The Dome at Tufnell Park, just a minute’s walk away from the underground station seems like the perfect place to see the marvel that is Jeffrey Lewis. For those that don’t know, The Manhattan born singer/songwriter has been making intellectual, political, satirical poems, music and art since 1997, taking a role on the frontlines of the ‘90s ‘Antifolk’ movement, featuring other bands such as ‘The Moldy Peaches’ and ‘Lach’
Jeffrey Lewis walks on stage with the los bolts doing their sound check while the crowd scramble to get their beverages before the show starts in absentia as the main act is practically assembled and the cusp of starting. There’s a distinct buzz and because of the eclectic range of ages present, a calming air in the room.
Out of nowhere he starts playing, on his own as the entire crowd swings toward him. Then song by song the members of Los Bolts appear as they gradually break into songs from the collaborative effort, ‘Manhattan’ (2015). This naturally is interlaced somewhat with Lewis’ previous solo work with songs from his debut album ‘The Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane’ (2001) and ‘A Turn In The Dream-Songs’ (2011) filling the gaps.
Something that is somewhat aloof and individual is the way the Jeffrey Lewis blends his various artistic ventures together in his shows. Most notably, there were three intervals where Lewis (with the help of Los Bolts and a projector onto a very humble sheet) performed a song branching all of his characters from his self produced comic ‘Fuff’, a drawn historical retelling of the liberation of Cuba and finally a music “video” cover of Nirvana’s ‘Sifting’. Now, this might seem a little unusual to someone who has never heard Lewis before but given that Jarvis Cocker called him “The best lyricist working in the US today.” You can imagine that’s he ain’t too bad with words and that.
Some musicians have a distinctly different feel to them when you seem them on stage, be it at a festival or gig or wherever to their studio selves, however Jeffery Lewis perfectly maintains his story telling poetic sarl when on stage with ‘Los Bolts’ excellently harmonising with him. A further pleasure to behold is the enjoyment on all of their faces as they play the songs, in particular during ‘Sad Screaming Old Man’ in which the whole band was seemingly laughing by the end of the song.
With the gig coming to a close after the aforementioned “music video”, Lewis announces to the crowd that they have a couple of minutes left and in showstoppingly charming fashion plays his 2014 single ‘The Single Thing I Like Most About England’ which leaves the crowd feeling understandably elated as he and the Los Bolts wonder off the stage not more than three metres to the merchandise stand to start greeting fans.
Ultimately, if you’ve already seen or heard of Jeffrey Lewis, then you’ve already read too far. If, however you haven’t, and you’re interested in seeing what this counter-counter-counter culture anti-poet laureate is all about, The UK tour sadly finishes this weekend at End of The Road Festival, but Jeffrey Lewis and Los Bolts will be touring Europe until the end of October.
This Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts article was written by Jack Luttman, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo credit : littletrousers.com