Neko Case’s spirited show on Monday night was the perfect ending to what’s been a stellar summer at Red Butte Garden. Under a nearly full moon and with a crisp breeze blowing—which she remarked was “a menopausal woman’s dream; thank you, Utah,” the first of the night’s many awesome one-liners—Case belted out a powerful set with the help of back-up singer Kelly Hogan that held the audience rapt and rang in another autumn season.
Case began her set with “Where Did I Leave That Fire”—complete with submarine sounds—singing the somber first verse alone at the front of the stage. After her backup band and Hogan joined in, Case and co. launched without pause into “This Tornado Loves You.” Hogan and Case made a harmonious as well as humorous duo, not only beautifully complementing each other’s voices but also cracking jokes and making cat sounds between songs. If I had the ability to write with super-human speed, I would’ve written down the entire random story they made up on the spot about a guitar that was “made from a sword,” Case said, and could only play an “open G, for Gandalf.”
Except for a gaggle of wood nymphs dancing awkwardly near the stage, the audience stayed mostly seated throughout the show, laughing at Case and Hogan’s banter and devoting undivided attention to the music. It was as if Case had gathered the entire crowd for story time, which happened to be going on at the same time as a concert. While attendees of her 2012 show in Utah said it was a bleak affair, Monday night’s performance was more than upbeat, with Case herself a ball of friendly energy as she happily sang-spoke to the crowd on her tiptoes.
With plenty of swagger and her long red hair wild and curly and blowing around her face, Case made fiery work of songs including “Deep Red Bells,” “Bracing for Sunday,” “People Got a Lot of Nerve” and “City Swan,” with the biting chorus “And I can’t look at you straight on/ you’re made from something different than I know.” Between tunes, Case repeatedly complimented the beautiful setting of Red Butte Garden, pronouncing the mountain behind the amphitheater to be “sexy and brawny, like a mountain should be.”
Under the starry sky, Case wrapped up her set with an encore—which finally got the polite audience on their feet—of “Andy,” “Local Girl,” “Red Tide” and the beautiful “I Wish I Was the Moon,” which seemed to take the concert full circle with another quiet, solo, first verse, complemented by stirring pedal steel and guitar. After thanking the audience and waving goodbye, Case and her band left the stage. It was an incredible night, and probably the best possible way to bid farewell to summer.
More awesome Case-isms that couldn’t be contained in this review:
“What do coyotes love? They love trombone.”
“When you’re a big-footed guy like me, you can’t have your turn-off pedal next to your turn-on pedal.”
“They are bringing pollen for our breathe-holes. They are angry, the fates.”
“It’s the season of the witch. Santa, Schmanta.”
Photos by AustenDiamond.com.