About a year and a half after the last time she was here, Neko Case kicking off a spring tour in Vancouver, returning to the Vogue Theatre.
Due to a bit of a slow moving line outside the Vogue, I got in the theatre a few songs into the opener, Alialujah Choir. I immediately -- and correctly -- guessed that the sharp-dressed, six piece band was from Portland; their rich, folk-rock sounds, bolstered by a whole compliment of instruments ranging from keys to stand up bass to slide guitar. They even utilized a theremin for a small section on of the the standout songs, "Hell of a Trick". Frontman (more or less) Adam Shearer chatted between songs, quick with stories about a song, their hometown, or crossing the border (and mentioned they even had their own coffee at the merch table).
After a couple songs they ended their set off microphone, each member standing in a row at the very front of the stage for a completely unamplified song, even though they were battling with the chatter filtering in from the lobby. They put on a really enjoyable set, and I wouldn't be surprised if they won over more than a few new fans that night.
After a little bit of My Morning Jacket between sets (the person responsible for the between-set-music just put on their album Evil Urges and I was more than okay with that) Neko Case came out and immediately sent chills throughout the sold-out theatre with her unparalleled voice. She opened with the almost entirely a capella "Nearly Midnight, Honolulu", joined on backup vocals by Kelly Hogan, the first show back with Case since touring with The Decemberists, apparently.
From there, the whole band burst forth on the intense "Bracing for Sunday" as the show went on to spotlight Case's entire career, going all the way back to her debut album Blacklisted, and showcasing her range from the slowed down alt-country jams of songs like "The Pharaohs" to the more rocking and fiery "Man", and everywhere in between. Other highlights included the aptly-named, frantically swirling "This Tornado Loves You", the heartbreaking "Margaret vs. Pauline", and one of my favourite Neko tunes, "Hold On, Hold On".
Aside from the vast amount of musical talent on stage, the other great part of seeing Neko Case live is her banter; amusing one-offs between songs, like why one tambourine is better than the other, but especially the back and forth between her and Hogan, who definitely share the same (sometimes sick) sense of humour.
After over an hour of music, Neko & the band wrapped up the night with a few older songs in the encore, "Outro With Bees" and "I Wish I Was the Moon", before sending everyone off perfectly with "Ragtime", the final song off the latest album The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You.
Be it on her own, or with The New Pornographers, it is always a pleasure seeing Neko Case play live, and this show was no different.
Nearly Midnight, Honolulu; Bracing for Sunday; Where Did I Leave That Fire; This Tornado Loves You; That Teenage Feeling; If You Knew; Local Girl; Nothing To Remember; Margaret vs. Pauline; City Swans; The Pharaohs; The Tigers Have Spoken; Hex; Deep Red Bells; Red Tide; Wild Creatures; Calling Cards; Hold On, Hold On; Night Still Comes; Man.
(encore) Outro With Bees; I Wish I Was the Moon; Ragtime.