You couldn’t have a bad time at a Jens Lekman show if you tried. Despite the frigid winds and icy sidewalks, a sizeable line huddled outside Brighton Music Hall for the sold out concert this Wednesday. The wait paid off, as the Swedish indie-pop singer did his whimsical songs justice (and then some) in a joyful, warm and electric set.
The opener, Lisa/Liza, started off with a few acoustic, folky songs, filling the room with ghostly guitar distortions and her sweetly brooding voice. Unfortunately, the ethereal atmosphere was cut through by a slightly boisterous crowd that seemed to think she was there to serve as background music. Liza played assuredly through the din of the crowd, impressively ignoring the Boston bro who was asserting that CD’s were a lost medium.
Shortly after Lisa/Liza left the stage, Lekman made his entrance to the great delight of the crowd. He started with an acoustic version of “To Know Your Mission” off his newest album, Life Will See You Now. After the intimate first song, Lekman introduced his all-female backing band one-by-one and launched into a lively performance of the first single off Life, the disco-calypso “What’s That Perfume You Wear?”
It quickly became apparent just how die-hard the crowd was— and that a Jens Lekman show was not a one-time event. Over half of the crowd cheered that they had seen him before. “It’s nice to see some familiar faces,” he said. “I like growing old with you.” The crowd sang along to every song, much to the delight of Lekman. He ended many songs by saying, “That was nice!” and jokingly offered to bring the crowd on tour as his backup choir.
On stage, Lekman is just as modest, genuine and funny as on his records. Whether he was shaking his tambourine over the audience, swaying during instrumental breaks with his eyes closed and a thoughtful smile on his face, or mock-proposing to an audience member during “I Know What Love Isn’t,” Jens made the Boston show feel like something special—a rare occasion, an all-welcoming club that new friends were being initiated into.
Lekman’s lyrics are known for telling unique, whimsical stories, and his newest record is no different. Both the upbeat, dance-y songs and his thoughtful, acoustic ones translated excellently into live music. Mixed into the setlist were a few favorites off his exceptional 2007 album, Night Falls Over Kortedala, including “The Opposite of Hallelujah” and “Sipping on the Sweet Nectar.” He played nearly all of the songs off his new album, infusing each with an infectious joy and satisfying both the new listener and the committed fan. The last two songs, “Dandelion Seeds” and “Black Cab” put the crowd in a relaxed trance as Lekman wound down, but this goodbye was only his first. The enthusiastic crowd demanded not one, but two encores. In the first, Jens sang another old favorite, “Maple Leaves,” and one of his most popular songs, “A Postcard to Nina.”
The only song Lekman performed in his second encore distilled the mood of the entire night. His intimate songs, the passionate crowd, the feeling of rarity, and even the weather outside all came together as he sang a song he hadn’t in over 10 years—“The Cold Swedish Winter.” “I looked outside this morning, and I just thought of it,” he said. “You’ll have to help me if I forget some of the words.” Whispering the last lines of the song and allowing the crowd’s collective voice to swell in and out, Lekman parted ways for the last time with a contented crowd, leaving smiles on every face. Until next time, Jens.
Review and photos by Sophie Sachar