By Vajonica Falaise
April 15, 2015
VANCOUVER — In the world of live music, the most enthusiastic audiences typically consist of the very young or the unusually old. You will never see a more gung-ho crowd than a bunch of teenagers at an all-ages punk show, and the same goes for a bunch of middle-agers enjoying a rare night off while the babysitter takes over at home.
The crowd that turned up to see Neko Case return to her former hometown of Vancouver was notably older than your average indie concert audience, with most of the attendees looking around the same age as the 44-year-old singer. Case had these fans in the palm of her hand from the get-go, as she opened the show with a pin-drop version of her a cappella lament “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu.”
The stage was decorated with a massive banner bearing hand-drawn art and the title of the 2013 album The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You. Case donned what appeared to be the pants from a skeleton costume, while her accompanying band consisted of four instrumentalists and backup vocalist Kelly Hogan. The players cranked the distortion on “Man” and “Red Tide,” slowed things down for the plaintive “Calling Cards,” and conjured up nocturnal vibes on moody standouts like “That Teenage Feeling” and “Hold On, Hold On.”
When Case wasn’t dipping into her alt-country back catalogue, she and Hogan charmed the crowd with light-hearted banter. Case briefly discussed her time living in Vancouver when reminiscing about a ravioli store on Commercial Drive and Hogan earned laughs with extended anecdotes about her skin tags.
Case’s charming onstage presence had the unfortunate effect of making crowd members feel that the show was a conversation between them and the singer, and the gaps between songs were filled with intrusive yells. During the encore, Case had to shut down one man’s obnoxious demands.
But as awkward as the fans’ hollering often was, it was indicative of their devotion to the woman onstage. It sure beats a bunch of 20-year-olds talking to their friends with their arms crossed.BC, British Columbia, Neko Case, Vogue Theatre