Photo Recap: Jens Lekman and Peter Oren at The Bishop

Word by Seth Johnson
Photos by Doug Fellegy

As giant snowflakes fell outside of the Bishop in Bloomington on Feb. 5, a sold-out, Monday night crowd was treated to phenomenal sets by two outstanding songwriters—one more established and the other on the rise.

A Columbus, Indiana native, Peter Oren kicked off the night with his bellowing, Bill Callahan-esque voice. Managed by the fine folks of Winspear, Oren recently released an excellent album on Western Vinyl titled Anthropocene. Much like Jens Lekman, Oren had a way with telling stories in between songs, giving the audience an intimate glimpse into the small-town Indiana contexts that inspire his songs. From the set, “Falling Water” and “Throw Down” were two Anthropocene selections that particularly grabbed my ears.

After hearing so much about Jens Lekman’s brilliant live performances, I was quite excited to experience one for myself for the first time. As expected, the Swedish songwriter did not disappoint, pulling me in immediately with his irresistible storytelling. Although playing solo, Lekman demanded attention from the audience from the first strum on his guitar, weaving humor in and out of his genuinely stunning set.

To kick things off, Lekman opened with a cover of The Lovin’ Spoonful’s classic “Do You Believe in Magic?” This was followed by “Hotwire the Ferris Wheel,” which gave the audience a first taste of Lekman’s charm simply as a human being. This led into several more songs from Lekman’s 2017 album, Life Will See You Now. After starting off the set with just an acoustic guitar, Lekman unveiled his accompanying backing track setup for “To Know Your Mission,” showing that he could be DJ Jens while also being Songwriter Jens and Storyteller Jens.

For the remainder of his set, Lekman touched on tracks from throughout his catalog, including many selections from much-loved 2007 release Night Falls Over Kortedala. Time and time again, he interacted with the audience in an endearing way, making the show feel more like a private party than a concert. Fittingly enough, his birthday was at midnight following his performance, making for an even grander occasion.

After closing out his first set with Kortedala track “The Opposite of Hallelujah,” Lekman returned to the stage for a four-song encore. This started out with “Maples Leaves” and “I Want a Pair of Cowboy Boots,” before leading into the crowd-selected “The Cold Swedish Winter.” Lekman then closed out the night with the classic “A Postcard to Nina,” before retreating back to his merch booth. There, I met him and wished him happy birthday just after midnight. The guy truly is a gem of a person.

 

Jens Lekman

 

Peter Oren

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