The Null Device

Jens Lekman at Bush Hall

Last night, I went to see Jens Lekman, the Swedish indie singer-songwriter, at Bush Hall. He was excellent.

There were two supports: the Bill Wells ensemble, and some chap named Richard Swift. The former (who are from Glasgow and have played with Belle & Sebastian) also doubled as Jens' backing band (and did a sterling job of it); in turn, Jens joined them on stage on various instruments during their set. They were quite good, in a jazzy sort of way. The Richard Swift outfit, however, seemed a bit too loud; their sound was distorted and harsh.

imga0031 Shortly before 10, Jens came on with an acoustic guitar, and performed an unplugged acoustic version of Happy Birthday, Dear Friend Lisa, segueing into an unrecorded older song titled Are Birthdays Happy? ("Are birthdays happy, or just a countdown to death?"), before being joined by the band (three women on brass, a drummer, and Bill Wells on piano). He played a few songs familiar to anyone who has his CDs, including good renditions of Black Cab, A Sweet Summer Night On Hammer Hill, You Are The Light By Which I Travel and a version of Maple Leaves with both English and Swedish lyrics, and a few other ones, which may have been newer, older or both; he sang and played bass, guitar and electric thumb piano, playing for about an hour.

Then, when the gig finished and everybody was turfed out of the hall by the management, he materialised behind the merchandise stall with an acoustic guitar and regaled the assembled punters with two songs, I Don't Know If She's Worth 900 Kronor and Tram #7 to Heaven.

This February so far has been a record-breaking month for gigs; in the past 2 weeks, I have seen what could well be three of the best gigs of 2006. Anyway, Jens Lekman is a class act in every sense, and those reading this in Melbourne should consider yourselves lucky to get to see him with Guy Blackman and part of Architecture In Helsinki as a backing band soon.

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