The last night of a tour can be dangerous if an artist already has one foot out the door and pointed toward home.
Neko Case, alongside her stellar band, had both feet planted firmly on the stage at the Orpheum Theatre on Friday night, ready to cap her current jaunt with style. Case and her quintet gave a musically precise yet loose-limbed performance that included lots of good-natured banter, plenty of impressive vocals — both brawny and tender — and a few left-field covers that had the packed house hooting.
Touring in support of her latest album, the excellent mouthful “The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You,” Case admitted to a “Halloween hangover” and confessed she decided to go with a comfy pair of pants over fancy stage clothes for the final show.
Whatever she was wearing worked like a charm as she settled into a groove early with the dynamic one-two opening salvo of the hypnotic “Where Did I Leave That Fire?” and the urgent “This Tornado Loves You.”
From there, Case and her band seamlessly worked through austere weepers like “I Wish I Was the Moon” — enhanced by its stark a capella opening — driving rockers like “Man,” and the Spector-esque, tambourine-laced pomp of tunes like “Red Tide.”
Occasionally, Case joked about weariness but sounded strong, and thanked the audience for a cozy embrace on the last night of the tour.
No discussion of a Case concert could go without mention of her backing singer-gal Friday-onstage foil Kelly Hogan whose immaculate blending with her band leader is at the very heart of the dark beauty of Case’s sound, blending a sweeping, cinematic sound, alt-country heart, and pop smarts.
After getting an underwhelming response for their covers during a show on Halloween, Case and Hogan decided to let loose in the encore with rip-roaring renditions of Adam Ant’s “Place In the Country” and Heart’s “Barracuda” — belted out by Hogan — and “Crazy on You.”
The charmingly chatty Lucy Wainwright Roche shared Case’s carefree spirit performing spare solo acoustic covers of Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” — with help from the crowd — and Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” as well as winsome tunes from her recent album “There’s A Last Time For Everything.”