MUSIC Neko Case
James Cabaret, March 12-13
Neko Case last played Wellington in 2010 - it was a great show, her effortless, soaring voice, the range of material, a warm-sounding, sympathetic blend of siren-song country with glimpses of indie pop and rock.
It was certainly more of the same four years on, but this time Case brings with her the best album she's released in over a decade.
Songs from The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You were among the highlights of this evening's set. And certainly the lyrical gut-punch of the stark, beautiful a cappella Nearly Midnight, Honolulu provided, if not the centrepiece of the set, then certainly an emotional cornerstone.
But everything worked. Once again Jon Rauhouse's pedal steel bends provided the yearning soundscapes to match the longing in Case's voice. And Kelly Hogan, one-part comedienne, one-part harmony vocalist was, once again, perfect with the assists in both areas, singing and banter. She works so well as Case's foil and her voice was another of the evening's highlights.
Case continues to take ersatz country tropes, the scorched ballads, the stark and searing, and invest contemporary life experiences into the song shapes, making something that is both country-like, and a set of songs that stands out on its own, certainly far removed from the marketing tag that is, or was, alt- country.
It was a short set, just over an hour, but it didn't feel brief - it felt just right.
- The Dominion Post