BEING THERE: Neko Case @ The Electric Factory


Neko Case and her magic band took the stage Wednesday night to the pinging sound of submarine sonar and launched into a shimmering “Where Did I Leave That Fire.” Behind them was a green backdrop of an underwater scene featuring electric eels and an assortment of pointy weapons aimed at the Fiona Apple-esque title of her new album, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You.” Case wore a hoodie, jeans and a t-shirt and when she grabbed the mic she showed off recent forearm tattoos that read “Scorned As Timber” and “Beloved of The Sky,” which reference the title of a 1935 painting by Emily Carr. For the next 24 songs, Case’s powerful voice rang loud and clarion, filling the cavernous reaches of the Electric Factory. She was backed by a five piece band including longtime backup singer/sidekick/witty banter provider Kelly Hogan and a brilliant slide guitarist who is a dead ringer for Game of Thrones writer George R. R. Martin. The chiming “People Got a Lotta Nerve” was an early crowd-pleaser and dovetailed nicely with the honky tonk heartbreak of “Set Out Running,” which had the crowd hooting and hollering and featured some amazing slide work from Game of Thrones guy. During “Pharoahs” something malfunctioned and an eardrum annihilating wave of feedback stunned both the band and crowd. After checking to make sure everyone was ok and eyeing her mic warily for a few moments Case jokingly called the event “our Sixth Sense moment” and kicked off the tune again. Late in the show came the highlight of the night, a haunting three-guitar-blast through the gothic “Hold On, Hold On.” She closed her set with two strong new songs – the beautiful “Night Still Comes” and the chugging rocker “Man.” They returned to a cheering crowd with Case promising to bum the crowd out. She backed up her words be delivering a chilling a capella “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu,” a new song about witnessing a parent emotionally abusing their child. The mood lightened with the next number, a rumbling new song called “Local Girl” that seemed to have borrowed some riffs from “Sweet Jane” and put them to good use. The band closed with smiles, some glorious harmonizing and a lot of tambourine shaking on “Ragtime.” — PETE TROSHAK