By Nick Levine
September 20, 2012
The plush, and notably seated surroundings of the Hackney Empire, the location for this evening’s performance, indicate that Jens Lekman has broken out of the indie pop realm and has become part of the wider singer songwriter establishment. For the occasion Lekman is flanked by a four piece band consisting of a bassist, piano player and violinist. All are decked out in matching Persil white sneakers, with Lekman going for the ultra geeky combo of suit and baseball cap.
The set is predominantly made up of songs from the recently released album, I Know What Love Isn’t. Opening with the instrumental version of ‘Every Little Hair Knows Your Name’, the song sets the narrative for the rest of the evening, which will finish by being book ended by the vocal version of the same track.
Between songs Lekman peppers the silence with amusing and dry anecdotes. Prior to performing a new song, he explains how it is about his short career in the jewellery business. The structure of the song harks back to some of Lekman’s earlier material due to the combination of being sample heavy and piano led. This is followed by a segue into ‘The Opposite Of Hallelujah’. This more familiar territory results in cheers from the crowd whilst girls toss their hair approvingly in the stalls. Morphing into a looped sample of the old standard ‘Give Me A Little More Time’, Lekman charmingly starts dancing and throws confetti at the crowd.
During the country-like ‘I Want A Pair Of Cowboy Boots’, the stage lights are solely focused on Lekman. He requests for the house lights to be turned down and the starry lights on the back curtain of the stage to be lit up. This between song patter shows Lekman as being totally in control, and in the Empire’s surroundings make him come across akin to a Las Vegas entertainer. Meanwhile, Nights Fall Over Kortedala highlight ‘A Postcard To Nina’ is extended into a humorous monologue during which the full scenario of Lekman’s charade of being his lesbian friend’s fiancé is played out.
During the encore Lekman apologises for taking a period of five years to complete his latest album and promises that it will not happen again. After acknowledging four girls near the front for dancing he breaks into ‘A Pocketful Of Money’, from one of his earliest EPs. With the live version of the song not featuring the Beat Happening sample the crowd are happy to fill in the gaps and echo the refrain “I’ll be running with my heart on fire. The evening’s performance showed Lekman severing the barrier between performer and audience. It is now up to his faithful followers to evangelize about him to take his songs to an even wider audience.