Thursday, July 27, 2006

Oh, you're so silent Jens.

Jens Lekman
Southgate House Newport, KY

“We are going to play exactly 12 songs tonight,” Jens Lekman said to the crowd as he and his 6-piece, all-girl band took the stage at the Southgate House on Tuesday night. This introduction to Lekman was the first hint at securing him as the most self-assured, soft-spoken shy guy I’ve ever seen.
The stage setup was endearing, with Lekman front and center and his band surrounding him; it was as if he was floating in a soup bowl of fashionable ladies. Lekman is a great storyteller in and out of song. After playing “Black Cab”, he regaled an interaction he once had with a fan concerning his experiences with the song, and just stopped right in the middle of “Do You Remember the Riots?” to tell us its history. We were also treated to an a cappella version of “Tram #7 To Heaven”, sang by Lekman as he replaced the broken A string on his guitar. While this may sound as if it would feel somewhat forced, it was actually the complete opposite. In fact, it even left me wondering if all of Lekman’s clever remarks, as well as that broken string, weren’t all painstakingly planned.
With various EPs and the full-length When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog, Lekman has a plethora of beloved songs to choose from. The setlist wandered throughout his discography including older tracks dating back to the 2003 Maple Leaves EP to a couple brand new songs, one of which was entitled “A Postcard To Nina” and told the story of Jens masquerading as his friend Nina’s boyfriend as she hid from her parents the fact that she was a lesbian.
About six songs in, a young, fair-haired fan approached the singer and prompted him to urge the crowd closer to the stage, in front of the oppressive chairs and tables. Everyone quickly obliged, as if we had been simply waiting for Lekman’s permission to do so. He now immediately says, “We’ve almost played all of our dance songs,” then thought for a moment, “You can probably dance to this,” and began “Pocketful of Money”. Indeed, we danced. Next, Lekman informed us he had brought our Christmas presents, while his keyboard player emptied 2 garbage bags of balloons into the crowd as the band launched into the triumphant “You Are the Light (by which I travel into this and that)”. It was a joyous occasion as the audience and band alike batted rainbow-colored balloons around the room throughout the course of the song.

Well, we actually managed to squeeze a 13th song from Lekman that night. Though, being the gentleman that he is, he didn’t leave the stage without making sure we understood that he would sing no more songs onstage but if we wanted to hear anything else to just ask and he would sing it for us. Lekman satiated us for the last time with an acoustic rendition of the clever, honest “Maple Leaves”. The crowd was enthralled and suddenly the rest of the band appeared out of nowhere on the 2nd floor balconies, on either side of Lekman with horns and shakers and guided us through to the conclusion of the song and the evening. It was simply magical.
I left that show loving Jens Lekman more than I ever knew I did.

Jens Lekman - "You Are the Light (by which I travel into this and that)"

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