Neko Case
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Neko Case

Twilight at the Zoo



There is something quite surreal and serene about seeing one of the sweetest voices in alternative country music singing in an outdoor setting as you’re surrounded by the likes of giraffes, monkeys and random wild birds. Seriously, if you were to ask me how I was going to spend my Saturday night after Soundwave a few weeks ago, I doubt I would have said “Oh you know, just watching Neko Case sing at the Melbourne Zoo while I lay under the stars on a blanket with a bag of chips and a gallon of water” but it actually happened, for real.

I had never been to the Melbourne Zoo before. Growing up an Adelaide boy and settling here around five years ago, I seem to have never really gotten the chance to make it to the Melbourne Zoo and I always promised myself that when the time comes that I do finally get around to going, the situation would be one of, or maybe both of, the following two options: showing overseas guests the marvels of our koalas, wombats and kangaroos, or seeing a kickass show. The latter came first which is weird because seeing a band at a zoo was not something I thought would actually happen considering the number of international guests that have showed up on my doorstep over the years. Alas, with the number of dwindling live venues Melbourne has been suffering lately, I guess they’re sticking bands anywhere they can, so here I was.

I have to say that the Zoo is a fantastic set-up to see bands. I mean, you have all sorts of random animals, there’s a large patch of lawn to lay yourself down and spread out on, there’s a cafeteria, a stage and the PA is a seriously bitchin’ sound system. I got myself a great spot near the front of the stage, sat down and got myself comfortable as I waited for my ears to receive the aural bliss that only Miss Case and her incredible vocal chords can deliver.

As the sun set in the background, Neko Case appeared on stage with her band to much applause and not just from me but from people of all ages. Even the 4 year old child next to me squealed with excitement before knocking over his parents cola as her band broke into the perfect opening track, This Tornado Loves You. I have had a connection with this song and I always become fixated on that one line at the end where she cries out “What will make you believe me?” Well, Miss Case, I believe you. Besides, I’m a sucker for a woman who wears Iron Maiden VANS shoes and can rock out a killer tune on guitar.

Growing up on Metallica, Motorhead and Twisted Sister, it is quite obvious to me that Neko Case is secretly a closet metal head. In fact, my ultimate goal in life now is to go see a Venom concert with her and together we would throw up the metal sign and scream out “Lay down your souls to the god’s rock n roll!” Hell, I’d even settle for Manowar at a European festival since Venom hardly ever tour anywhere. Or even a Celtic Frost cover band, it wouldn’t matter, just as long as it was with her and we could buy some vegetarian pizza after the show. Hey, she did announce she was single.

ANYWAY, the on-stage banter between herself and back-up vocalist, Kelly Hogan, reinforces my belief that she likes metal. Whether she was doing deathly growls or Hogan was commenting on Case’s choice of footwear, there were ongoing references made to metal throughout the night. None of this is reflected in her music though which was song after song of complete angelic awesomeness. Whether she is celebrating love or crying out over heartbreak, Case delivers the sweetest songs that will stay with you long after she has left the stage. Which she did, 70 minutes later much to the tears of all as no doubt we could have sat and listened to her all night, except the guy next to me who had to leave after getting a mysterious text on his phone.

Neko Case is still somewhat of a best kept secret. You want the world to know about, appreciate and love her music but you also like the fact you can see gigs like this and not be surrounded by thousands of people. It’s a catch 22 and you can’t have one without the other. In closing I would like to say that this was possibly one of the best settings to witness live music. Everything about it was perfect and even Melbourne’s weather decided to chill out for a while and not rain or even be freezing cold for a few hours. Way to go, nature! I even took photos of a giraffe before the show because you know, why not?
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