Whenever I go on work trips to Bellevue, WA, and I arrive in my luxuriously appointed, yet essentially lonely, hotel room, I always listen to Neko Case singing songs about heartbreak, small town animosity, and Tacoma, which lies somewhere down the road from Seattle and is locally most famous for a paper mill and monster truck rallies. Neko Case is one of those modern country singers that it’s acceptable to listen to; lots of banjo and pedal steel, less of some mulleted inbred singing about his pick up truck.
A few weeks ago, while at the Esplanade for a ukulele concert, I saw she was visiting Singapore, so we booked a babysitter and two tickets and tonight we went to sit in the second row of the concert hall. Those were the only tickets left on sale, which made me assume the show was sold out, but the concert hall was at most three quarters full.
Before the first song, the band invited the audience to move up to the front. A vast swathe of people from the back rushed forward and stood right in front of the stage, which meant the poor people in the third row could only see the back of other people’s heads and backsides. It took a little while for things to reach equilibrium, and then I sat down to watch the rest of the show.
They played all my favourites, like This Tornado Loves You and Star Witness and the song about killer whales, as well as a song where a man with a huge beard played a bright green trombone that looked like he’d made it out of spare parts from a John Deere tractor. I tried to take a photograph but an usher told me off. I think you’re not meant to make recordings of tractor spare part experiments, so I only have that single blurry picture as evidence. Oh well.
There was no support act, and even including a four song encore (with a Harry Nilsson cover that wasn’t utterly depressing) it was over in 90 minutes. That was about 66 cents per minute, but better that than three hours and then rushing back to find the baby awake and enraged.
In fact, Felicity has been pretty great all day. She and I both slept until almost ten this morning, and was a cheery baby all day. It also rained for the first time in six weeks, a proper downpour to clean the muck out of the air. I guess that might have made Neko Case feel more at home, coming from the Pacific Northwest, instead of the unremitting sunshine we’ve had up to now.
After the concert, we returned home on the train, stopping to get some sausages and a pretzel at the shop downstairs. After an hour and a half of American country-folk in an air conditioned hall in the tropics, what could be more appropriate than German food?