Sunday, November 16, 2014

Jenny Lewis @ Union transfer - Philadelphia, PA 11/11/14

Although I was late to the scene I eventually became a big fan of Rilo Kiley, and latter Jenny Lewis.  I was crazy excited about the release of 'The Voyager'.  Jenny played Philadelphia for it's release at the XPoNential Festival but I am not a big fan of festivals...even if Ryan Adams is playing there too.

Then they announced that Jenny would play the Union Transfer.

I was lucky enough to get a ticket to this sold out concert as a birthday present!  I figured that this would be like a coming out party for Jenny after the break up of Rilo Kiley.  I decided that I wanted to get there early to get a good spot.  I was surprised at the line that was already there an hour before the opening of the door.

Even more surprised how quickly the line grew behind me.  Doors were opening at 8 and the show was starting at 8:30.  I didn't know if there was going to be an opening act but I was assuming that there would be.  As soon as I got in I went right to the stage.  I managed to get front and center just 2 deep from the stage.  That NEVER happens!!!

The opening act was Waxahatchee.  I didn't know her so I had to do a quick google search. Thank you smart phones.  Waxahatchee is Katie Crutchfield.  The music is folky and moody.  Just the kind of mix I love.

After a few songs Katie's twin sister joined her on stage for the rest of the set.  They played a nice set to a receptive crowd. 

I think that even Katie could tell how excited we were to see Jenny.  You could feel it in the air.  Hell, I think that even Katie was excited.  Katie finished her set and the crew started to set up.  The beautiful thing about my new camera was that I was able to zoom in close enough to get a view of the setlist that was taped to the stage.  It was going to be a great night!

The band took the stage and started to play 'Silver Lining'.  When everyone went wild Jenny took the stage.

Jenny was wearing her suit from the cover of 'The Voyager'.  All the way down to the boots.  Even the stage, backdrop, and even two of her guitars were decorated in the same motif.  It was a surreal mix if Nursery and Care Bare Land.

Jenny sounded incredible.  It's always tough to tell when you are so close but the mix was good.  The beginning of the set was filled with tracks from 'The Voyager'.  For 'Head Underwater' Jenny took to the piano.

I loved how Jenny played to the crowd.  The flowers that adorned the piano she gave to women in the audience.  She mugged.  She posed.  She threw guitar picks.

Along with the new album the beginning of the set was sprinkled with songs from the final Rilo Kiley album.  It took a few songs before she started playing tunes from 'Acid Tongue'  She sandwiched a cover of the Grateful Dead's 'Shakedown Street' with 'Next Messiah' and the haunting 'Pretty Bird'

At this point I was realizing how talented her backing band was.  Every member.  They were killing it.  As a point of frustration, it was difficult to watch the drummer with a button down shirt buttoned up to his throat.  Thank God he finally unbuttoned it.  It was driving me crazy!!!

In the middle of the set they focused on the songs that Jenny did with The Watson Twins.  They did a short three song set that was highlighted with 'You Are What You Love'.  The arrangement was more lush and with guitars.

What I noticed most this show was how happy Jenny looked performing her songs.  She has said in interviews that she suffered with depression after the break up of Rilo Kiley.  Tonight she looks truly happy.  Maybe it was an act.  After all, she was an actress.  If so it fooled me.

After a few more tracks from 'The Voyager' the band started launching these huge balloons into the crowd.  Tons of them.  And then was the moment that everyone was hoping for.  They played 'A Better Son/Daughter'.

The crowd was into it.  The band was into it.  You could tell just how much they meshed as a unit.  It was an intense moment.  The guy in front of me was freaking out.  To be honest, almost everyone was freaking out.

That was it.  The band said thank you and walked off of the stage.  We knew that this would not be it.  They immediately started to set up the stage for the encore.  Jenny and two of her bandmates set up around a microphone and serenaded us with Rilo Kiley's 'With Arms Outstretched'.

The band joined her onstage for a beautiful version of 'Acid Tongue' and then took to their instruments for 'She's Not Me'.  Jenny said her goodbyes and walked of the stage as the band finished the song.

At this point I thought the show would be over.  Surprisingly, Jenny came back out for one more songs.  She commented that you knew this was a first because she had already changed into her jeans.  She was also embarrassed that she was wearing one of her own concert shirts.  She grabbed her guitar and played 'The Voyager'.

It was one of those moments that leave you speechless.  As she finished the song you could see the tears building in her eyes.  It was such an emotional moment.  It was hard to tell if it was sadness, happiness, or a mixture of both.  After the song she said a quick goodbye, covered her eyes, and hurried offstage. 

I stood silent for a moment.  A real and touching moment.  I will never know what was going through her mind at that moment but it spoke to me.

I managed to get a setlist and I headed towards my car.  I thought of staying to try to meet Jenny but for some odd reason I was satisfied.  I was content.  Not too many shows leave me with this feeling.  I still feel this way as I write this.  You truly have to love the power of music.  It never ceases to amaze me.

See you at the next show!


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