Neko Case has had several homes, the most recent a farm in Vermont. But Saturday night at the Rialto, she seemed very much in touch with the time she's spent as a Tucsonan and the friends she's made here. Occasionally portrayed as seeming prickly, Case was obviously attitude-free on Saturday. She built an easy rapport with the Rialto crowd early on and continued to engage them throughout the set.
Songs from her 2013 release, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
powered the set. That record is more than worthy of all its hype; fans cheered their favorites. But the full house was silenced by an as-yet-unrecorded song that filled several hundred eyes with tears. It was an a capella number from the point of view of an abandoned child. Case said it was inspired by a youth service organization run by the wife of multi-instrumentalist Jon Rauhaus. Kelly Hogan provided light touches of harmony as she did throughout the set.
"Hex," a song by Freakwater's Catherine Ann Irwin that Case frequently covers was another show-stopper, featuring backing vocals by Hogan and Carolyn Mark.
Arizonan Rauhouse, a stalwart of Case's band, was well-known to the crowd, having frequently performed in Tucson with his own band. In addition to playing guitars and pedal steel, he introduced an emerging talent on trombone.