Last time I saw Jens, he played twice the city and got together with fans at a rooftop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to play some tunes with just his acoustic guitar in a very cold night of Fall 2007. He promised he was coming back for Spring, when the weather was warmer and he didn't need a pair of gloves to play. He kept his promise.
Jens Lekman got on stage with four girls and a DJ this time. One on violin, one on cello, a very cute drummer, the ever smiling bassist and the guy in charge of sampling live all those catchy songs I don't know and Jens uses in his own songs. The sampling at this show was particularly great because Jens was extending them every time the DJ used them, with his full band and his voice. I felt the man was making a tribute to them, and being cool at it.
Lekman asked the audience not to record the show and post it online for all the world. He wanted it to be special, he wanted to be special only for us, the ones who were there with him, and not for the rest of the world the next day. The band started saying no word and play two or three songs straight through. No time to waste. This was their last stop in this tour and even though they must have been exhausted, that feeling of closing out a great couple of months of playing all over the US for their fans, must have had some soon-to-be-missed king of feeling attached to it too. They looked like they really wanted to play... like if it was the last time. Temporarily, I guess, it was.
I lost the piece of paper where I wrote the names of the songs he played. As always he got stories for us to introduce some of them. An old one now, about his lesbian friend Nina, that nobody minds hearing it again and again, one about his old hair dresser, a new one about a fan wanting to hear the song that has a "tutu" in it (it turned out to be Black Cat) and a very new one for a very new song called New Directions... too many (new)s there! He said he wrote that song, as some others, after looking at a google map for hours trying to find his way out of the most boring place he has ever lived, Kortedala. So is that a real place? I though it was imaginary. Anyway, I hear You Can Call Me Al in it (Jens actually plays it sometimes, but without the chorus), it has a Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo vibe, one of my favorite songs by him, and yes, it rules.
Since I got Night Falls Over Kortedala, that very boring place now I would like to visit one day if the music reflects anything about it, I went back in Jens catalog and consider myself a big fan of all his stuff. He has definitely got way better after his When I Wanted to Be Your Dog, and really got it working for him since Oh You're So Silent Jens. He played only one song from his first album and many many others from his last two. Unfortunately, he didn't play Kanske Ar Jag Kar I Dig, a song I am currently digging way too much these days. Here is what I remember he played, in no particular order:
I am Leaving You Because I don't Love YouJens doesn't play with his band all the time. When he is not dancing with all of them on stage like butterflies, he plays stripped down versions of his mellow and not so mellow songs by himself. Standouts Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo and A Sweet Summer's Night On Hammer Hill are good examples of that... they get very good treatments without the extra sounds but his guitar and voice (and some "pom popom popom popom popom popom popom" from the audience), showing you Lekman at his best.
A Postcard to Nina
You Are the Light
It Was A Strange Time In My Life
Sipping on the Sweet Nectar
The Opposite of Hallelujah
Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo
New Directions (new!)
A Sweet Summer's Night On Hammer Hill
Pocketful of Money
A Little Lost (Original by Arthur Russell)
Your Arms Around Me
Lekman did two or three encores, or better said he tried to leave the stage two or three times but everybody kept asking him to come back and delight us even more. I doubt he does it for all his shows, but I already mentioned this one was the last one of this tour... it had to be celebrated (there was actually an after-show in Brooklyn where he sang a couple more songs), and we all joined him at it. Among some others, he played my favorite song by him, Pocketful of Money, and a beautiful cover of Arthur Russell's A Little Lost, and I got goose bumps. Jens, I am not a fan of me getting goose bumps, because surely you will make me have them again, but see you next time... for sure. [photos of the show]
Were you at the show? How did you like it?
Jens Lekman Links: At NPR, Stream Night Falls Over Kortedala, Official Website, Wikipedia, MySpace, at Secretly Canadian