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Neko Case – Live at First Avenue, Minneapolis April 10, 2007

Posted by Walt in mini-review.
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After an enjoyable opening set by guitarist Jon Rauhouse (obviously talented, but not much stage presence), fans at First Avenue were treated to a wonderful performance by Neko Case.

Neko performed virtually all of “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood” starting with “A Widow’s Toast” and a nice variety of older favorites. Outstanding!

My favorite moment was the end of the 1st encore where she performed “John Saw That Number”. I love that song. The lyrics include:

God told the angel “Go see about John!”
So he flew from the pit with the moon ’round his waist
Gathered wind in his fists, and the stars ’round his wrists

“Gathered wind in his fists” is so evocative, but where does it come from? “John Saw That Number” is the one song on the album that is not entirely original. Allmusic.com credits it as “Case, Traditional”. A web page with lyrics for spirituals lists one as:

Ole John de Baptist, ole John Divine
Frogs an’ de snakes gonna eat ole John so bad
God tole de angel: “Go down see ’bout John”
Angel flew frum de bottom uv de pit
Gathered de wind all in his fist
Gathered de stars all ’bout his wrist
Gathered de moon all ’round his waist
Cryin’ “Holy,” cryin’ “Holy,” cryin’ “Holy, my Lord,” cryin’ “Holy”

But further, that specific line comes from the Bible’s Proverbs 30:4 which in part reads, “Who has gathered the wind in His fists?” What terrific sources for a song, and the song did its sources proud. The concert audience responded enthusiastically.

My least favorite moment was listening to the woman in the audience who annoyingly shouted her request for “Mood to Burn Bridges” at every opportunity.

My only quibble with the concert itself is that I wish that some of the songs were given more of a fresh twist for the live show, but that is minor when the performances were so great.

8 out of 10

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