Last night was Jens Lekman’s (above) third and final sold out show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and his last show in the US. Actually, the majority of his US shows were sold out, so he’s definitely had a good run through. Last night was a magnificent end to his sweetly sentimental run, and a great show by the man who has perfected the art of repurposing pop songs with his own wit and worldly perspective.
But first, Luke Temple played a stark solo set with electric guitar, bathed in a blue spotlight. His songs were a little bit American Football, a little bit Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, with a splash of Bon Iver thrown in. He plucked and strummed while singing soft and steady lyrics of love. Luke is also the frontman of Here We Go Magic, and his solo set was a lot like a paired down version of their slower songs, with folkier vocals and more thoughtful rhythm. On one song, he plucked a heavier, psychedelic melody that sounded like it could have been a b-side off The Beatles’ Revolver album. He began another that he forgot the last half to, saying it had been about four years since he’s played some of the songs. Then, he ended on a lyrically beautiful song that really showcased his songwriting and his voice.
Jens Lekman’s intro music was like that of a child’s music box. He and his new drummer entered stage right to wild applause, but the second he spoke and began “Every Little Hair Knows Your Name,” the venue became immediately silent. Only Jens Lekman fans are this intent and respectful. This opening of Jens on solo acoustic guitar reminded me of something he does really well – making his performance a personal, intimate experience, like we’re all friends watching him perform in his living room…with amazing acoustics and hi-tech stage lighting. The second song picked up with the drummer coming in on crowd favorite “I Saw Her in the Anti-War Demonstration.”
Equally as entertaining and interesting as Jens’ songs, if not more so, are his stories between songs. He offered fun details like the premise for a couple of his songs, telling us he wanted to take us into the courtroom of his mind when he was traveling in Australia and wrote “An Argument With Myself.” He also told the story of when he friend informed him that Kirsten Dunst was in town, so he had to “manically stalk her through the night” and wait at the club he knew she would be at, except that ironically, she was turned away at the door. Then, as he sang the true story in the lyrics, “That in Gothenburg we don't have VIP lines/In Gothenburg we don't make a fuss about who you are,” it was easy to understand how, despite playing numerous sold out shows all over the world, Jens remains unpretentious and humble as ever. After he finished playing his classic “Black Cab,” he said, “That was beautiful the way you all sang along to that song.” Of course, he gets what he gives.
Anyone can write a pop song, but not everyone can write a pop song as original and refreshing as Jens, while still hitting home in the deepest and most honest way. After his set ended, my friend turned to me and told me she had just let go of a past love during “Cowboy Boots,” because it said everything she had needed to hear but hadn’t processed for years. That is what Jens does to people. He’s like a musical healer.
Jens Lekman is off to Europe, where his tour ends at the Pitchfork Festival in Paris. His new EP An Argument With Myself is currently available on Secretly Canadian. Luke Temple has a handful more shows, including Bowery Ballroom on October 25th with CANT.
All photos (c) Kelly Knapp