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Sondre Lerche-Lincoln Hall (Chicago, IL)Sunday, June 19th, 2011

22 June 2011

One might not immediately expect the Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche to have a dynamic stage presence. This reviewer imagined a softer spoken folk singer possessing a demeanor closer to Sweden’s Jens Lekman. Lerche took some of the sweeter Scandinavian elements of Lekman’s ability to charm a crowd to a whole new level. Most of his songs began on a slower note, emphasizing melodies and lyrics. Soon enough, the vast majority of the tracks he played in his 90 minute set evolved in their rock elements, with Lerche rocking out on his guitar and flailing his hair about passionately (with selective smoke and strobes involved at times as well!)

Lerche is young at 28yrs old but has been releasing albums for a decade with six studio albums and the soundtrack to Dan in Real Life. Lerche is currently touring to support his newest eponymous release and brought the songs to life for the audience with the help of openers Nightlands and the very talented Kishi Bashi. (Kishi Bashi was the first opener of the night and managed to play what sounded like a symphony by looping various violin parts to perfection.) In fact, throughout the set, he continually joked with them about how he should treat them better by providing them with an actual setlist. It really did seem like Lerche spontaneously chose many of his songs on the fly (especially older tracks). He also took a couple of requests, which meant that both Nightlands and Kishi Bashi must have been familiar with playing a vast amount of his material. Adding even further to their impressive knowledge was their timing and ability to fill in the songs instrumentally without any sloppiness.

In terms of the setlist, Lerche concentrated most heavily on his newest tracks and began by opening up the evening the same way his new album does with the song “Ricochet.” This song was the first to feature his honest and earnest voice climbing to a gorgeous tenor. “Private Caller,” the second track off the album was also the next consecutive song played in the night. Diverting from this pretty quickly, Lerche did jump around a bit then to play tracks farther in like “Living Dangerously” and “Domino.”

The evening was also not without some older favorites such as “Two Way Monologue” and “Heartbeat Radio.” Phantom Punch which is the title track off Lerche’s fourth full length album from 2007, came off as the catchiest song of the night easily with a rock plus disco feel emanating quite clearly from the stage as Lerche danced about. In contrast, “My Hands Are Shaking” from the Dan in Real Life soundtrack was performed solo and sensitively as the lyrics of the song determined the emotional feeling. Similar to this in tone was the last track Lerche performed on encore, “Modern Nature” going as far back as his debut album Faces Down. This was also the track with the most audience participation as fans sang along in their beautifully devoted voices. Throughout the set, Lerche continued to return to a jocularity with the running joke of winning a Nobel Peace Prize and, while this may not be in fact the reality of the matter, it was clear as the night drew to an end that he had won the hearts of many.