Lenka - Bush Hall London

After a successful acting and music career back home Australian singer Lenka relocated to LA in 2007 to try her luck Stateside.
Things seemed to work out well as she was able to release her self titled solo album in September 2008.
I discovered Lenka towards the end of last year, stumbling across her My Space profile after browsing someone like Sara Bareilles or Rachael Yamagata's page due to them all gigging at LA's Hotel Cafe at one time or another.
I picked up her album on import and kept an eye on where she was playing, on the off chance she'd make it to the UK.
I was hoping to catch a set from Lenka during my SXSW trip in March as she was performing a few sets in Austin but there was always a clash with someone else.
I eventually managed to watch the tail end of her Hotel Cafe showcase due to things overrunning (luckily for me) but I only caught the last couple of songs, leaving me vowing to watch a full Lenka set in the near future!
All good things come to those that wait so and eventually I was rewarded with a show at London's Bush Hall.
The venue was pretty busy for Lenka's UK debut but I managed to get a place near the front, in the hope of getting some decent pictures from the spot that I'd probably have to occupy all night due to the absence of a photo pit in the venue.
I wasn't really in the mood for a support act so I didn't pay too much attention to Little Lost David's performance at the beginning.
Little Lost David is the name David J Roch goes under when performing and he was joined onstage by a drummer for the set's duration and a trumpet player who kept popping up every so often.
He probably wont appreciate me saying this but his output came over as a cross between Keane and Damien Rice, so at least he'll have a platinum album to look forward to sometime in 2011!
I was warming to the performance as it went on, with the final track really winning me over, a song about making peace with the Devil, with some great Morricone style trumpet playing towards the end, helping to finish the set in style.

Lenka had given the stage a makeover for her Bush Hall performance, with a home made "Lenka" backdrop and animal cut outs stuck to the front of stage keyboards adding a bit of sparkle to the occasion.
Opening with "Trouble is a friend" it was obvious from the off that although this was Lenka's UK debut she was generally preaching to the converted as the majority of the audience around me were happily singing along to the album track, an album that doesn't hit UK stores till the end of the month.
The Australian songstress welcomed the crowd with a "G'day London!' setting the tone for the evening as she came across as an extremely likable character throughout the set.
Lenka's performance was predominately pulled from her debut, including "Skip along", her favourite track on the album, "Bring me down", one of the many break up songs on offer and "Live like you're dying", a song that had Lenka wishing smoking indoors was still allowed as it was a real "Lighters in the air" moment!
This is probably a terrible comparison (Two in one review!) but throughout her set I was slightly reminded of Lily Allen as both Lenka and Lily deliver tales of break ups and failed romances in an upbeat Poppy style.
Lenka produced one of the best moments of the night when she offered up an acapella version of "Like a song" backed by the drone of World War 2 radio waves.
Naturally there's always a few idiots happy to chat away during such a glorious rendition but luckily the audience quickly shut them up with few marked "SSSSHHHH's in their direction!
After the calmness of "Like a song" things moved up a gear with the appearance of current single "The show".
I've noticed the video for the single appear on numerous channels and I'm sure it's received a lot of radio airplay so I imagine almost everyone in Bush Hall had heard the song previously.
We all seemed to make enough of a racket during its "I want my money back" refrain anyway, especially as we had been requested to join in like a drunken Tavern choir.
We were rewarded with new song "Pull me apart", coming across as a BIG track with some excellent sleazy trumpet playing from Lenka's band member, making it one of the highlights of the night.
Lenka seemed to be enjoying her UK debut anyway as she told us we were like a wet dream of a crowd and wanted to take us all home in her suitcase!
The set proper wound up with the final two album tracks, "Dangerous", complete with Lenka on trumpet and "Grow old", Lenka's regular set closer and the last song on the album.
The audience seemed to love the performance and it wasn't long before Lenka and her gang were back on stage, encoring with album bonus track "Force of nature" and her final break up song of the evening "Wrote me out" a newly polished track that didn't quite make the album.
I was actually expecting a reprise of her future hit single before we all headed home but I certainly wasn't disappointed in its omission as the show ended on a good note anyway.
It was great to finally catch a full Lenka set, especially up close in a fairly intimate venue as I'm sure next time round it will be the slightly larger Scala or even Koko as the future success of "The show" will guarantee her a much bigger audience.

Category Gig Review

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