Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins – Shepherds Bush Empire

On a warm and barmy evening in London, a disappointing turn out at Shepherds Bush, witnessed the last European night of Jenny Lewis’ tour.

Walking on stage to Run Devil Run and flanked by the outrageously tall Watson Twins, what first strikes you in her voice. It is amazing live – I was a little bit worried that she may not be able to translate it from the record, but I needn’t have. The harmonies with the Watson Twins are clear and it’s so rare to hear them live like this that at times it can really send shivers down your spine. Her band this evening are also really tight, and its obvious they’ve been touring a lot together with everyone knowing their part to play. The music had a more country twang to it live with a lap steel guitar much more prominent in the mix live than on the record.

As she rattles through the numbers off the Rabbit Fur Coat album there’s little communication with the crowd, very little banter coming from Jenny or the Watson Twins, which is a bit of a disappointment. Though this does improve as the night progresses as Jenny tells some (really dreadful!) jokes and gets some audience participation during Paradise with us clinking our change as percussion. They play three new songs that they’ve been working on and they bode well for the future – slightly funkier than the older material, we have Jenny flirting with a kind of Hammond organ sound with her sense of humour still apparent with the tentatively titled Jack Killed Mom.

One thing that was missing from the set list was Handle With Care which is one of the highlights from the album, but maybe hard to do live without a full compliment of vocalists! Things really begin to kick off though once they’ve come back on for the encore. Everyone seems to relax and the crowd are urged to stand and walk to the front (the venue is all seating this evening, which may have contributed to the odd atmosphere) and it turns into a proper knees up! A couple of gospel and country covers and the crowd are swaying and the atmosphere is electric. It’s just a shame that it’s now the end – perhaps she should start the shows as she ends them and we could have a proper hoedown.

Richard Hughes

Updated: May 16, 2006

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