Neko Case: The Pageant, St. Louis 9/24/08

“I’m so tired, I wish I was the moon tonight,” Neko Case sang midway through her breathtaking set at The Pageant in St. Louis.  We’ve come to expect the best from Case over the years, and that’s what she continues to deliver in her live performances and albums.  2006’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood showed off Case’s talents as not only a singer and songwriter, but also a capable producer of creating her own vision and bringing it to life. 

This show was no different than the last few times I have seen her – Jon Rahouse and Kelly Hogan were still by her side – but somehow, performances of “Deep Red Bells” and “Star Witness” just don’t get old; instead, you come to the show expecting and wanting to hear them.  She’s just got so many good ones now.

And Case can belt them out like no other.  Take the version of “Favorite,” for example, that was perfectly played.  Her voice was amazingly strong throughout the song, effortlessly holding notes with her tight band, the crowd indeed her favorites.  “Thank you, St. Louis,” she said and smiled.

Six of the twenty songs in Case’s set were tunes that are to be found on a new album titled Middle Cyclone, which should be released in the spring of 2009.  The title track sounded spooky and solemn, nothing too different from anything on Confessor or 2002’s Blacklisted, but appeared to rise way above the cutting room floor. I couldn’t really come to grips with the other new ones she offered – probably because I wasn’t expecting them – but I look forward to getting to know them better once they’re officially released.

Absent from the show was anything off of Furnace Room Lullaby, possibly her best album (I would die to hear “South Tacoma Way” live), but we were treated to two interesting covers: Harry Nilsson’s “Alimony” and Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain.”  The Dylan tune was especially sweet, and I’m sure she could pull off anything from Blood on the Tracks with grace, especially maybe “Tangled Up in Blue” or “Simple Twist of Fate.”

But really, what makes Neko Case special is that she doesn’t ever feature a “look at me” moment during one of her shows.  She’s a normal person with an extraordinary gift; let’s hope she keeps using it to the best of her abilities for a long, long time. 

photo by Jill Norath

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