Concert Review: Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins / Conor Oberst at The State Theatre – Minneapolis, MN – Sept 6, 2016

Published by JB on September 7, 2016

A Jenny Lewis tour de force kicks off in Minneapolis

Ten years is typically a little too soon to kick off an anniversary tour for most albums, but given the unwavering momentum of Jenny Lewis’s solo career that past couple years it seems all too ideal to push her solo album with the Watson Twins back into the forefront.   And an 80% filled State Theatre soaked it up.

Kicking off the brief 10-date tour that spans into Canada, Lewis and her dozen stage friends plowed through a night that was 610_0980charmed further with forgotten lyrics, awkward endings and inebriated openers and stage crasher.   Combined all together it perfectly encapsulated the chaos that comes with most indie tours and the perfect Cali-sun-dripped 70’s pop and rock flourishes that Lewis breezes through with blissful ease.   Pop filled hooks just slide off her, completely void of any needed effort.

The first visual everyone entering the State Theatre had was the bold lettered white t-shirt emblazoned with the charming motto ‘Nice as Fuck‘.  It’s also the namesake for the mercurial new band Lewis created and said later could be called ‘Nice as Friends’ for the kids.   And sure enough, the show’s ending culminates with with the NAF song that fits like a glove into the Jenny Lewis greatest hits package that spans the second half of the show.

The Watson Twins entered and exited the stage a good four times throughout the night, providing an eerie Stephen King Shiningimg_0347like visual when matched up against the hallway backdrop of the infamous Overlook hotel from the Stanley Kubrick classic.   The Watson Twins lived up to that classic part providing perfect backing vocals, synchronized dancing and simply taking some of the stage pressure off Miss Lewis for the visual energy of the show.

Conor Oberst played an opening 45-minutes set with a humorous VH-1 Storytellers quality about it.  His brief anecdotes in between songs were a lesson in verbal stumbling but his music remained intact.   Inebriated throughout the evening (and increasingly so by the night’s encores) he crashed the stage a couple times during the Lewis set – making the audience awkwardly unsure if this was a planned appearance or simply a lonely drunk looking for his girlfriend and too trashed to pass out.

The most anticipated part of the night was….

As intermission came to an end the new familiar backdrop from Lewis’s Voyager album adorned the stage.   Anticipation grew rapidly as everyone (ok, me!!) realized the next hour would be a rollicking run-through of the outstanding Jenny Lewis solo album from 2014.

The most awkward part of the night was….

The end of session 1; as Lewis and Watson Twins came front stage to sing ‘Happy (reprise)’ in acapella.   When the song ended the three ladies stood there in silence staring at the audience awaiting a response.  It took a good five seconds before the crowd realized the song had ended and finally the applause followed.   Odd.

The evening’s highlight was…..

The run-through of songs from Voyager.   As great as the old Jenny Lewis songs still hold up, the best tracks from Voyager remain dominant.   The crowd finally stood and Lewis shined in the glow.   Forgetting a verse during the one of the standout tracks had no ill effects as Lewis sighed, leaned back and stared at the ceiling with a smile and played through.  Near perfection.

What was missing?

Nothing.   Best $35 of the year quite honestly.   The acoustics were near flawless (I thought I heard distortion during the Voyager’s title track at the end) and theatre remains a Minneapolis institution.   The inclusion of random stage friends during the second half of the show were brief, enjoyable and added to the show’s chaotic beauty.


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