December 9, 2004
Neko Case at the El Rey, Los Angeles - Dec. 4, 2004
Not the (Neko) Case
Neko Case is nervous. She can’t seem to get her guitar tuned just right, and the way she’s fiddling with it, I know she’s nervous. See, she’s playing a Gibson SG that only has three strings, the top and bottom strings have been removed. The man next to me, Steve, tells me this is an old Velvet Underground trick, to take off the top and bottom strings and tune the three remaining strings the same. I don’t know about that trick, or any of the others that will be perpetrated on me this night, but I was watching the night that Ashlee Simpson ran off stage on Saturday Night Live, and let me tell you – she was lip syncing. And I don’t think that Neko Case, even if she can’t get her three-stringed guitar tuned, will have that problem.
Even though Case admittedly sings and writes “little songs” about bees, and sparrows, and tigers and then jokes – “see, they’re all sad little songs about animals on this tour!” – there is nothing little about her voice. This is a voice with power and range – the voice of a chanteuse, but also a bee, a sparrow, or a tiger, as she sees fit. Travis/Dallas Good makes his Gretsch sound like a slide guitar; The Sadies seem perfectly matched for Neko’s voice and the songs she has written with them are outstanding. The way they elevate country music goes something like this: Neko Case has a voice that’s transcendent, phenomenal, and ethereal – take that as a given and a starting place. Then put her on a little four-stringed acoustic guitar, while Travis Good plays fiddle, Sean Dean bumps out the stand up bass, Mike Belitsky keeps time, and Dallas Good adds this amazing layer of electric sound on top.
And just in case you need to die happy that night going home from the El Rey on slick, rain-soaked Los Angeles freeways – ask Dexter Romwebber to come up on stage and sing with you during the encore. That’s right – he got up there and sang “Lucky Eye” with The Sadies and Neko Case! I should start wearing a heart monitor to shows, really. I have to wonder – what if God gave you a voice like Neko Case, and you decided not to sing? Luckily for us, that’s not the Case.
Posted by DJWanda at December 9, 2004 11:31 PM