Neko made it out on stage at about 11:15 with her backing band, the Sadies, who were quite possibly four of the dorkiest-looking men I’ve ever seen. A pleasant addition to her entourage on this date was Kelly Hogan, a local favorite in the Chicago alt-country scene and a Hideout-regular who contributed backing vocals throughout the show. Neko’s set drew heavily from her recently released live album The Tigers Have Spoken, a collection of new songs, old favorites, and fantastic covers, much of which had been recorded at Schubas in Chicago. Songs like “If You Knew” and the Loretta Lynn cover “Rated X” were definite crowd pleasers, and the Sadies’ excellent musicianship managed to hold up under the weight of Neko’s amazing, almost overpowering voice.
The real treat of the night, however, was getting to know a little more about the woman behind the huge voice and the wild red hair. From the moment she appeared, Neko quickly proved herself to be one of the most energetic, unpretentious, fun-loving entertainers I have seen in quite some time. Apparently being the object of many fan’s affections has not yet gotten to her head, though at this point that’s almost hard to believe. Between songs she seemed to say whatever it was that came to her mind, no matter how ridiculous it sounded (“this next song is a sad song about birds. WOOOO PARTY!!!!”). Even when she needed to take a few moments to deal with a poorly tuned guitar, Neko kept the crowd entertained with her utterly random comments and non-sequiturs. It was as if she was talking to herself, totally oblivious to the fact that hundreds of fans were hanging on her every word, trying to figure out what the hell she was talking about. It was really great to see someone beloved by so many proudly act like a total dork on stage; it gave her an air of accessibility that many artists lack.
It’s not easy to make a show filled with twang-y, often depressing songs about love (or birds) so fun, but Neko Case certainly had no problem doing just that at the Metro Friday night. It became pretty clear by the end why everyone loves her so much. Sure, she’s a fabulous singer with an incredibly unique voice. But even more than that, she seems like the type of person I’d want to go party with (WOOOO PARTY!!!!). I bet she’s a total blast.
-Nicole Chavas, ThePerfectFaceForRadio.com