"notes are hung so effortless"

Last night marked my second time seeing Neko Case in a live setting. The first occurred when the New Pornographers stopped by the Crofoot to plow through "My Rights Versus Yours," "Failsafe" and ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down" and to be upstaged by openers Okkervil River. Such songs were nowhere to be heard at Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, though, and Jason Lytle, formerly of Grandaddy, was a solid, but subdued opening act, offering songs from Yours Truly, The Commuter, including the title track and "Brand New Sun." The audience gathered on the grass with blankets and chairs, food and drink, were polite in applauding Lytle's efforts, but it was clear upon Case's entrance that most everyone was in attendance for her.

I do not think she disappointed either as Case's singing was loud, bright and clear, as if attempting to cast her voice over the tree-covered hills and mountains of some distant land. Kelly Hogan provided vocal accompaniment that was more than sufficient and was a ham during onstage banter between songs, going so far as to impersonate the Osmonds at one point. The rest of the band was knowledgeable and tight on their instruments; in particular, though, I liked Paul Rigby's guitar work, which often accentuated Case's vocal.

The evening's setlist included songs from her last three studio albums, including "Things That Scare Me," "Deep Red Bells" and "I Wish I Was The Moon" from Blacklisted, "Margaret vs. Pauline," "Star Witness," "Hold On, Hold On" (which I didn't know was co-written by the Sadies) and "Maybe Sparrow" from Fox Confessor Brings The Flood and "This Tornado Loves You," "People Got A Lotta Nerve, "Prison Girls" and Harry Nilsson's "Don't Forget Me" from her latest effort, Middle Cyclone, as well as the title track from The Tigers Have Spoken.