Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bumbershoot 2008: Neko Case oh so heavenly at Memorial Stadium

Neko Case kicked things off in a magnificent way this afternoon at Bumbershoot, performing to a large crowd at Memorial Stadium that saw the sun finally peak through the clouds a few songs into her set.

The alt country maverick was all smiles and all business playing old and new favorites, which included several great renditions from 2006's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.

"That Teenage Feeling", "Maybe Sparrow" and "Margaret vs. Pauline" were performed effortless and lovely with Case's vocals wrapping sweetly around each of them. A highlight was a gorgeous version of "Dirty Knife", which she introduced as a scary tale told to her by her grandmother. Fine banjo plucking and a dramatic bass drum complimented the number.

"It feels so churchy and formal", joked Case referring to a 1pm start on the main stage. "I didn't have time to prepare and get wasted".

A new song from a forthcoming disc tentatively titled "Middle Cyclone" had all ingredients of a Neko Case standard, as did a cover of Harry Nilsson's "Don't Forget About Me" that is also slated to appear on the upcoming record, set for a March release.

"It's so far away", kidded Case about the new album. "Seems dumb to even bring it up, but hey".

Case looked beautiful as ever, dressed in tight black jeans and matching tank top - her red, long and wavy hair resting on both her shoulders. She never appeared sexier than when she strapped on an electric guitar and rocked out to "Hold On, Hold On".

An almost bluegrassy rendition of "John Saw That Number" was played towards the end of her hour-plus set, followed by a swell redo of Bob Dylan's "Buckets of Rain". Another high point was a stunning performance of "Favorite" from The Tigers Have Spoken, which received a loud roar from the audience immediately afterwards. It really demonstrated the depth of vocal talent this Northwest native has.

Before she did "Look for Me (I'll Be Around)", Case told the crowd "This song is about stalking people, which Washingtonians are famous for". The song is from her Blacklisted release and had a fascinating, mysterious and creepy effect, even on a bright and sunny day.

When bidding farewell, Case told everyone "Thanks for coming to our show, where we played our bummer songs for you in the middle of the afternoon."

Neko Case, who spent much of her childhood in nearby Tacoma, attended Bumbershoot as a teenager. Today, she performed in front of thousands at Memorial Stadium as an opening act for multi-Grammy winner Lucinda Williams.

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