I was initially excited to find out that Neko Case was going to be at Danforth Music Hall in Toronto this past Sunday April 2nd, but was turned off by the $32.50 CDN price tag. I justified my decision to not go, saying to myself I saw her twice live last year(three times if you count the show she did with The New Pornographers) and am going to see her at the end of May when I head to the Sasquatch Festival with my brother. Still, it is without a doubt that I'd have felt a little twinge of disappointment for skipping her show this weekend[btw, reviews of that show over at chartattack and The Toronto Star]. Whatever disappointment I'd have felt melted away yesterday evening cause I got to see Neko and her band live in concert at the cozy Berkeley Church in Toronto. I was fortunate enough to get a spot on the guestlist for this show which was being taped live in front of an audience for a US cable television program called "Beautiful Noise". It was a doozy of a show and it had its share of brilliant moments even if a couple of things threatened to put a damper on the show.
The show started out quite conventionally with an introduction over the sound system of Neko Case and her band as they walked down the center aisle, took the stage then dived right into a series of well-chosen favourites, including "Favourite" and "If You Knew"(featuring fantastic backing vocals from Kelly Hogan). Reality did eventually set in that this show was being taped for a television program which meant interruptions throughout the evening such as touching up Neko's and other band members'(including Kelly's) makeup, changing recording tapes mid-show and the audience co-ordinator reiterating rules every now and then. Such interruptions were made all the more bearable as Neko and sometimes Kelly, used such down times to humourously banter with the audience. There weren't really any stories of substance[the funniest banter centering on the band's un-rock-n'-roll like behaviour with Neko making mention of no drug use, even though they'd been offered 'real' drugs twice since they'd been in Toronto] but it was humorous nonetheless to hear her ramble on. Neko seemed giddy during the show but also genuinely modest about the experience. She didn't express an ounce of diva-ness given the fact that she was being recorded for a television show, and such modesty was really refreshing. She did confess to having an irritating stomach problem during the night, but the trooper that she was, she got through the show with barely a whimper.
I thought the acoustics of Berkeley Church were spectacular. Dark, southern gothic country ballads like "Favourite", "Star Witness" and especially "Dirty Knife" were spine-tingling within the pristine acoustics of the church. The interior of Berkely Church was transformed by the series of interesting lighting effects and back wall projections during the show which managed to set the mood and atmosphere quite nicely. With pen and paper in hand, I jotted down the setlist which was as follows:
Favourite // If You Knew // Fox Confessor Brings The Flood // That Teenage Feeling // Set Out Running // Star Witness // Dirty Knife // At Last // I Wish I Was The Moon // A Widow's Toast // Maybe Sparrow // Bucket of Rain [Bob Dylan] // Deep Red Bells // Hex // Furnace Room Lullaby // Hold On, Hold On // John Saw The Number
As much as I liked to have heard some rave-ups, the quieter, moodier set list that we got to hear complimented the surroundings very nicely. Given that this was a free show and that it was being filmed for a television program, I felt lucky to hear the 17 songs that we got. It was unfortunate that Neko's burning stomach got the best of her as we all saw her talking to the stage director and rubbing her tummy, then wave to the crowd and walk off the stage amidst our applause as her bandmates followed her. It seemed an all very sudden conclusion to the night, but it was quite obvious why she had to stop the show at that point. I hope she's feeling better now, but I'd like to thank Neko for giving us her all, and then some.
ps. Once Neko and company left the stage, the camera men prompted the audience to stand up and raise the enthusiasm level of our applause and cheers. I thought possibly that Neko might come back for an encore but she didn't. Now I realize that our 'standing ovation' was probably being filmed to be inserted into the final edit; given Neko's somewhat sudden exit, I don't think our bewildered expressions was quite what the director was looking for. ;-)
In other concert news, more new concert info continues to roll in:
The first Toronto area festival-style outdoor show to make an announcement for this summer is a show at Olympic Island scheduled for June 24th which will feature a lineup including Broken Social Scene, Bloc Party, Feist, J Mascis, and others TBA. [via Emerge]
Guillemots will be back in Toronto(after only playing at Horseshoe Tavern on March 15th; my review) for a show at The Mod Club on May 4th. Unfortunately, I'll be seeing The Concretes at Horseshoe Tavern that night.
Pink Mountaintops will be at Horseshoe Tavern on June 11th. [via Pollstar]