For most artists, a live album is a chance to showcase previously released studio songs in a concert setting.
Neko Case didn't follow that formula. Her recently released live CD, The Tigers Have Spoken, is made up mostly of previously unreleased material and was designed to highlight an underexposed side of her sound.
"I had a lot of really nice people at the shows come up going, 'Hey, when are you going to do some more upbeat stuff?'" says Case, whose previous three studio CDs are heavy on darkly hued country-rock balladry. "I thought this was a good opportunity to address what people were asking because, you know, I like playing upbeat songs too, but (the 2002 studio CD) Blacklisted isn't the most upbeat album ever. Touring for that, it was a different kind of a tour. It had a bit of a different sound. So I thought it would be nice to break it up and give fans a different show there.
"Plus, I wanted to do some original material on it and do songs people hadn't heard before, because that would give people more incentive to check it out," she says.
On The Tigers Have Spoken, Case, with the able assistance of her long-time collaborators, the Sadies (multi-instrumentalist Jon Rauhouse and singers Kelly Hogan and Carolyn Mark), breezes through a frisky set of 10 songs.
Case says she was especially pleased that the new album gave her a chance to have the Sadies serve as her backing band.
"I really wanted to make a record with the Sadies," she says. "They are my favorite live band in the entire world, and I thought that would be the most appropriate way to record it. Also, I've never done a live record, and I wanted to learn about that."
As it is, Case seems to have the studio side of her career pretty well mastered. A native of Washington state (who now calls Chicago home), Case cut her teeth on the rock scene in Vancouver, British Columbia, playing in the punk trios Maow and Cub.
Her current tour features a full band and figures to include at least some of the material from The Tigers Have Spoken, as well as tunes from her three studio albums.
Case also hinted that she might test some songs from her next studio CD, which is still taking shape and may be released next spring.
"I can't really compare it -- it's definitely still related to Blacklisted, but I really don't know what it's going to sound like yet," she says. "I never know that until the mixing stage. I've got great sounds to tape and a lot of really great performances by the musicians, and I'm really excited, but I don't know what the final product will sound like yet."
A main reason Case won't be releasing her own album any sooner is because she has another project set for release before then, a new CD, Twin Cinema, with the Vancouver, British Columbia-based supergroup The New Pornographers.
"I sang a lot more on this record than I have on any of them, I think," says Case, who will tour with the New Pornographers in September and October. "I was actually able to get in the studio with them for a decent amount of time. It was great. We had a really good time."
-- Alan Sculley
Neko Case with Low Skies
Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., Denver
Friday, June 3 and Saturday, June 4
Tickets: $16; call 866/468-7621 or visit nipp.com.