On one of the first truly chilly North Carolina nights in 2013, Neko Case treated a nearly sold out DPAC to a set that only a nitpicky few would find lacking.
Opener Karen Elson set the stage with a set of dark blues. With just her voice, her guitar and her partner on guitar the sound was sparse and foreboding. Elson’s set derived mostly from her debut album The Ghost Who Walks, but she left out most of the medieval sounding sounds and stuck with blues.
With a small personal repertoire to pull from, Elson performed a few covers including a wonderful version of Jackson C. Frank’s “Marcy’s Song.” She closed with “There Is A Time” by The Dillards which seemed fitting in the Tar Heel state as the song was made famous during a performance on The Andy Griffith Show.
After a 30 minute intermission, Case took the stage with a 5-person band behind her including North Carolina’s own Eric Bachman (Archers of Loaf, Crooked Fingers) on guitar. Case admitted to being under the weather and that accompanying singer Kelly Hogan would come into the foreground more often than normal. Hogan has some range as well to the point that calling her a backup singer is unfair.
Without the advanced warning, Case’s sickness might have gone unnoticed. She was a bit raspy in a few very quiet sections, but otherwise the power of her voice still resonated in the concert hall.
DPAC is a conflicting venue to see Case perform. On one hand, it’s an ideal setting to showcase her voice and she is popular enough to need a large venue. On the other hand, there’s more energy in Case’s music than there ever has been and it gets lost in a seated venue.
The set list was incredibly balanced. The band seamlessly moved from new material to old favorites. The only album they didn’t play a song from was 1997's Virginian. What struck me the most was how much I was looking forward to the new material. I’ve been dreaming of seeing songs like “Hold On, Hold On” and “Margaret vs. Pauline” for years, but it was when Case played “Man”, “Night Still Comes” and “Ragtime” that I became most excited.
It was an unexpected feeling, but it made Friday night the special kind of concert: one that listeners can walk away from with increased appreciate for an artist’s growth.
Karen Elson set list
The Birds They Circle
? (New song)
A Thief At My Door
The Truth Is In The Dirt
Marcy’s Song (Jackson C. Frank cover)
Late Last Night (Paul Anka cover)?
The Ghost Who Walks
There Is A Time (The Dillards cover)
Neko Case set list
Where Did I Leave That Fire
This Tornado Loves You
Bracing for Sunday
The Tigers Have Spoken
Set Out Running
The Next Time You Say “Forever”
That Teenage Feeling
Something To Remember
Margaret vs. Pauline
I Wish I Was The Moon
People Got A Lot Of Nerve
Hold On, Hold On
Night Still Comes