Jens opens the night with a song about cutting out the bullshit, "I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You."
**Note: Pictures were blindly taken. The LCD screen on my camera is broken.
It's impossible to see Jens Lekman perform and not smile. It's like when I walk out of Pinkberry/Red Mango/Forty Carrots with my froyo; a huge smile just spreads across my entire face. Not that I'm comparing Jens to frozen yogurt, because I would easily give up the froyo for a long while to see my favorite Swede play again. Last night, Jens Lekman played a sold-out show at Webster Hall with his back-up ensemble. And, he is every bit as silly and funny in real life as he is in some of his songs.
Jens started out the night with a small request, asking the audience not to record any videos to put up on YouTube. No videos have popped up yet, but who knows if people actually listened to him. From there, he transitioned into a song about cutting out the bullshit, "I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You." Jens played some new songs, songs off of the amazing Night Falls Over Kortedala, and older material off of When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog and Oh You're So Silent, Jens, a compilation of his EPs. "New Directions" is a new song that Jens wrote when he left Kortedala for the last time. Apparently, the roads in Kortedala form some sort of labyrinth. While it's easy to end up inside, it's hard to get out. So, cab drivers request that passengers come prepared with Google map directions. These Google directions were the inspiration for his new song.
Jens' antics continued with his many entertaining stories and commentaries. One of the most memorable moments was when Jens told us about a show he played in Florence. He told the crowd how nice he thought Florence was and how much enjoyed being there. Apparently, this turned out to be a huge mistake. Two guys approached him after the show, and they were all worked up because Jens said that their city was a nice place. So, in New York, Jens was not taking any chances. With a deadpan face, Jens said, "Fuck you, New York." He went on to complain about the pigeons and tall buildings. It was quite endearing. My favorite performance was an extended version of "A Postcard to Nina." The song itself is a great anecdote, and Jens made it even better with extra details and quotes. And, yes, it is a true story.
To add to the credibility of his live show, Jens Lekman completely won over the crowd and convinced them to play along with him. The New York crowd is not very impressionable, but they were still singing, whistling, clapping, and snapping along with Jens. Although he had band members on drums, bass, violin, cello, saxophone, trumpet, and a laptop, Jens played a few songs by himself. Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo, one of the songs, was completely transformed with the audience whistling the instrumental melody. The crowd also provided vocal support during Pocketful of Money, singing "I'll come running with my heart on fire."
The only disappointing part of the show last night was when it came to an end. I would have been happier if Jens continued to play for another hour or two. Basically, if he had performed every single song he had ever written, I would have been ecstatic. Also, I would have loved to have seen him perform "Kanske Ar Jag Kar I Dig," but it was a great show, nonetheless. Jens invited the entire crowd to a house party in Brooklyn, where he planned to continue playing. You can find coverage on the house party here. Last time he played in New York, he wanted to continue his show at Union Square. Unfortunately, he didn't know where it was or how to get there. Oh, Jens.
We all need a little (or a lot) of Jens in our lives.
Playing an imaginary triangle at the end of "The Opposite of Hallelujah."
Making airplanes with their arms during "Sipping on the Sweet Nectar" (I think? Please correct me if I'm wrong).
A Postcard to Nina - Jens Lekman
Kanske Ar Jag Kar I Dig - Jens Lekman
Your Arms Around Me - Jens Lekman
A Sweet Summer's Night on Hammer Hill - Jens Lekman