Jenny Lewis at the Commodore Ballroom, 5/20/19
Jenny Lewis brought new tracks from her fourth solo record On the Line to Vancouver this past Victoria Day evening. Fans were pretty excited for her first visit since supporting Wilco at the Orpheum nearly three years ago.
This record marks a watershed moment for Lewis who recorded the album with a who’s who of rock icons. Jim Keltner and Ringo Starr both feature on drums, Beck on guitar and Don Was on Bass.
Lewis began the evening solo behind a centre-stage piano for the melodic “Heads Gonna Roll.” It was hardly surprising when she quickly stepped out from behind the piano to work the crowd. She’s been in show business most of her life, cutting her teeth in front of the camera in 80s TV classics Mr Belvedere, Baywatch and more.
Her six-piece ensemble was tight, but not quite the superstar lineup found on the record. The first six tracks didn’t exactly have the Commodore bouncing like it did in the old days. Not the liveliest start for a sleepy holiday Monday night.
Jenny Lewis is a tough one to categorize and the set certainly confirmed this as it bounced from soulful to melancholy to poppy to funky grooves. The 2014 track, “She’s Not Me” ironically was when the band started to really groove. The dark track references a tough breakup and was played with some real punch.
“Just One of the Guys” from album Voyager was a highlight and the crowd was finally engaged with the release of a couple dozen oversized balloons toward the end of the set.
The band is playing mostly the same set throughout the tour. While the set did not bring a ton of spontaneity, it did draw nicely from her entire catalogue, and the beloved Rilo Kiley, while also showcasing the new record. She ended the night to a chorus from the crowd on the Rilo Kiley classic “With Arms Outstretched.”
Not one to disappoint, the encore featured 2008’s excellent “San Fernando” from Acid Tongue, a cheeky cover of the Travelling Wilbury’s “Handle Me With Care (featuring opener Karl Blau) and the title track from Acid Tongue. Lewis was finally left alone onstage with an acoustic guitar, before being joined once again by her band in a lovely eight-part harmony that was a real demonstration of her range as an artist.