Massey Hall in Toronto, ON
May 9, 2014
Review by: Chad Hutchings
Neko Case shared the stage with The Dodos as one of the biggest feature shows to this year's Canadian Music Week.
Despite being American-born and bred, Neko Case has strong ties north of the border. After spending a solid chunk of her life here, she managed to be a part of plenty of Canadian efforts, most notably The New Pornographers. Maybe that's why she seemed so genuinely happy to play for a Toronto audience during CMW, filling that expansive Massey stage with an equally expansive backing band, supplemented now and then by members of supporting act The Dodos.
Known for being charming and sharp, Case takes ownership of any stage that she finds herself on, and this night was just another example of what a staggering performer she's become. Her sprawling 23 song set was broad from across her career (including "Lion's Jaws", a collaboration with our very own The Sadies), and the whole performance with every pause in between was full of feeling that almost came too easily - a strength that was probably extra punctuated because her musical performance was so damned tight.
While Neko Case's name sitting at the top of the marquee, I'll admit that seeing The Dodos is what drew me out for this show. After hearing their sophomore Visiter playing on some sleepy afternoon at Sneaky Dees, they've been a mainstay on the old stereo, and an opportunity to see them in a space as storied as Massey screamed my name.
That Massey stage is a daunting one, though, and they didn't mind saying as much. "This place looks bigger from here than it does from there", admitted frontman Meric Long before the duo (made a trio by the addition of a tour guitarist) launched into "Black Night" from 2011's No Color. If Meric was right, the place must have been absolutely gigantic from where he stood, because the three looked awfully small on the stage that was already set for Neko Case. But, despite being in someone else's element, their effort was on par with plenty of headliners that have seen that room. Unfortunately, it can be tough to fill a building that big with sound from only three instruments, and so the performance was not as strong as it could be in a smaller room. However, they only really came up short when compared to their previous Toronto shows in different spaces that better accentuated their rolling, always-triumphant tracks. Objectively, The Dodos made it well worth showing up early, and the Toronto audience seemed to agree, focusing through the set with a hushed attention that's not often seen from us for a supporting act.