Monday, April 10, 2006

He sang nursery rhymes to paralyze the wolves that eddy out the corner of his eyes...

Neko Case has a voice that can shame a room into silence. Well... almost; they banned smoking, not assholes, at the 9:30 last night. (What are torch songs without smoke? Turns out Neko was sick and doesn't usually request no smoking, if the tattooed guy on U Street is to be believed.) But goddamn if her voice didn't make people take notice. It was almost a curse, because after an hour, the amazing becomes mundane and the show became pro forma. "Here's another slow one with soaring vocals." But I blame me alone and a lifetime of video games for my attention span.

While she played almost all of the new album, she played so much that it wasn't as if she was showcasing it. It's always interesting to see how musicians tackle live shows supporting tight albums. Fox Confessor isn't the sprawling narrative that, say, Separation Sunday is, but it's bound by, if anything, atmosphere. I mean, the album is thick and creepy. Turns out it's not as complicated as I make it out to be, after seeing Neko and the Hold Steady in the last few months. She started with the close-to-accapella "Widows Toast" and bound through The Tigers Have Spoken (the title track, "Hex", "If You Knew"), Furnace Room Lullabies ("Set Out Running"), and even the Canadian Amp EP: the night was supposed to end with "John Saw That Number," but she honored a request for "Knock Loud" (I had to look that up). And of course, a lot of new stuff, and probably some stuff I'm unfamiliar with and forgetting. Damn good show.

Martha Wainwright? Didn't do it for me.

Actually, who cares what I think? You can listen to the whole show here.


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