Thursday, January 5th, 2006

Star Witness

It was a packed house at the Rivoli on this drizzly January night, filled with folks anxious to see and hear Neko Case preview her new album Fox Confessor Brings The Flood. The ads had promised an intimate showcase of the new material, and the 150-capacity club certainly guaranteed things were intimate. But any notions that it’d be an acoustic, coffee house-y sort of affair were out the window when the doors opened and we were greeted with a full band setup on stage. Accompanying her on this night were many of the musicians who helped her record the new album, including Rachel Flotard of Visqueen. I was a little surprised, since to my knowledge she’s never brought her band up this way. But more on her later.

I’d seen Neko twice before, and I gotta say, the third time was definitely the charm. Both previous shows were great, but the first show, from which The Tigers Have Spoken was taken, Neko was understandably nervous and seemed really intent on the performance and the second was also great, but the coziness of the Rivoli trumps the biggish Phoenix any day of the week. On this night, she and her band, who for the first time weren’t The Sadies. sounded sublime. She claimed to be suffering from a cold but you wouldn’t know it from her vocals, which were as huge and gorgeous as ever. The set started with some old “Favourite”s (sorry), and gradually worked in more of the new material, which sounded terrific, even over the incessent squeaking of the club’s ventilation system. It was definitely good to hear her older material, since she’d passed over most of it when recording and touring The Tigers Have Spoken, and the sound in the club was superb as always (save for the aforementioned fan).

Neko seemed to be having a great time with the smaller audience, cracking jokes and engaging in an extended Bryan Adams-centric comedy routine with Flotard. As much fun as it was seeing Case and Kelly Hogan play Bob and Bing at last year’s show, I have to say that Flotard is a helluva lot funnier. The best, however, was Neko’s story in the encore of visiting a game farm and seeing the gameskeeper getting scalped by a giraffe showing off for his mate. Seriously, it was the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long, long time. And it was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long, long time. It was interesting what a wide demographic the audience covered, from indie kids through old-school country fans. And as good as the new album, out March 7 (check out the album art here), sounds like it’s going to be, I imagine that audience is only going to get larger. But even so, I hope she’ll still be able to pull off small club shows like this one amidst the bigger ones because the intimate vibe is just so perfect. Just four days in and already one of the best shows of the year, and I’ll stand by that come December.

My camera must know that I’ve been researching upgrades, it’s being sulky. My photos do not make me especially happy, despite the fact that the available light seemed pretty good. But what I got is what I got. And that Rebel XT is looking mighty attractive…

Local Over The Top Fest promoter Eric Warner gives NOW a peek at some of the shows he’s trying to bring to Hogtown in the next little while and tosses around names like Devandra Banhart and Silver Jews just wishful thinking – nothing confirmed. But first up is the 2006 OTT launch party at The Great Hall next Wednesday, featuring Final Fantasy, Akron/Family (whom NOW and The Toronto Star also profile) and Great Lake Swimmers.

Stylus reconsiders Spiritualized’s Pure Phase.

Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers contributes the official bio for the new Centro-Matic album, Fort Recovery, out March 7.

The Globe & Mail looks at how digital music has been the death knell for home stereo equipment. It probably goes without saying that I like all my stereo components and even though I tried the DVD-as-CD-player thing for a while, my dedicated CD player sounds much much better. So while I am quite happy to be the exception, I fear the article is more right than not – people just don’t care how stuff sounds anymore. They just want as much of it in as small and disposable a package as possible. Which is unfortunate.

np – Shearwater / Winged Life

By : Frank Yang at 8:51 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this post9 Responses.
  1. Sandra says:

    Argh, that G&M article started off interesting and relevant, then completely nosedived towards the end. People interested in music making DO listen attentively at concerts! Everyone still agrees that talking in a theatre throughout a movie is bad, although I’m sure similar ahistorical arguments could be made. And the final comments are needlessly dismissive and trite.

    Anyway, y’all should attend future gigs wearing a Brakes t-shirt with lyrics from their diatribe against gig-talkers "Hi How Are You" handily printed on front and back.


  2. Kevin says:

    Missed Neko due to bad cold – glad to hear she was up to her usual standards – she’s THE BEST in my book as I have seen her 4 times myself. Thanks for posting the pics-cheers!


  3. sam says:

    the new portability *is* extra nice. but nothing beats sitting down in front of great stereo equipment and listening for pleasure.

  4. eric warner says:

    hey frank,
    if possible, can you edit this. No acts are announced for the festival yet and the acts mentioned were not confirmed, just ideas. Devandra Banhart had been slated to play a pre-party, but as of two days ago, his entire east coast tour for said time was cancelled.

    thanks again and sorry for this, those artists were not supposed to be published. Besides that, I am happy with the article

    eric warner/over the top fest

  5. suckingalemon says:

    sad news about devendra.

    your photos came out nicely – espeically the second one.
    the gentleman playing guitar looks alot like one of carolyn marks bass players.


  6. bozairzere says:

    aaahhh pure phase~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Happy New Year Frank!

  7. John says:

    Visqueen is great!! Go Rachel Flotard!!

  8. jrmy says:

    What? No pictures of Rachel in the gig photos?!? That’s the saddest thing ever… well, maybe not ever… but in the last five minutes…

  9. Beth Hamill says:

    Howdy Frank! – you must have been very near me at the show (from the perspective of your photos!) I was right in front of Rachel. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve linked your review from my blog – you’re a far better writer/reviewer than me!

    My photo gallery from the show is at:

    – Beth Hamill