Live: Neko Case Serenades The Sunset At The World Financial Center


Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival w/Neko Case, Charles Bradley He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister
World Financial Center
Thursday, July 12

Better than: Happy hour inside.

Last night Neko Case, singer-songwriter and sometimes New Pornographer, headlined the second night of the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival in the World Financial Center, playing for a crowd of post-work revelers, Neko devotees and a surprising number of dudes in full spandex finishing up their bike rides.

After an instrumental intro from his backing band The Extraordinaires, soul singer Charles Bradley—resplendent in velvet tuxedo jacket—took the stage. He belted out the gorgeous “Heartache and Pain” and “No Time for Dreaming” as the sun began to set over New Jersey. Occasionally, some of the nuance of soul music gets lost in a festival setting, but Bradley’s voice commands attention and his band of young dudes provided him with enough muscle to captivate the crowd. I noticed the sunset, but I didn’t get distracted by it.

As darkness fell, Case and her band took the stage and from the jump they were battling sound issues. Case’s monitor “blew up” before they went on, and it forced the band to strip back their set and lean heavily on the acoustic numbers. It’s a testament to the power of Case’s voice (as well as charming backup singer Kelly Hogan’s) that the band held it together through extremely delicate songs like “Maybe Sparrow” and standout “Middle Cyclone.” Despite the issues, the mood remained light with Case and Hogan expressing love for Bradley and noting the beauty of the surroundings. Hogan noted; “This is the time in the day where anyone could get pregnant.”

I haven’t gotten my pregnancy test back yet, but if the miracle of male conception is going to happen, I think Charles Bradley and Neko Case would be a solid choice for a soundtrack. I’ll keep you posted.

Critical bias: Few terms instill me with fear like “Blues Festival.” Throw in the word “Lowdown” and you are asking for trouble.

Random notebook dump: Everyone in Neko Case’s band looks like they have, at some point, made maple syrup from scratch.

Random notebook dump II: Hippies will take any musical cue to do that twirly dance. I’d like to test that theory with a band like Swans.

Set list:
That Teenage Feeling
Maybe Sparrow
People Got A Lotta Nerve
The Tigers Have Spoken
Things That Scare Me
Margaret vs. Pauline
Hold On, Hold On
Middle Cyclone
New Song
I Wish I Was the Moon
Star Witness
Knock Loud

Don’t Forget Me

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