Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Neko, Hogan, Dylan amazing at the Fitz

I went to the Fitzgerald in St. Paul last night for Neko Case, despite the fact that Jakob Dylan was the headliner. Let there be no confusion about that. I can now say firsthand that Neko has the most beautiful voice in the whole wide world. Believe it.
However, the Neko experience turned out to be only part of what I loved about last night's show.

I don't know much about Jakob Dylan. I had the album everybody else had when he was frontman of the Wallflowers. (Ask me about his dad, on the other hand, and I will rattle off a thousand words on how he's the single most important and gifted contemporary musician, and I honestly don't know through what smudgy lens I would view music had I never set ears on "Blonde on Blonde.") And that's probably a good thing going into the concert. I had a clean slate.

I remember the Wallflowers as being an OK pop-rock band with a couple of OK hits and an interesting-sounding frontman. You certainly can't deny there's a bit of Bob in that voice. Last night, with Three Legs, Jakob seemed to have found a sound that completely suited him. And, I must say, it's a sound reminiscent of some of his father's best work: down-home, rock-country, lyrics that speak to the troubles of common people, with soaring back-up vocals by the wonderful Neko and Kelly Hogan. Voices so smooth and true, you want to close your eyes to take it all in.

I had imagined Jakob wouldn't talk or smile much. But he engaged with the audience and teased Neko a bit on stage. It was neat to see how much he clearly admired her talent. They sang a duet that was absolutely beautiful called "Smile When You Call Me That." Their voices seem to complement each other so well, hers so high and melodic and his so low and gritty. I wouldn't have minded her singing a couple of songs on her own. But she sang on every song, so no real complaints.
Overall, the show was low-key, very intimate and if you like alt-country, you definitely had a good time. The 90-minute set featured songs from Jakob's "Women + Country" album, his latest, "Seeing Things," from 2008, and also those Wallflower hits that I'm sure he can't get away with not playing. But instead of rushing through it like an obligation, he seemed to still enjoy playing "Sixth Avenue Heartache" and "Three Marlenas." And, my god, that is so appreciated. (On a side note, I went a Counting Crows-slash-John Mayer concert in 2003. Counting Crows had been playing their first hit, "Mr. Jones," for 10 years, meaning about 10,000 times, and still totally got into it -- changing the arrangement and putting a lot of energy into the song. John Mayer had been playing his first single for about 10 minutes: rushed through it, didn't care, stank up the stage.)

By the way, there isn't a single bad seat in the house at the Fitzgerald. I was in the fifth row of the first balcony and it felt like I could climb right onto the stage (which had various area rugs for the musicians to stand on and a large four-piece tapestry in the backdrop of a dry countryside with a tumbleweed in the foreground and a telephone pole in the distance.) If you get the chance to see a show at the Fitzgerald or especially to see a show on this particular tour, definitely go. Amazing show.

1 comment:

  1. Blogging on your vacation? I'm impressed (and welcome to my world).