When Sondre Lerche, Norway’s biggest export since herring, ambled out to the stage there was much pomp and circumstance from the crowd, yet he said nothing. Lerche grabbed an electric Gibson guitar, plugged it in, walked to the microphone and “got the saddest song out of the way before having fun.” What I expected out of Sondre Lerche was not what I got. I expected a Norwegian Elliot Smith, a little somber, a little emo, a little last scene of Good Will Hunting. I would’ve been okay with that. I would’ve walked out of the Independent a little sad bastardy, but I would’ve felt like it was worth my time.
What I got instead was a man who threw away every misconception I had of him. He tossed them aside like yesterday’s news and shocked me into submission. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so much at a show. Even at a Bruce Springsteen show there’s a certain amount of introspection, yet here I was grinning from ear to ear like an idiot the whole time. I found Lerche to be funny, engaging even, charming and supremely talented. He played songs that people requested and even played “Boxing Day” which is kind of like the aforementioned Springsteen playing “The Klansman” live, a song that hasn’t ever been released and yet Lerche played it.
He had great banter with his drummer Dave and though he talked quite a bit it was never to the level of annoyance or overkill. Speaking to a crowd that sang every line of every song he sang Lerche declared that though he’d, “Been living in New York City for seven years if there was anywhere else in the world I could live it’d be San Francisco.”, which drew a tremendous roar from the ardent disciples of Lercheism at the Independent on Thursday. Maybe he tells every city that, maybe he rolls through Des Moines or Lincoln, Nebraska and says he’d live there if he weren’t living in the NYC, but I doubt it. It was such an authentic, genuine affection between audience and artist. It was symbiotic.
You expect things from artists that spend their lives on the road or are big super stars that have a following as big as a major city, but Sondre Lerche isn’t quite a household name, yet. I emphasize yet in that sentence because performers with such talent don’t just come along every day. When we reviewed his new album Bootlegs here we spoke to how strong it was and how we couldn’t understand why he hadn’t, to this point, released a live album. Now I get it. I understand now. Once you’ve been indoctrinated into the religion that is Lercheism you will too.
You see, it’s not that the live albums are bad, they’re brilliant on their own, but they miss those certain elements from the show; the banter, the fun, the smiles from ear to ear and the music. The music that fills the ears with sounds that make the heart race, that make the eyes open wide with glee and the sounds that make you scream out like a televangelist with every song. This was a concert for the ages and I say that without a trace of hyperbole. Sondre Lerche is an audience’s dream, the type of performer that delights, incites and invites. What more could you want out of a Norwegian?