Monday, October 29, 2007

Jens Lekman at the Music Hall of Williamsburg

Last night Megan and I bared the elements (what happened to autumn, by the way? how did we go right from summer to winter?) and went to go see Jens Lekman play a solo performance at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. At the risk of sounding a little too over-the-top, it was, without a doubt, one of the greatest show's I've been to. What made it great? Let us count the ways...

First and foremost, Lekman put on an amazing solo performance. His voice is even stronger and more assured than it appears on the record. That, combined with his excellent songwriting, made him a perfect candidate for a solo show. On a story-song like "A Postcard to Nina," he made you feel as though he were quietly and casually singing this song to you in the den of somebody's house. It's pretty hard to get across an "intimate" vibe when you have an audience of 600 people watching you, put he was in command of his songs and the audience for the entire show.

In addition, the crowd itself was incredible. Say what you will about Williamsburg, but it is without question a neighborhood filled with music lovers. It was heartening to see so many people more than willing to clap, to sing along, and to snap their fingers. For the song "A Sweet Summer's Night on Hammer Hill" (mp3) they even sang along with the difficult "bomp-a-bomp-a-bomp-a-bomp-a-bomp-a-bomp-a-bomp" chorus! Lekman wisely played off the crowd, giving them opportunities to sing along while effortlessly deflecting some annoying hipster requests along the way.

Finally, the set was perfectly constructed. Almost all of the songs he played were favorites from his three records, and the segues between them were perfect. On a personal note, if you had asked me what 10 songs I would have wanted to hear from him, practically every song I would have chosen found its way into his performance. He came out for two encores (possibly 3, if you include the psuedo-encore that Megan insists should count as well), with the second encore consisting of a cover of "You Can Call Me Al" and a half-English/half-Swedish version of "Maple Leaves," one of his best songs. The whole set was about 90 minutes, and didn't feel a minute too short or too long, which I can't remember ever feeling about a show. "Do you all have to work tomorrow?" he asked before the second encore, "because I could play all night."

It was a great time to see somebody that I think could really be on the cusp of, if not stardom, maybe semi-stardom? The New York Times, by the way, seems to agree, they have a great write-up of the other (full band) show he played on Saturday. While I don't know about that show, I can say pretty confidently that he made 600 fans for life last night.


Megan said...

Jens certainly won me over! What an awesome show.

(Complete with on-stage dancing, both free-form and choreographed, for those of you who sadly missed it).

And he totally played three encores, because he loves us all so much.

Josh said...

Yeah, I forgot about the dancing. It was pretty spirited.

I suppose I'll cede that there were 3 encores. He didn't leave the stage for one of them, though, so I think you have to grant that it was of the "pseudo" variety.

Ami said...

Man, I wish I had been more prompt in listening to the Jens Lekman album that I've had downloaded (legally, from eMusic, I swear) for over a month. I could have gone to the show, too. Because this guy is FABULOUS.