Recorded live this past Spring over a series of club dates in Chicago and Toronto, Neko Case’s The Tigers Have Spoken is that rare instance of a live album being so much more than a contractual obligation or greatest hits package with crowd noises. Instead, it was intended to be just as essential a part of Neko’s discography as either Blacklisted or Furnace Room Lullabye, only showcasing the more joyous side of her music rather than the darker tone of those records. A carefully chosen set list of covers and originals highlight the eclecticism of Case’s influences, from the Shangri-Las’ “The Train From Kansas City” to Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Soulful Shade Of Blue”. The original numbers demonstrate just how strong Case’s songwriting has gotten over the past few years, with songs like the title track and rarity “Favorite” standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the covers.
The sound quality of the recording is exceptional, almost to the extent that it sounds more like a studio recording with some crowd noise than a conventional live album. But whatever is lost in energy from the audience is made up for by the superb performances by Case and her backing band, which consisted of Toronto’s premiere psych/country/surf outfit The Sadies, fellow Corn Sister Carolyn Mark and bluegrass all-stars Jim and Jennie & The Pinetops.
More than just an appetizer to whet your appetite before Neko’s next studio full-length comes out, The Tigers Have Spoken is a satisfying meal all its own.