Jenny Lewis knows how to make a hometown crowd feel their worth. At the end of a towering set that spanned almost two hours this past Saturday night, she did the rare thing that any artist could do at any moment — played that one special deep cut that brings hardcore fans to tears, and draws new ones even further into the fold. Lewis finished out an already spectacular set with “Acid Tongue,” and I watched a couple of friends weep, hearing the standout title track from Lewis’ album of the same name for the first time live.
That closer was just one of a number of special flourishes that Lewis packed into the night, with a setlist that drew from all of her eras, but centered most fully on her last two albums, The Voyager, and this year’s stunning, hard-not-to-call-her-best-work-ever, On The Line. And, as polished as these songs sound on record, seeing her perform them live adds a whole new depth to their sound; this new record is not just studio magic, but sounds as bright and pristine on the stage as it does on tape.
Opening up the show with “Heads Gonna Roll,” the slow-rolling, melancholy opener of her latest record, Lewis showed up onstage in the same sparkling, drop-dead cocktail dress she wore in press photos, immediately elevating the entire performance to another level. It’s just that some dresses hold more power than just aesthetic, and the sheer elegance of the cut and glittering fabric helped contribute to the overall force of the show.
Another highlight of the set was a couple additions of songs Lewis did with The Watson Twins — “The Big Guns” and “Happy” appeared within the first few songs, and “Born Secular” came just before the end of the initial set — pleasing fans of Rabbit Fur Coat, which it might be noted still resonates and sounds completely current even though it came out thirteen years ago.