Review: Neko Case at Bush Hall

Apparently last time Ms.Case graced us with her presence she played at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Bush Hall is so much lovelier and more intimate than the clinical setting of the Darth Vader-esque Empire. Bush Hall is several times smaller than the Empire so it was no surprise that the show sold out. I was pretty excited about this show, and so very glad that it wasn’t cancelled, as Neko had cancelled the show the night before due to illness.

We got there on time but there was a queue outside. I wondered if I was at the wrong place because the audience was not ‘the usual’, if you catch my drift. Anyway, we went in and had to squeeze a bit to get a spot on the front row, as some eager fans were already sitting on the floor around the front. Eric Bachmann was the first act on. He has a really strong voice and did some lovely finger picking. He was very humble and endearing on stage and did an awesome song where he sung through a megaphone. It was great to see him as I’ve listened to his record To The Races before, back when I would listen to everything Saddle Creek would put out. Neko came out and sat by the side of the stage to watch him play. 

In the change over I counted the stringed instruments on stage. Between the banjos, basses, uke and guitars there were over a dozen on stage. Neko was joined by a steel guitarist, drummer, guitarist, bassist and additional vocalist, although they all did a bit of instrument switching. The band were really solid and the sound was spot on. Neko herself seemed very cheery and happy. The light was great, but there was a 3 song photo limit, which is weird because there is not usually any restriction at Bush Hall. If I had known this I would have taken more shots in the first songs, because I didn’t take many. I kind of wish we were told/allowed longer, I probably could have got something much better. The band kicked things off with Maybe Sparrow and power-housed through a 16 song set and returned for a 4 song encore.

They did a nice mix of old and new songs and there was the right amount of stage banter. The second vocalist was especially witty, adding funny little quips here and there. Neko introduced Middle Cyclone saying ‘This is the title track from my new album Middle Cyclone, this is the song… of the same name.” The second vocalist came to her mic and whispered ‘that’s what title track means’. I think there’s only one word to describe Neko’s voice, and that’s ‘stunning’. Absolutely spectacular. It’s strong on record but it’s just as strong live, and even more impressive. Neko also joked about how M Ward is playing at Bush Hall tomorrow (today) and how she wanted to join him and just be near him so they look cool. Middle Cyclone should be making alot of end of year lists. Neko said they’ll be back in August, inevitably in a bigger and less intimate venue. I feel super lucky to have caught this show, definately go see her if you can. This is probably my 4th favourite show of the year so far. That doesn’t sound that impressive, but considering how many shows I’ve been to, it’s pretty good.

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