- Not Love
- Heavy Like Sunday
- On My Mind
- Ghosts In The Attic
- Swing Swing Gently
- When Sharks Attack
- Big Love
- Not The Same Girl
- Used To Be Afraid
- Leave Your Boyfriends Behind
- Don’t Use My Broken Heart
- Charm Attack
R E V I E W S:
4/27 Leona Naess @ The Living Room
(as always, the names and song titles are not all confirmed)
Gus Cypher- vocals
Julia Kent- cello
Felix Fluxom- drums
Sam Dixon- percussion, bass
“How is this performance, this music, different from every other?” That is the question i write down at the top of my page, that i think i should be looking to answer if i review a band or show. And this sure was the show on which to test this approach. Leona has probably played at The Living Room dozens of times. And between other nyc venues, television guesting, and her tours, she has had hundreds of performances. However, of all the shows i’ve heard her live, this was one of the best.
After the previous gig at The Bowery Ballroom, she’s back to the old venue. But i think it will be different. I expect good things. Maybe it’s the spring weather, or it being a Thursday after a looooong week. It’s sunny out and probably the first time since last year to arrive at a venue while it’s still light out.
We arrive late from dinner at Paladar (great food and drinks and cool ambiance). The house is packed. Between the previous show running over and people lining up for Leona’s, there is a mix of people meeting and greeting at the bar and those more anxious and uncomfortable with the lack of personal space. It is warm and crowded with only the sound of air hockey coming from the lounge upstairs. The show is sold out, as i hear from people who hoped for tickets at the door.
They’re running late and we finally get seated. Again, there’s something about having the same bartenders, waitresses, band members. As one person said, “It feels like a completely different crowd.” It was less of the unpretenious-but-noticable celebrity scene, more her friends and fans. Leona shows up wearing a brown, pink and turquoise floral house dress with black flats. I tell you– i dont know if she does it effortlessly or with intention, but she breaks all the rules. She is the Houdini of laws of fashion. No matter the outfit or occassion, she always pulls it off.
They’re taking their places, last minute tuning, she turns to joke with the band members. As she starts the show she seems happy and calm. S he asks how we’re doing, playful and distracted in a good way. They start with one of her “new” regulars (see playlist below). All of the band is into it, tapping along and taking their appropriate roles in the overall sound. Noone is overplaying; the sound is balanced very well. I’d say the most exceptional element of this show was the sound quality– between the sound guy and her talent, there was a fullness and clarity to her voice. There was so much sentiment to each word, a personal touch to the lyrics that perhaps only a song’s writer can have.
The only real negative i have about the show is when they played “Leave Our Boyfriends Behind” (this title still not confirmed). I have heard them play this at least two other times, and tonight it lacked some energy. There was not the usual extra pep on stage, or participation in the audience. Still, she delivered good vocals.
As we noticed when finding seats, a lot of tables were reserved for her friends. I think how it must be such a different level, so exposing to play for your friends– because it’d be different from your day-to-day conversations, or even talking about the songs. When she goes to the piano for part of the set, this is even more true. At the risk of sounding cliche, it tugs at your heart strings. And not in a sad way, or a sexy way, just honest.
And now, onto the songs:
PLAYLIST N BANTER
a one-time indulgence in gossip: did i see a new tattoo?
I Wait For My Prince (This Is Not Love)
Heavy Like Sunday
On My Mind
someone asks what she’s drinking. “Red wine.” (beat) “If you’d like to buy me another, you can.”
Ghosts in the Attic
she goes and sits @ piano
(on piano) Swing Swing Gently
(on piano) When Sharks Attack
she apologizes for all the new songs. Like Dylan, where you want to just hear your old favorites. She continues, (i forget what she was responding to) “that ruins your chances for getting laid tonight… that is so not a good intro to this song.”
(on piano) Out of This Dress
“I dedicate this to Caroline because this is her favorite.”
Not the Same Girl
Used to be Afraid
“Ready to #’&* rock?”
someone takes a picture. she inquires, “Where’s that going?” oh ok, “anything for Rima.”
Leave Our Boyfriends Behind
i could leave the stage and see if you ask for an encore “but i’m too lazy”. A t this point everyone leaves the stage except for Julia who knows the songs from the previous tour
Don’t Use My Broken Heart
“I’m gonna get a laugh. I was reading about Radiohead” (sarcastically) they have this little album… “I don’t play this often. This is my Creep. This is for the people that probably only know this song.”