Neko Case

By Poppy Tohill

Artist:  Neko Case

Date / Venue:  Friday March 14th, The Powerstation, Auckland

Going to a concert of an artist you don't know can always be a bit of a hit or miss affair, but Neko Case's show on Friday night at Auckland's Powerstation was incredibly far from a miss.

Despite the anticipation of the arrival of cyclone Lusi, fans didn't seem very bothered by the severe weather warnings, as a large crowd of varying ages piled into the Powerstation in anticipation for a great night of live music.

The music soon got underway with Wellingtonian Sophie Burbery's electro-pop persona, Little Bark taking to the stage as the support act. Their synth and electric drum driven sound grew from strength to strength with each song as they performed a selection of songs from their debut album, ‘Hope Is Rubbery.'

With the conclusion of Little Barks set, the crowd were undoubtedly ready for Neko to take the spotlight, as everyone flocked to the front to get the best view and spot on the dance floor. Bringing her all-star band and big voice with her, Case put on an impeccable show performing a short and sweet set of 21 songs in just over an hour, (including a performance of Happy Birthday which was sung for her sound technician which incorporated props such as real cake, candles and fire, or in the words of Case- "some fancy pyrotechnics")

Along with Case's effortless, soaring voice, backing vocalist Kelly Hogan proved a treat and highlight for many at the show. Acting as half backing vocalist, half comedian with her incredibly engaging personality, she developed a fantastic rapport with the audience adding a touch of humour to the show with her comedic banter between songs, which received many a laughs and cheers from the crowd.

The whole band were slick, tight and outstanding with guitar from Eric Bachmann, bass from Tom V. Ray, drums from Dan Hunt and multi-instrumentalist Jon Rauhouse, who brought a touch of pedal steel, banjo, guitar and even a little bit of trombone to the stage.

Most of the set list was drawn from Case's two most recent albums, ‘The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You,' and ‘Middle Cyclone,' but there were a few treats for long time fans as she stepped back to play ‘The Tiger's Have Spoken,' (2004) and ‘Set Our Running' (2000) which was the first song of her encore.

Highlights included ‘Nothing To Remember'- her contribution to the 2012 Hunger Games soundtrack, 'City Swans' and the emotionally taut, ‘Nearly Midnight, Honolulu' which was performed acapella style and left the entire audience speechless and in awe of her powerful voice.

Although Case admitted she was "psychedelically tired," she certainly didn't perform like it, putting on a spectacular show with the energy level rising as the dialogue between Case, Hogan and the audience developed throughout the night.

Undoubtedly a new, very big fan of Neko Case, and decidedly the best concert I have attended this year. Neko slipped into conversation that she may be back in New Zealand as soon as early next year, so if that's the case and you missed out on seeing her this time round, don't be that fool who misses out twice. She's certainly a must see and I for one am already excitedly awaiting her return!