Thursday, March 09, 2006

live review: jenny lewis and the watson twins [featuring willy mason]; neumo's, march 8th, 2006

i've really kept it no secret that i'm desperately in love with jenny lewis. needless to say, when i read the dates for her solo tour with the watson twins, i asked for the day of and the day after the concert off. i bought two tickets, and made my girlfriend skip her dance class to join me. she happily obliged, but had no clue that she was in for one of the best shows she's ever seen.

standing in line on an uncharacteristically frigid march evening, i overheard [i.e. "was eavesdropping on"] a conversation between the people behind me, saying that whispertown 2000 wasn't playing tonight. that news was met with disappointment by me, being that i was really interested in seeing them, and possibly buying some whispertown merch [i'm a band button collector, holla]. with that said, the doors were opening a half-hour later, much to our freezing dismay.

after about an hour wait inside, willy mason took the stage with his cousin on what looked like an 8-string ukelele, and a friend of his on what looked like a portable lap-steel with a waist strap. willy mason floated through a set of old-time country-sounding songs, which were good, but didn't really stand out. he sang a song written by his mother, which was pretty cute, as he explained that she just quit her day job to persue a career in music. the highlight of his 45-minute set was his cover of hank williams' "lovesick blues," especially when he hit hank's country yodel spot on. it makes me wish that willy would do the country yodel on his own songs.

after withstanding some annoying complaints from the scenester girls behind me for being too tall, the lights dimmed very low, and four male musicians took the stage. being that i know that johnathan rice, jenny's boyfriend [booooo!], is in her touring band, i knew the main event was about to start. noone else seemed to know, and started groaning at the thought of another opening act. however, in the distance, coming from backstage, you could hear a familiar, beautiful harmony. "run devil run" was being sung as jenny lewis and the beautiful watson twins walked in sync onto the stage, wearing gorgeous black dresses [jenny had one with a neckline draped in sequins]. i had no clue how amazing their voices would sound in person. after the acapella, they went right into "the big guns." jenny's guitar wasn't working at all, but she didn't let that stop her. the performance of one of my favorite songs on rabbit fur coat, despite the minor setback, was spot-on.

the band played all the hits, including "the charging sky" and "rise up with fists!" the real treats, however, were the new songs and the song from jenny's split single with whispertown, "paradise." on the latter song, the watsons clicked little rocks together. it could have sounded shitty, but it sounded wonderful.

i'm not sure how many of my readers are chuch-going folks, but when i was a kid, i grew up in the church. jenny's second new song had the feel of a gospel song, complete with a breakdown at the end that sounded like the music the guys in my church band played when people were catching the holy ghost. it was a wonderful song. it even featured a spoken-word verse from johnathan rice.

after the rousing climax of the new song, all of the band members, with the exception of the lead singer, left the stage. that was the point where jenny proceeded to play a heartbreaking rendition of "rabbit fur coat." i've never been to a show where someone played a song to complete silence. while jenny sang the title track to my favorite album of 2006 so far, i heard someone drop a quarter. that moment gave me goosebumps. after jenny finished "rabbit fur coat," the band members joined her onstage, as they played a very climactic version of "born secular," complete with the band members leaving one by one in this order: jenny, the twins, johnathan, the keyboard player, the bassist, and after a fucking awesome drum solo, the drummer left.

after the prerequisite break, jenny came back onstage alone for the first song of the encore, a sped-up version of "it wasn't me." then, the watson twins came out, and they sang a beautiful acapella cover of "i met him on a sunday." then, the rest of the band came out and played their live staple, their cover of "cold jordan" [correct me if i got that song title wrong]. i must state that when jenny and johnathan shared the mic, resting their heads on each other, it made me slightly jealous. it was a great song, and a very energetic way to end the show, nonetheless. they took a bow, and our heroine left with the seattle crowd in the palm of her hand.

it's safe to say that jenny lewis is my favorite female singer/songwriter, but i had no clue that she was going to be as good as she was [or sound as beautiful] live. the watson twins were spectacular accompaniment, and everyone in the backing band did their job to wonderful results. if you were ever wondering why jenny lewis is as acclaimed as she is, see her live. you won't be disappointed.


Blogger th said...

nice synopsis. I was equally taken by the absolute silence in the audience during jenny's two solo songs. However, I've heard this during one other person's shows in Seattle - and that was elliott smith. I think Jenny would be truly happy to know that her audience adores/respects her to the extent that elliott was!

12:30 AM  
Blogger th said...

oh - and you may appreciate my other thoughts. from my pov at neumo's, i thought johnathan rice's guitar playing was way too harsh, especially his picking tecnique, in the context of most of the music. it also killed me that, even with his already overbearing playing, he asked to have his guitar volume incresed even more by the soundboard guy, making jenny's voice harder to hear! i also didn't like the way he shushed the audience during cold jordan - kinda rude, especially since he had just been encouraging everyone to clap. seems a little full of himself to me, but i could be wrong.

12:35 AM  
Blogger douglas.. said...

i did notice that johnathan was a little heavy-handed on the picking during "happy." i thought it was kinda cool that he was really into the songs, though. was he really into his playing, or wanting to draw attention to himself? who knows? his presence brought that much more enthusiasm into the show, though.

7:02 PM  
Blogger TixGirl said...

She was incredible! Check out my review, with video from the show:

2:27 PM  

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