Jens Lekman – review

Heaven, London

Anyone else with a song called Tram #7 to Heaven in their back catalogue would almost certainly have rolled it out for a gig at Heaven. Not Swedish indie-pop singer Jens Lekman, however. His taste in cheesy gestures is too extravagant for such piffling gags: instead it demands that he perform a demented cover version of Ten City's house hit That's the Way Love Is, scratching the original recording into his electronic backing track with the glee of an amateur wedding DJ; after which he zooms around the stage pretending to be an aeroplane, transporting us to a cocktail bar in Majorca for Sipping on the Sweet Nectar, from his 2007 album Night Falls Over Kortedala.

Any moment, you expect him to exhort everyone to do the macarena – and we would, too, because to watch Lekman a decade into his career is to eat out of his hand. He has honed his live show to perfection, creating a set that is a raucous party and a gentle embrace, exuberantly silly and quietly moving. Between songs Lekman isn't just chatty, but properly entertaining, amusing us with self-deprecating tales of stalking Kirsten Dunst in Gothenburg and suffering the same dream for 729 nights straight. Then, before you know it, he is singing the same story – in new songs Waiting for Kirsten and Cowboy Boots – but with a sharpened poetry, a richer sense of melancholy humour.

Paul Simon's influence on his new material is more pronounced than ever, especially in the dense lyrics to An Argument With Myself and the benign uncle pose of The End of the World is Bigger Than Love. But it's hard to imagine Simon playing air glockenspiel to a sample of Chairman of the Board – and therein lies Lekman's singular charm.

At the Band on the Wall, Manchester (0161-834 1786), tonight.


Maddy Costa

The GuardianTramp

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