Saturday, July 11, 2009
Concert Time: Jenny Lewis!
The week leading up to my 3 weeks of travel has been pretty hectic. Trying to cram some extra wok in to make sure things get off on the right foot for me hasn't been easy, but I hope to enjoy the spoils of my labor now that I am only in store a few days for the rest of the month. So be prepared I plan on doing some serious blog dumps over the next few days.
Starting with last night. My room mate Jason, his girlfriend Autumn, and myself went to see Jenny Lewis in concert, along with her opening act the Heartless Bastards. First off I was a little concerned at the beginning of the show. Doors opened at 7pm but Jenny didn't come onstage until around 9pm. At first the crowd was really light but by the time Jenny performed, the house was fairly packed. I have to admit, it wasn't quite the show I was expecting. Jenny Lewis is a singer/songwriter, very folksy and mellow for the most part. In a concert setting though, she could really run the gamut of emotions. From soft mellow acoustic, to really tearing up a rollicking performance. It was wonderful.
We had arrived early enough to get a primo view of the stage, almost dead center and only about 4 people were in front of us at the railing. We had just a great view of Jenny, so much so that I wish I had brought my camera, something I vowed last night that I would do at every show I go to from now on (to at least post a photo on the blog for posterity's sake). Sometimes it felt as if she was singing right at you. That part was amazing.
In a bit of a bonus, a friend of Jenny Lewis named Morgan opened the show. She did a couple of acoustic songs all alone on the stage and was quite nice. She played in a bigger band that I don't quite remember the name for, but it was very bluesy/ folk. She only did about 5 or 6 songs but it was nice. After her came the Heartless Bastards. It was their last night on tour with Jenny, and I got the impression that things hadn't quite gone as planned for them. Billed as a band, it was really only one lady and another guy who came out for 3 songs to play slide guitar. She had a really nice voice and could belt out some wonderful melodies. Just what I expected from the opening act to a Jenny Lewis concert. An extra bonus was a final duet with the lead singer and Jenny doing a wonderful song that really showcased off their harmonic range, though it was a song I didn't recognize.
The main show kicked off about 9:15 and Jenny did about an hour and a half performance. First off she looked great, very hot in a print sundress with black open toe boots and red scarf. She came out leading a very rousing rendition of "See Fernando" that really showed off her ability to get the house moving. It was much more rock and roll than I expected. All throughout the show she made great song choices that really ran the gamut of emotions, from rocking out to getting slow and emotional to everything in between.
Her band was pretty incredible too. Depending on the song people would come and go off-stage to participate in the act. One girl in her band (in some really short shorts!) played several instruments from percussion drums, guitars, to harmonica (even MORE COWBELL!). What I liked about it was the feel that any player could do any number of roles, from backup vocals to simple harmonies and you never quite knew what each player was going to do in any given song.
As for Jenny Lewis herself. She was simply amazing. She has a voice that can go for miles and she was on full display last night. From the very rock sounds of "See Fernando"'s kickoff and into an almost James Brown-esque version of "Jack Killed Mom" to the almost sad quiet of "Pretty Bird" and "Trying My Best To Love You" it was incredible. Jenny also did a wonderful cover of former Beatle George Harrison's "Handle with Care" and even treated us to two brand new songs. By far the best parts of the night were in the encore, where she played a very harmonious version of "Acid Tongue" with her band on backup vocals and her on guitar and in the main show where she sang my favorite Rilo Kiley song (the other band she is in) called Silver Lining. Her voice was almost haunting while she sang that. She also played my second favorite song of hers, "Rise Up With Fists" so I was happy.
If I have any complaints, it would be the omission of two of her songs. One would be "Under the Black Sand", the second hit off of her newest album. I can't say I was upset about that though, I didn't really notice she didn't play it until I was writing this post. I just find it a bit of a surprise. The second was the omission of the song that turned me onto Jenny, "Rabbit Fur Coat". A soft, sad, poignant ballad that tells a story, like a folksy country song that was the title track off of her first album. I remember writing on my blog as my room mate had ITunes on shuffle and the song came on when he was out of the room. I listened to the song 3 times in a row, caught by its haunting melody, so unlike anything that I normally listen to. I love that song and I was a little sad that she didn't play it. Maybe next time.
Don't think that ruined the show though, the unexpected inclusion of Rilo Kiley's "Silver Lining" more than compensated for that. I can easily say this was one of the best shows I have ever seen. I think I throw that around a lot post concert, how every show is great, but this was above and beyond what I expected. I think next to maybe the Weezer show last year, and my very first concert (The Cure in 1993) this show was the best. Jenny Lewis really sold me as a fan with her performance last night. Her voice, her stage presence, her attitude, all of it just further cemented why she is such a great performer. The songs sounded so much like they do on the record, but with more heart. Even at the Weezer show some songs didn't have that studio quality that makes them sound the way they do, here every song sounded that much better. Her live presence really set her show apart.
It is with a whole hearted recommendation that you should see her live if at all possible. I cannot wait for another opportunity to see her live, or even perform with Rilo Kiley if the chance presents itself. She was on a very short list of must see musicians for me and I am very grateful I got the chance to see her. It was just a wonderful time with a wonderful performer. Jenny Lewis.
End of Line.