Last Night: Neko Case & Merle Haggard

"/>

thehag.jpg

Click the photo for an audio slideshow. Photos by Jenny Jiménez.

Merle Haggard, with Neko Case
Date: Feb. 11, 2006
Venue: The Paramount Theatre
Random


"/>

Last Night: Neko Case & Merle Haggard

Check out our audio slideshow of the concert.

  • Last Night: Neko Case & Merle Haggard

  • ">

    thehag.jpg

    Click the photo for an audio slideshow. Photos by Jenny Jiménez.

    Merle Haggard, with Neko Case
    Date: Feb. 11, 2006
    Venue: The Paramount Theatre
    Random incident: Overheard in line at the box office: "Who is this Neko Case guy? Is he local?"

    Review by Hannah Levin 

    It’s a rare and moving occurrence when a live music experience can cause a seated audience to randomly leap to its feet (especially in the formal, opulent confines of the Paramount Theater), let alone burst into tears, but many audience members at last night’s Neko Case/Merle Haggard show did just that.

    Watching the generation gap in action was entertaining in itself (overheard in line at the box office: “Who is this Neko Case guy? Is he local?”), and Merle’s merch selection was pretty over-the-top (nearly all his CDs were sold-out, yet 16 variants on logo-embossed trucker caps remained), but it was the performances that made it feel like a unique and historical event.

    Case was as elegant as she always is, clad in an elaborately embroidered black frock and precariously poised in her strappy high heels. Her opening set was understandably shorter than last year’s show at the Moore, but the song selection was similar, drawing primarily from Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, with a couple of numbers from Blacklisted. Case’s voice was simply undeniable, mixing smoky seduction with a powerhouse, clarion delivery, and Kelly Hogan’s backing vocals sweetened and elevated things with seamless grace.

    Her closing number, a sultry cover of Sarah Vaughan's "Look for Me (I'll Be Around)’, was the perfect end note and a reminder of why Neko Case can justly be considered this generation’s version of Patsy Cline. Mr. Haggard may turn 70 this year and perhaps the opportunities to see him live are dwindling rapidly, but he gave his fans exactly what they wanted: almost two hours of nearly flawless renditions of his hits, and a handful of songs from his newer releases on Epitaph.

    Backed by a smartly dressed, 9-piece band and one silver-throated female backing vocalist, Haggard launched his set with “Me Without You,” and toured his way through the highlights of his back catalog, including “The Bottle Let Me Down,” “White Line Fever,” “Take Me Back to Tulsa,” and a high-spirited cover of Johnny Cash’s “Jackson.” Things took a bit of a sideways turn when he chose to bring up the subject of Hilary Clinton’s bid for the White House, a topic that the slightly conservative crowd greeted with a disorienting conflation of cheers and jeers. His growing tendency to lean left quieted everyone down, however, when he launched into a new song with the refrain, “Let’s Put a Woman in Charge.”

    Political proclivities aside, Haggard was always attentive to and appreciative of his audience, eventually telling the starry-eyed crowd, “I’ve enjoyed working for you, ladies and gentlemen—see you next time,” and bringing down the curtain down with “I Think I’ll Just Sit Here and Drink.”

     
    comments powered by Disqus

    Friends to Follow