Jens Lekman at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY on May 23, 2022 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, June 19th, 2024  

Jens Lekman

Jens Lekman at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY on May 23, 2022,

May 27, 2022 Photography by Matthew Berlyant
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On a beautiful night in late May, Jens Lekman played one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve seen in recent years, at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY. Perhaps it helped that his tour (like many others, originally slated for 2020) was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and so he was really eager to play or just that he’s always been a naturally charismatic live performer. It also didn’t hurt that the focus of the career-spanning set was his very best material, 2005’s Oh You’re So Silent Jens (a compilation of CD EPs, seven-inches, and tracks used for other compilations) and 2007’s Night Falls Over Kortedala, recently “reissued” in true, individualistic Lekman fashion with him re-recording all of the songs on each release, adding a few flourishes, and renaming them The Cherry Trees are Still in Blossom (from a line in the song “Julie”) and The Linden Trees are Still in Blossom, respectively. Regardless, he started off the night by honoring his friend, comedian and show opener Hari Kondabulu’s request earlier in the evening to play a beautiful version of “Tram #7 to Heaven” from his debut LP, 2004’s recently reissued When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog.

From there, the beginning of the set—consisting of either Lekman solo or joined only by violinist Leslie DiShazor (who played like The Go-Betweens’ late ’80s multi-instrumentalist Amanda Brown on occasion!)—concentrated mostly on new material, but really picked up with the trifecta of “The Opposite of Hallelujah,” “I Saw Her in the Anti-War Demonstration,” and “Black Cab,” the sample-laden original replaced by DiShazor and the strings of the New York youth orchestra Orchestrating Dreams. Wow! Other highlights of the main set included “Maple Leaves” and “You are the Light (By Which I Travel Into This and That).” The encore consisted of three songs, ending with “A Postcard to Nina,” one of his very best, with Lekman even offering to sing requests at the merch table later on. I didn’t take him up on his offer, but was tempted to.

Overall, I think the world could use more of Lekman’s sad but yet somehow joyous spirit, longing, and deep humanity. It’s a tonic for these troubled times in which we live in, where the very real possibilities of WWIII and environmental collapse hang over all of our heads. On an evening in Brooklyn, though, all of that was temporarily forgotten thanks to a performance from a songwriter just as mesmerizing today as when he stepped onto the scene in the early 2000s.

Kondabulu started off the evening performing a 15-20 minute, very funny mini-set filled with jokes about parenting that warmed up the crowd nicely for Lekman.

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