Faingold at Large Presents: Rocktober Part 4: Neko Case in St. Louis
"Migraine or not, we will now shred."
Like the steadfast musical soldier she so clearly is, singer Neko Case led her band through a searing, satisfying set at last night at The Pageant in St. Louis. Early in the show, Case matter-of-factly informed the audience that she was experiencing a migraine behind her right eye, but the reported discomfort had no visible effect on her mood or her legendary singing voice. Throughout the night she bantered and joked with her backing singer and close friend Kelly Hogan (a great, if under-appreciated, solo artist in her own right) and natural wonder of a voice soared around an effortless emotional range from defiance to stoicism to whimsy.
Case started her solo recording career 16 years ago as a vampy, alt-country chanteuse but her music became increasingly difficult to categorize as she matured. Her long-term side gig as part of indie power-pop supergroup The New Pornographers long hinted at non-twangy musical proclivities but her solo records have been increasingly sui generis. The last three Neko Case studio albums each seemed impossible to top, but 2009's Middle Cyclone left Fox Confessor Brings The Flood (2006) in the dust and her most recent release, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You is yet another high-water mark, studded with songs of shocking emotional directness delivered with such a lightness of touch that casual listeners might not even notice they had just been eviscerated.
Her show last nigh touched on many of her career-defining songs, from the heartbreaking car-crash balladry of "Star Witness" to the romantic defiance of "That Teenage Feeling," from the poppy and surreal "This Tornado Loves You" to the nearly gospel style lamentation of "Local Girl" (refrain:"Shame on you, all of you lie") to the aforementioned shredding of the tough as nails "Man."
Last night Neko Case may not have been feeling 100% but she toughed it out and gave an appreciative crowd a remarkable performance.
Next up for Rocktober: Faingold at Large heads up to Bloomington's Castle Theatre tonight to check out Boise, Idaho's finest: Built To Spill.
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