I Still Remember, I Will Still Remember

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Jens Lekman at Trinity Church, Leeds

There is an A-Board outside an urban church in the middle of Leeds City centre opposite a barbers shop that charges three times the cost of a ticket for this evening's entertainment for a short back and sides and time passes in fashionable bars waiting for the doors of the church to open.

The A-Board reads: "Tonight Jens Lekman" and tonight can never be as good as one hopes it will be.

Swedish songster Lekman is playing just two headline shows in the UK - one in London and another here at Trinity Church - and while the capital may offer a venue or two this religious venue seems to suit the man who is so unassuming that when he approaches the stage - the alter - that he is mistaken for a guitar technician.

Out of the neon and black night of the middle of Leeds dodging tieless smart suit wearing people enjoying a Liverpool game after work the queue for the Trinity files orderly into the church selecting seats on pews. I'm struck by how long it has been since I went to church - I'm Catholic - and start to wonder if should he play Black Cab would the lines "Oh No, God Damn" be included.

Lekman is a slight fellow and he stumbles to the area in front of the alter as a general mumbling pervades the room. He begins to strum a guitar and soon forms a tune and mumbles drop to silence and in the heart of this plastic City there is an outbreak of honesty.

Jens Lekman, a guitar, later a percussionist and an hour or so of pooled honesty.

Drawing mostly from his recent release Night Falls Over Kortedala Lekman comes over as a thin voiced raconteur picking out stripped down versions of his compositions and detailing them with additions. Postcard To Nina comes with a good few minutes extra storytelling and one half of the audience laugh madly while the other have a hushed reverence and both are appropriate.

Postcard To Nina comes after Lekman has won the crowd - the converted - following his steadily acoustic And I Remember Every Kiss and the meaningfully bitter Black Cab that formulates into a long moment this reviewer will live his whole life without forgetting.

There is a personal significance Black Cab for me - Michael Wood - and suddenly I am struck by how Jens's twee edged tunes are to be taken to heart. The refrain of Black Cab - "You don't know anything/So don't ask me any questions/Just turn the music up/And keep your mouth shut." - sits carved in my heart in a way that only the most honest, truthful stories can be. Into Eternity - which also gets played tonight - swells into my life in similar ways.

It is honest music. It is music not to like but to love.

An overlong version of Sherin risks losing a doe eyed audience but a melee of priceless songs surround it - The Cold Swedish Winter has a brilliant insert about Cliff Richard(s) and I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You breaks every heart - and when Lekman departs his return is demanded.

An encore covers party song A Sweet Summer's Night on Hammer Hill - the clear refrain "I still remember Regulate by Warren G/It was in the summer of 1993/On Hammer Hill" is to die for - and after three songs the Swede takes a richly deserved bow before casting his eye past the pulpit. "I could play the organ for you, most of you won't be able to see me."

And he plays Tram #7 To Heaven and it is beautiful in the way that nothing else in this soulless metropolis can be. The piped sound of an organ drifts away into the night as soon will Lekman and his audience - his devotees - but the experience fills a flickering heart and keeps it warm on the way home.

Written By Michael Wood Thursday, November 29th, 2007

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