Live Review: Jens Lekman, Brous

2 October 2012 | 9:15 am | Andy Hazel

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A venue built like a small aircraft hanger in inner Berlin, is full of neatly dressed people who could be from an expensive ad for black-framed glasses. It's a bizarre place to see the most Melburnian concert happening in the world tonight (well, north of Preston anyway), bizarre for the familiarity.

Helped out tonight by Aaron Choulai, Sophia Brous is a woman who never shies away from complex lyrical subjects and musical arrangements. “I'm Brous [Bruce] from Melbourne, Australia,” she says to some Ocker shouts of recognition from the back of the large, but solidly packed, room before launching into a stellar set. Her strident and faultless vocal style never seems too perfect and against the black backdrop, hazy lights and occasional German conversations between songs, we could be in Cabaret. “You would know lots of people from Melbourne right?” Brous asks us. “'Cause everyone from Melbourne moves to Berlin.” We laugh at the sad truth as the atmosphere takes a shift to the chilly side for the crystalline brilliance of Hyperporian and the rousing, bizarre oddity that is Streamers: a song genuinely like no other that leaves her drained and us amazed.

The crowd responds even more warmly to the gently sinister Silver Chain, and new song Villain, before the surprise of the night, Mick Harvey, joins for a rich and resonant new song Southern Belle, rounding off an amazing show.

Trying to escape a huddle of Australian accents and experience something more 'German', the nearest group promptly begin talking about Penny Farthing. The Melburnians-in-Berlin thing is driven home, even before Jens Lekman is on stage and singing about its streets. It's not long before an electric pianist serenades the four-piece band as they arrive on stage to kick off proceedings with Become Someone Else's. The audience is immediately onside and smiles spread across the front rows as Lekman, wearing an upturned black baseball cap and strumming his three-quarter-sized guitar eases into gear. As the song closes, Lekman begins his first of many story-introductions, this time regaling us with the virtues of marrying for an Australian visa rather than for something as impermanent as love for I Know What Love Isn't.

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Sophia Brous is welcomed back with the description “the greatest singer in the southern hemisphere” to join him for Erica America. With the audience well and truly alongside, the affecting ballad builds and segues into radio hit The Opposite Of Hallelujah, which sees the first dancing of the night. Ending with possibly the smallest confetti explosion ever, the crowd nearly drowns out the long introduction to his hilarious song about failing to stalk Kirsten Dunst, Waiting for Kirsten. Black Cab, I Want A Pair Of Cowboy Boots, Maple Leaves and a song about surviving Melbourne summers, The World Moves On, takes us into the encore and his biggest hit An Argument With Myself. Ambassadors are rarely this honest and loved and, on the other side of the world, being reminded of Melbourne by a man like Jens Lekman is a rare and wonderful thing.