The Brudenell Social Club has always felt like a place of quiet revolution, and in darkened times, with current affairs in an endless downward spiral, the fight against the gloom is harder than ever.
Step forward Jens Lekman. The Gothenburg-based singer songwriter, known best for creating insistently happy backdrops for his unorthodox, playfully quirky lyrics, touched down in Leeds in March, and not even illness could dampen the affair.
Supporting Lekman were Philadelphia-based Parisian duo The Dove & The Wolf, who opened the night with a little ethereality and a lot of hurt. Their interweaving electric guitar lines and largely homophonic vocal melodies created an air of mysticality – however, the subjects they dealt with were as real as they get, including a track in direct response to the attacks in Paris in November 2015. In singing totally together, they possessed a power and unity that would be felt by all later on.
Once the crowd shuffled forward, spirits began to rise, and anticipation intensified. In fact, they got slightly less than they were hoping for; Lekman arrived onstage husky and apologetic, explaining a bad case of the flu had kept him bed-ridden all day.
He went on to perform a shortened set, which nevertheless was full of bounce and vigour, while his voice was buoyed by a safety net of an entire audience singing along with him. An opening acoustic rendition of fan favourite ‘Black Cab’ was echoed round the entire room by enthusiastic followers – in apparent recognition, Lekman was smiling for the rest of the evening.
Lekman’s world was a safe space, tucked away inside every musical guilty pleasure you’ve ever had – shimmering synths sparkled off the face of the mirror ball, while each cadence was tinged with a grinning familiarity. Most of Lekman’s fans, however, are drawn to him by his inventive use of imagery, crafting poetic hooks out of almost nothing on occasion.
It was of little surprise, then, that even songs from his new album Life Will See You Now, including ‘What’s That Perfume You Wear’ and ‘Evening Prayer’ were recited back in almost perfect unison by the now sympathetic crowd. Lekman was forced to retire from the stage after only 9 songs including another acoustic number, 2004’s ‘You Are The Light’.
It highlights the meaning and positivity that the singer has on his fans that no one was angered or downhearted at the shortened set. On the contrary, the enforced time limit seemed to encourage everyone to sing louder and smile wider – which, in 2017, is what everyone needs a bit more of.
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