Jeffrey Lewis, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 16 December 2015

A strong line-up at the Portland Arms again, first on stage was Emma Kupa; last seen fronting indie-edgy trio Mammoth Penguins she was giving a live debut to solo material, some from the mini-album ‘Home Cinema’. As a six-piece band, the acoustic guitar and banjo lends a country-rock styling to these tales of regret and longing. Emma has a distinctive voice, relaxed and affecting and as in her other band the musical balance allows it to guide the emotion of the song, shown to full effect in ‘Half-Sister’ and the catchy melody of ‘Consequences’.

After that well-received performance six-piece ensemble Model Village played a confident set drawing on their recently released and highly recommended album ‘Healing Centre’, the launch gig reviewed on this site at .

‘Anti-folk’ performer Jeffrey Lewis plays guitar, sings, rants, raps, draws, paints, loops and tells stories and histories. Opening song ‘I Got Lost’ is a simple but heartbreaking acoustic delight, giving way to the political rant of ‘WWPRD’. ‘Support Tours’ is a neat wry summary of the position many bands find themselves in.
There was so much variety in this show; the epic eight minute ‘Back To Manhattan’ then the history of Vietnam narrated by Jeffrey as he leafed through his densely drawn comic book and a stealthy bass line kept it all moving. ‘Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror’ is an intense nightmare train journey with never ending lyric, ‘The Single Thing I Love Most About England’ ( the food!) is an affectionate tribute and ‘Mosquito Mass-Murderist’ is a cautionary tale….
There was a cover of the Wave Pictures song ‘Too Many Questions’ then ‘Scowling Crackhead Ian’ and ‘Sad Screaming Old Man’ were unnerving characters featured on ‘Manhattan’, the latest album release.

And much, much more. Spot-on contributions from bass and drums kept the music sparking off the words through the whole of this memorable show.

(Quoted from a article: Lewis himself does not mind the ‘antifolk’ tag: “I think it’s a cool title. The fact that no one knows what it means, including me, makes it kind of mysterious and more interesting than saying that you’re a singer/songwriter or that you play indie rock..”)


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