Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Jens Lekman | Paradise Rock Club | Oct 29

After getting lost in Boston on my way to see Jens Lekman at the Paradise on Monday and nearly missing the show, here's my feelings about our founding fathers...good with democracy...suck-ass with urban planning. Geezum crow! Such a poorly laid out city. If you miss a turn, you're done.

On with the show. Some nice but completely forgettable band opened for Jens. Around 9pm, the guy above, who we later learned was Viktor Sjöberg, walked across the stage and took a place behind a laptop. Besides thinking he looked like a villain from a Tintin book, I didn't really pay him any attention and continued my conversation with my friends. However, after a few minutes, I realized he was programming the music we were enjoying. A few minutes later, Jens and the rest of the band came out on stage.

The band was comprised of Jens, Viktor and five women; with everyone dressed in white from head to toe. It was eye-catching but, quite frankly, the whole look had a bit of a cult feeling to it. It even conjured up images of Susan Atkins, et al from the Manson trial.

They opened the show with "Into Eternity" which led into a set chock full of songs off Night Falls Over Kortedala and a few other his better known songs. As best as I can recall, they played (not in this order):

The Opposite of Hallelujah
Sipping On the Sweet Nectar
A Postcard to Nina
Your Arms Around Me
Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo
A Sweet Summer's Night on Hammer Hill
Black Cab
You Are the Light
Maple Leaves
The Cold Swedish Winter
You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon cover)

With all the various musicians and Viktor's laptop, they were able to replicate the full chamber pop sound of his album recordings. However, that was also a slight problem too since he didn't seem to stray from those versions much either. The last time I saw him, he had a smaller band with him which led to him having to alter the arrangements of his songs much more which I enjoyed.

Towards the end of "Sipping on the Sweet Nectar", the band dropped their instruments and started to fly around the stage. I guess it keeps with the theme of the video for the song where Lekman is seen flying a small plane.

One thing that was consistent from the last time I saw Lekman was the way he gets the crowd to fall in love with him. He has a very humble but amusing way of talking to the crowd that makes the time between the songs as entertaining as the songs themselves. At one point, some folks in the front row held up a sign about the Red Sox winning the World Series. Lekman read the sign and said, "Oh, I see your baseball team did something. I can't speak about that. I don't know much about baseball. I enjoy badminton. That's why I want to move to the southern hemisphere because they are as crazy about badminton there as I am. Perhaps I'll move to Malaysia." It's sounds weird now but he makes you smile and laugh with his little tales.

My one big complaint about the show is similar to my problem with the Gogol Bordello show. It felt a bit scripted. And my feelings were confirmed when I saw pictures from the Philadelphia show. If you notice the photo of the band flying around on stage and the set list, it was nearly identical to the show in Boston. Combined with the lack of variation in the songs, the show felt more stiff than the show I saw in Bennington two years ago.

I think I would have preferred to have seen the show he did in Brooklyn over the weekend where it was just Lekman and a bongo player. Lekman played his regular show and then suggested that everyone meet him on the roof of the building next door for some more songs. A few people ordered pizza and Lekman hung out playing tunes on his acoustic guitar. Now, that's a unique experience.

One of the highlights of the show was that it ended by 10:25 which meant I was able to get back to Montpelier by 1:15 which is fairly reasonable for a Boston show. Thankfully, the founding father's road system didn't screw me up on the way out of the city.

I recorded a few songs with the video setting on my camera. However, they are too long to upload to YouTube. So, I ripped the mp3 files from the videos and posted them below. I missed the beginning and ending of his cover of Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al" but I still posted it since it's kind of a funny version. Lekman said he always liked the verses but hated the chorus of the song. So, his version just cuts out all the choruses.

Jens Lekman | The Cold Swedish Winter (Live)

Jens Lekman | Shirin (Live)

Jens Lekman | You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon cover) (Live) (Cut)


Peter said...

Interesting interesting, I'm still very jealous but glad to see that it was still entertaining. By the way, those MP3 rips are top notch!

Peter said...

Funny story with the city planning of Boston too. When going down to see PB&J at Avalon in September, my dad took a wrong turn and we ended up in Cambridge. When I got picked up they mentioned how they spent 20 minutes looking for their car around 3 blocks when it was right next to the cafe they were sitting at.

jds said...

you are just ASKING for a response, aren't you? You don't want K and I on your ass.

Flatlander said...

Yeh. There's a bit of baiting in there. However, I doubt you guys think the roads of Boston exhibit any forethought to what the city would be beyond a colonial port town.

Skot said...

Great wrap-up. I went to the Chicago show last night and it sounds like it was nearly identical to the Boston show.

As Jens finished the set, he mentioned that he'd (I'm paraphrasing here) "like to play some extra songs, so if anyone has any suggestions as to where, please let me know". It turns out that a couple hours later Jens led a small crowd of about 30 people to a nearby apartment to play a 5 song set on a borrowed acoustic guitar.

Pitchfork was at the show filming, and I think they might have headed over to the living room performance. Someone there had a video camera, so keep your eyes peeled on youtube this week.

chad said...

I, too, was at the Chicago show. Jens was great again.

The crowd, on the other hand, could not have been more stiff. It was a tired collection of scenesters who thought they were supposed to be there and motionless hipsters who couldn't express joy even if someone were to teach them how to grow a better moustache and then gave them a fixed gear bike. I honestly think people would have been happier if there had been seats. This more than anything affected my enjoyment of the show. Jens and his band were dancing and moving, but the crowd was cross-armed and dull.

I see your point about staged vs. looser sets. But it is hard to do a lot of concerts with enthusiasm and having a "show" makes it easier for the performer. That's a reason - maybe not a good one, but a reason. (my buddy eddie argos has several staged sets that art brut go through to try to keep it a bit fresh.)

My god can Jens sing.