Real Live Action

Jens Lekman


Richard's on Richards; June 7, 2009

Review By Saelan Twerdy and Curtis Collier

This being Jens Lekman’s first visit to Vancouver (as far as I know, anyway), it was bound to feel like a major event. The Swedish songwriter has built up a devoted fanbase over the last few years, no doubt thanks to his highly boyfriendable personality. Let’s face it: Jens is a heartthrob. He’s handsome in a soft, harmless way. He’s charmingly self-deprecating, and his quirky, intimate songs are loaded with highly personal anecdotes. If you’re a fan, you probably feel like Jens is already your friend. Judging by his performance at Richard’s, he feels the same way, and he’s eager to cultivate the sentiment. He started the evening with a modest plea to the audience to not put any photos or videos of the show on the Internet: “Let’s keep this night to ourselves—because it’s special.” True to his teary, tender-hearted music—frequently bombastic in its declarations of shyness—the night was filled with similar emotional gestures and cute displays of affection for the audience. In “The Opposite of Hallelujah”, he claims that that he can’t communicate and “all his metaphors fall flat,” but he’s clearly a consummate showman. When that song sampled “Give Me Just A Little More Time” by Chairmen of the Board, Jens mimed his need for time by tapping his wrist and then drew a swelling heart in the air as the backing track sang “our love will surely grow.” His voice doesn’t disappoint in the live setting, either: his full, deep croon inspires comparisons to Morrissey and the Magnetic Fields’ Stephen Merritt. Oh, and the costumes! Jens and the other men in the band all sported matching blue chambray shirts with red ascots and red pants, and the two girls were in pink chambray dresses. What else? He had the crowd sing along to the “bum buh bum” heartbeat in “A Sweet Summer’s Night On Hammer Hill” and the “oohs” in “Kanske Ar Jag Kar I Dig”, which he explained means “I Think I’m Maybe In Love With You” in Swedish… “but tonight, I’m crossing out the maybe.” On another tune, the band closed with a sampled-beat disco coda and they all left their instruments to do a choreographed swooping-airplane dance around the stage in figure-eights. So it was fun. It was very sweet. Those of a less sugary disposition would probably call it cloying, but the hardcore fans were charmed beyond belief. Jens promised to stick around and chat afterwards (and maybe even sing a personal song or two), and I don’t doubt that quite a few folks took him up on that.