Jenny Lewis’ Heartfelt, Career-Spanning Set Rocks the House of Blues

Led out on stage by flashlight, Jenny Lewis took her place at her piano to start her concert at the House of Blues with “Heads Gonna Roll,” a somber pop song that starts as solemn piano melody and turns into a head-banging rock tune. Her face was illuminated only by a hot pink lamp atop her keyboard, giving her an air of mystery that reminded her audience that she’s indefinable, an artist who defies genre. 

Soon, she was up and dancing atop a circular stand in her sequined mermaid tail dress that showed off her perfect hourglass figure and made her seem like a 7-foot tall diva, despite her actual height of just 5’1”. Aptly, she dove into “Head Underwater,” the underappreciated first track from her 2014 album, The Voyager, all the while grooving and motioning to the crowd, showing off the magenta faux fur at the end of her sleeves. She continued with more songs from the same album, like “She’s Not Me,” “Just One of the Guys,” and the title track, crooning to the audience, “The voyager's in every boy and girl.”

Lewis, whose newest album, On the Line, came out this past March, has transformed herself over and over again throughout her career. From her beginnings as a child actress who became the leader of the indie-pop band Rilo Kiley as a sort of act of teen rebellion, to going more mainstream and collaborating with acts like the Watson Twins (who opened for her on Friday), she’s managed to stay true to herself throughout. Though she’s now rocking a glitzy gown instead of the pastel rainbow suit she wore on the Voyager tour a few years ago, she remains the same soulful, honest performer with the same shock of red hair, and her lyrics – about womanhood, love, drugs, and simple life struggles – are relatable to almost everyone.  

Lewis’ voice throughout the show was strong, almost suspiciously so, especially given her age; she belted out every note to tonal perfection, making me question whether she might be using playback in some parts. But it wasn’t too good to be true, and my belief that she’d never stoop to being anything less than her most authentic self was confirmed when she went into a slower, more indulgent version of “With Arms Outstretched.” The crowd-pleasing sing-along is a favorite among diehard Lewis fans, especially those who’ve been following her since the Rilo Kiley days. After giving the audience the spotlight to sing and clap along to the last chorus, Lewis took a moment to just breathe and stare out at the crowd before finishing the song’s final line, improvising and holding the note to show off the extent of her vocal range.

The remainder of the setlist showed off Lewis’ vast and diverse body of work, from the bouncy Rilo Kiley hit “Silver Lining” to the mournful tone of “Dogwood.” An Instagram user named james.yeung posted a photo after the show, commenting that Lewis had “incredible stage presence, perfect witch mom energy.” Another user described her like a “Romita girl who jumped off the page,” referring to the comic book artist whose female characters look strikingly similar to Lewis.

Visually, musically, aesthetically, even cosmically – it’s clear that Lewis’ performance touched everyone in some way.

 

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