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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Neko Case, The Sadies offer no surprises, but reach high expectations

El Rey Theater, Los Angeles, Cal., Dec. 4, 2004

By Dan MacIntosh

LOS ANGELES, CA - Chances are good that if you dig Neko Case's new "The Tigers Have Spoken" live album, you would also have also dug on this Case concert.

That's because the lion's share - or should it be tiger's share? - of her material was drawn from that exemplary release. And not only did she sing plenty of the songs off of "The Tigers," but she also brought along the excellent The Sadies as her touring backing band, the same group heard throughout the disc.

The small downside of such a mirror reflective CD-to-concert experience is that this night was a fairly predictable one. But since Case is such a drop-dead wonderful vocalist, her singing tonight might best be described as consistently great, actually one of the few good sorts of predictabilities.

Case is a singer's singer, which means that she's seemingly never seen a style hasn't liked. So when she sang Buffy Saint-Marie's "Soulful Shade of Blue," she sounded, well, soulful. Then on Loretta Lynn's "Rated X," she morphed into something akin to the Coal Minor's Daughter's younger, and equally spunky, sister. (Of course, if you own the new album, you already know this).

Even though Case's set list lacked the element of surprise, there were plenty of other fine elements - especially vocal ones - that made it worthwhile.

The Sadies preceded Case with a suit of their own surfy/western ware. And unlike previous stops through town, the low-voiced Dallas Good talked about as much with that unique voice of his, as sing. Perhaps he recognized that a lot of these concert goers were not already Sadies fans, so he felt compelled to pre-announce every single song in the set.

The band played plenty of song off the new "Favourite Colours" release, including the speedy-picked "Northumberland West." The group also picked a few smart covers, including the bluegrass of "Pretty Polly" and the western swing of "Stay All Night."

Even though this night included few (if any) new revelations, it didn't really matter. It's okay to get what you expect, if what you receive matches your high expectations. And such was the case with Case and her Sadies tonight.