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Neko Case at the Majestic

Neko Case

Ted took me to see Neko Case on our first date. I had never heard her before, and I’ve got to say that the price of his stock rose considerably as soon as the show started. It’s not impossible that we might never have gotten married if not for Neko Case.

That girl sings like an angel. Her voice is pure but distinctive and heartbreakingly expressive and I am so grateful that she chooses to uses it to sing old-time murder ballads, sultry country classics, and original songs written with pedal steel guitar in mind. Also, she’s just lovely to look at—a little bit tough and a little bit frail, like all the finest honky-tonk beauties.

With our first anniversary approaching, Ted and I decided to treat ourselves to a trip to Detroit for the Neko Case show at the Majestic last night. It was another great set. Honestly, Ms. Case’s voice is so magnificent that seeing her perform live is surreal. It’s just so difficult to believe that such a perfect sound could arise—unaided and unaltered—from a human throat. Neko and the band did a couple of my favorite songs, both from Furnace Room Lullaby—the title track and “Guided by Wire.” They also did Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain,” which was nice since Ted was in the men’s room when Ms. Case sang it at the Blind Pig.

I should also take a moment to say a few words about opening act Johnny Dowd. He plays guitar—feverishly—and the rest of his band consists of an organ and drums. This alone would make him distinctive, but, oh, there is so much more. Dowd seems like someone driven to play by the volume and energy of influences he has absorbed. He covered Donna Summer, quoted Black Sabbath, and during his performance I heard echoes of The Spencer Davis Group, Tom Waits, Jay Hawkins, the Talking Heads, Anthrax, various Delta Blues artists, and ? and the Mysterians—not to mention the kooky je ne sais quois that must belong to Mr. Dowd his own self. I think Ted put it best when he said, “Clearly, Johnny Dowd follows his own muse.”

[PHOTO BY RYAN DOMBAL, 2004, SWIPED WITH GRATITUDE FROM THE MACK.]

June 16, 2005 | Permalink

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