Jens Lekman @ Thekla, Bristol 27.11.12

Since Jens Lekman appeared on the indie-pop scene back in 2004 he’s made minimal waves. Since then, he’s released a couple more low key records, but it’s only been his latest; ‘I Know What Love Isn’t’ that has made more than just a few critics take notice.

Nov 27th, 2012 at Thekla, Bristol / By Andy Price
Jens Lekman But despite a graduation from mild depressant to enjoyable melancholy, the native-Swede far from gives out the vibe that he would be an entertaining live act. Last week, in Bristol, this proved to be 100% wrong.

Who knew Lekman had charm? His modest getup, rarely without a hat, pulled down over his forehead – eyes darting out from underneath occasionally. But whether it’s playing air glockenspiel, bursting a handful of confetti from his pocket onto the crowd during a key change, or taking 5 minutes to relay a story about Kirsten Dunst visiting Gothenburg, only to play the song ‘Waiting for Kirsten’, which retold the story in lyrical form practically word for word, it’s these idiosyncrasies that have formed an entirely endearing persona, and it translates into an incredible on-stage presence.

Standing the tallest amongst a simple backdrop of musicians, Lekman played a solid set of either wandering acoustic love songs, or disco infused… well, love songs. But despite what Lekman lacks in subject matter, he more than makes up in in voice – which is record perfect. And he didn’t disappoint with the setlist – the hour felt short, but he aired out a number of already-classics like ‘I Know What Love Isn’t’ – the title track of his latest record.

Lekman also played ‘Become Someone Else’s’ – you can tell the type of songs these are, and it was incredible that at no point did the set fall flat. A number of songs from the new record are acoustic led, and provide more of a platform for Lekman’s unique voice, a softness, and strange deepness that sits atop of his own subtle-strummed acoustic guitar.

Despite this, during this show he chose to solely showcase his songwriting skills – pulling together delicious piano hooks – as noted in the song above, while also choosing to insert occasional synth-parts, and drum machines. A simple violin was also used to great effect.

You can tell Lekman was rehearsed, you knew the stories had been told before – but it didn’t stop them from being surprisingly witty. His deadpan nature only deepens the emotions behind his detailed, intricate, and tangent-laden love ditties. While the show was a little thin on the ground, perhaps down to a pretty hefty door charge, there was no doubt that the whole crowd left knowing full well that they got their money’s worth.