Thursday, April 16, 2015

Neko Case in Vancouver, Canada

I first learned of Neko Case when I heard a young girl cover one of her songs.  That was  over a decade ago. I don’t remember what song it was.   I learned that Neko Case had written the song simply because I was so impressed by the originality of the lyrics that I looked up who the song writer was.  That lead me to get my first Neko Case album. It had a kind of blue grass twinge to it with a raw country city flavour that spoke of all worlds.  I really liked the music.  I gave a cd to an American friend who has everything but loved Neko Case because he’d never heard of her and couldn’t believe a Canadian was introducing him to one of “America’s greats’.
So as luck would have it she was coming to Vancouver to appear at the Vogue Theatre.  Sweet.
I only learned that she was in the New Pornographers last week. The New Pornographers is a Canadian group I’ve really liked, right up there with Bare Naked Ladies and Tragically Hip.  I’m personally in the Neil Young, Steppenwolf and Guess Who era so think I’m hip to be cool to these bands that are 20 or 30 years younger than anything really worth listening too. I always figure that having grown up on the Beatles. Country Joe and the Fish, Joni Mitchell, Elton John and Elvis, my tastes are so refined that anything I like post 1980 has got to be really good. It’s a collective feeling of my generation but most of us are too humble to state it especially given  Justin Beiber is Canadian and that’s sort of embarrassing.
I also learned from Wikipedia, that online jewel, that Neko Case hails from Virginia but actually went to the Emily Carr School of Fine Art here in Vancouver.  Her performance was sold out a week or so in advance.  I’d bought Laura and me tickets the minute the tour was announced.
“I’ve not been in Vogue in thirty years, “ I told Laura.
“I saw Sheena Easton here, “ she replied,  “That’s a long time ago too."
I didn’t recognize any of the posters of the dozens of bands that played at the Vogue in recent decades. I’m that hip.  All the while Neko Case was drumming for punk bands I’ve been listening to classical music and Christian rock.
“I think I’m the oldest person here, “I said to Laura.
“No you’re not. I’ve seen a lot of white hair.”
“But mostly everyone is 20 to 40."
“You’ve got that right.  They’re mostly my children’s age."
I couldn’t believe they didn’t have any coffee. There was a bar but all they had was red bull. So there I was hyped on two red bull, a piece of pizza and a couple of chocolate bars for my after a long day clinic dinner.
Alialujah Choir was the incredible opening band. I have that pleasant feeling I had when  I hired the Guess Who for my high school dance and paid them $500.  All of us knew that night they were bound for glory.  I imagine myself a few decades from now saying to some impossibly young person in their 50’s or 60’s, “You know, I heard Alialujah Band when I was your age."
Neko Case was even more incredible.  She had skeleton black pants like people wear on Halloween.  She had a black short sleeve top and bushy wild hair like Laura’s sister.  Her band was impossibly professional with that skill and coordination you take for granted in the likes of Fleetwood Mac or Bob Dylan’s Band.  Hearing that speed of changes and watching the musicians function as one complete but separate unit is truly a joyful privilege.  
Neko Case’s voice is haunting.  A single black skirted woman sang perfect harmony with her.  The two were reminiscent of Simon and Garfunckel. I’ve heard those men when I was young and this female version  had that mesmerizing quality.
There was country there tonight but mostly a lot of real original rock. I find Neko Case hard to place like the very best always are.  She’s an original.  And she was having fun too. I liked that .
I bought a  couple of cd’s looking forward to listening carefully to her lyrics.  She’s got something to say like Albert Costello in that way.  I’m going to enjoy playing these new albumns over and over again in the car.  Enjoying the words and ideas.
The title of her tour is “The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, the More I Love You”  That’s Neko Case.  Poet/song writer, entertainer extraordinaire.
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