The rag-tag New Yorker ditches his comic book sketch pad for a display of assured maturity. Getintothis’ Jamie Bowman paints a picture of an unusual but undeniably brilliant artist at the peak of his powers.
If Jeffrey Lewis did not exist, you suspect the introspective world of indie music would have to invent him.
The geeky demeanour, the scruffy beard and the nerdy art of live comic book writing makes him a pin up boy for the stubbly 30-somethings in this large crowd, longing for a younger Jonathan Richman or a less unhinged Daniel Johnson.
Still before this we get the undeniably pleasant melodic musings of Liverpool’s own Dead Cities, whose Oli and Martin produce some of the finest harmonies this city has seen since John and Mick Head shared a microphone.
Perhaps if there is a criticism, they’re a little too polished, dangerously verging towards Turin Breaks territory at times, but thankfully there is enough grit in this tuneful oyster of a band to stay interested, before the man Jarvis Cocker called “the best lyricist working in the US today” takes to the stage.
Beginning with a serious, but undoubtedly knowing cover of Tom Petty‘s Running Down A Dream, Lewis and his surprisingly tight band of New York slackers, embark on a set of ramshackle but always driven garage pop.
In contrast to previous UK tours, Lewis denies the crowd the chance to witness his trademark cartoon filled sketch books, deciding instead to concentrate on comedic vignettes like No LSD Tonight (sample lyric: ‘I played a show in Chapel Hill / Some dude dressed like a daffodil‘) and songs from his forthcoming new album Come On Board, including a song destine to be a Lewis classic in Cult Boyfriend.
Perhaps this signals a more mature direction from the now 35-year-old New Yorker, who may well be getting board of his reputation as the court jester of the anti-folk scene.
Thankfully an overhead projector appears and we get Lewis’ delightful visual and musical history of “the excitement and chaos” of the French Revolution.
As the rag-tag troubadour strums his impressively be-stickered guitar and sings “the rich were scared for real when they stormed the great Bastille”, it is impossible not to smile at this most unusual but undeniably brilliant musician.
Pictures by Fuel For Fire.