Anderson Fair, Houston • 5.9.98
We waited expectantly for the show to begin in the cave within a building that is Anderson Fair. Our hopes were high. A lot of magic has taken place there over the years. The thoughts of the fortunate strayed back to Nanci Grifith — One Fair Summer Evening Live at Anderson Fair, and other enchanted evenings. We were hoping tonight would be no exception.
At last, Peter Case came on, guitar in tow, leaned out toward the audience, and filled the room with the first strains of music. We knew instantly we would not be disappointed. Audience participation was high throughout the performance. Early on in the night he asked the crowd to join him and sing the chorus to a song frequently performed but unrecorded, “Space Monkey” (co-written with John Prine), about the first monkey in space. We sang hard and loud. He stood throughout the concert, twisting like a tree in a hurricane, and pounded out song after song. He pulled songs from early in his career, including the very first he ever wrote, full of adolescent angst. Case covered a lot of territory, including songs from his solo debut as well as his most recent album. As always, he paused from time to time to tell the audience pieces of his own history and the history of the songs he played. He told of the old sailor he couldn’t get away from, who gave him the material for “Poor Old Tom.” While he sang, the sailor’s presence and pain haunted the venue.
Other highlights of the show were new songs like “Spell of Wheels” (co-written with Joshua Case, his son) and “Honey Child.” During “Crooked Mile,” he pulled away from the stage, jumped down and furiously played, banged, kicked, cajoled, asking for everything his guitar could give, and finally falling back on stage, exhausted. Yet he still had the energy to end the night by taking requests. When the show was finally over (it went on for over two hours), the audience awoke from Case’s enchantment as if it had been dreaming. We walked out of there tired, not from boredom, but from the emotional roller coaster Peter Case always chooses to take. We were just thankful he took us along for the ride.