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Road warrior makes the case for new material

Bank of America Pavilion, Boston, August 14, 2011

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Other recent concert reviews
Give Neko Case credit for being a road warrior. She always seems to be out on the road, and now she's doing a turn as the opening act for My Morning Jacket.

Only this time, Case said at the outset of her stint, that this would be a bit different - "an improvised acoustic set." Well, it didn't seem entirely improvised, and it most definitely wasn't totally acoustic either.

Case opened with her usual batch of softer songs ranging from This Tornado Loves You to People Got a Lotta Nerve. Her voice sucks in the listener, although she has never been a belter - having quality songs can help immensely. So will a band that includes Jon Rauhouse on pedal steel.

Perhaps the oddest moment of the night was later on during MMJ's show when Case came out to play the role of Dolly Parton to James' Kenny Rogers on their duet of the syrupy Islands in the Stream. Their take was most different than anything either is used to with Case singing far more powerfully than she did in her own set. For James and band, this was by far the most poppy song of their evening. On its own terms, the song worked, but it was not what you'd expect from either act.

About the only things different from this set and an abundance of others in recent years in the Boston area by Case were that she played one new song (City Swans) and did a chunk of the set acoustic.

Case's star rose a lot with "Middle Cyclone," which came out way back in 2009, but it's also high time that almost 2 years after its release, how about some new material?