All photos by Chris Leaman. Click on one photo to see the next.
Jenny Lewis packed the house. . .er, temple last night at the Sixth & I Synagogue. The opening acts included Michael Runion and the Royal Family, a 1950s-inspired rock group whose lead singer channeled Johnny Depp in Cry Baby, and Charlotte-based mountain man Benji Hughes, a crowd pleaser whose guttural singing brought to mind The National’s Matt Berninger caught in a long, melodic belch—but in a good way.
Lewis and her five-member band took the stage around 10, quieting the crowd with a breathtaking processional in which they walked slowly from the back of the sanctuary singing an a cappella number in six-part harmony. Lewis’s crystal-clear vocals hung in the air for a few seconds at the end before the crowd could pull themselves together for a wild round of cheering.
If you’ve never seen Lewis without her main act, Rilo Kiley, a pop-rock band with indie roots, you’ve never seen her truly shine. Performing solo, she brings a full set of country- and gospel-inspired songs—genres in which her powerful vocals excel—with more energy and sparkle than we’ve ever seen in a Rilo Kiley show. For Lewis, it seems this is the shoe that best fits, and as long-standing Rilo Kiley fans, we never thought we’d say that. But her performance last night was at once moving, powerful, and breathtaking, covering us in goose bumps more than once.
Our one regret is that we were out of there by 11, encore and all. In only an hour, Lewis whetted our appetite for so much more.
Were you at last night's show? Leave your own review or thoughts in the comments below!