“I hear it’s election day tomorrow. Are you excited? I hope you’re not going to elect Mitt Romney.” said Jens Lekman. This concert was supposed to be my final salvo before election Tuesday consumed me and yet it found me and I’ve rarely cheered louder. I first heard Jens Lekman when I was living in a dive apartment off of Sunset and Vine in Hollywood. A friend gave me a copy of a cover song he did, Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” and I was hooked by the serenity in his voice.
As I became more engaged with his music I noticed that he had a penchant for disco and bossa nova backbeats and though I am not a fan of either genre I found myself loving his music. When I heard he was coming to San Francisco I wanted to make sure I’d be there front and center. His music is like a conversation. He tells it so effortlessly and his concerts are like an episode of Storytellers on VH1 because he so thoroughly explains the stories behind almost each song that you feel like you were there when he starts singing them.
It didn’t feel like I was watching him at the Fillmore I felt like I was watching him at a coffee house. When he broke a string midway through “The End of the World is Bigger Than Love” He took the guitar off, finished the song without it and then grabbed another guitar to tune. When he asked for minute to do that a man from the crowd yelled, “You’re so violent, Jens.” The crowd roared with laughter as did the band. When he turned around he walked up to the mic and said, ‘If I had a penny for every time someone told me that, I’d be making money in a very weird way.” and then started in another song.
He was brilliant, self-deprecating and engaging. He was everything you’d expect and more. He was having fun and you could see it in his face and in the band’s. These were a group of people that enjoyed playing together. They finished their first set and then came back with Taken by Trees, the opening act. He introduced the members then explained how he’s known Victoria Bergsman, a fellow Swede, for a number of years.
He explained how she once gave him a mixtape then he heard this cover a Neil Young song by Nicolette Larsen called “Lotta Love” which has a very distinct late ‘70’s early ‘80’s sound. They then started into it and the duet surprisingly rocked. I say surprisingly because Nicolette Larsen looks like a lost member of the Manson family and it’s not the easiest song to cover. They actually sang it better than the original cover. It was one of the highlights of an amazing night and I can now cross Jens Lekman off my concert bucket list.
It’s always a rewarding experience when you go to a concert and leave with a smile on your face. I was drenched in sweat, as it’s been unseasonably hot lately in the city, yet I wasn’t tired I wanted more and even snagged one of the free apples on the way out. Sadly, though, there was no poster this time. That was the only low point in a night filled with dancing, crowd singing and the enlightened, beautiful music of Mr. Jens Lekman.