While the country sweltered on its hottest July day ever and Boris blustered his way through his first bulldozing no-deal speech as Prime Minister in Westminster, a little known singer-songwriter by the name of Jenny Lewis brought some much needed sparkle and cheer to these strange times of political division and global warming.
“It’s hot out there huh?” the Nevadan asks the O2 Shepherd’s Bush crowd before making reference to the chaos and deep divisions in both her homeland and the UK, reassuring us: “Regardless of all the shit out there, we’re all OK in here right?” To reinforce the point she urges everyone in the audience to kindly say “hello” to the person next to them.
Flanked by a full five-piece band and a string trio, Lewis, who tonight dons a figure hugging sparkly dress, packs her set with songs from her fantastic fourth album ‘On The Line’ as she swoons and croons her way through tales of heartbreak, loss and bingeing on Red Bull and Hennessy.
Kicking off with the piano plinking ‘Heads Gonna Roll’ and ‘Wasted Youth’, the latter of which addresses her late mother’s opiate addiction, the former child star dishes out harsh lyrics but delivers them so jovially as lush strings help wash away past traumas.
The outstanding ‘Red Bull & Hennessy’, (Lewis’ very own modern day ‘Go Your Own Way’) is even more heartbreaking and powerful live as she cries: I’m wired on Red Bull and Hennessy/ Higher than yooooouuuuu to devastating effect with the aid of stabbing piano licks and a spine tingling Fleetwood Mac-like guitar solo.
Elsewhere, she delves deeper into her past with a stripped-back version of Rilo Kiley’s ‘With Arms Outstretched’, which is considerably more melancholic but also more stunning tonight than her old band’s take on the country punching love song. She also slips in a couple of decent numbers (‘Happy’, ‘Born Secular’) from ‘Rabbit Fur Coat’, her 2006 album with The Watson Twins.
But it’s her current material which burns brightest tonight as she swings a flashing multi-coloured tambourine during ‘Do Si Do’ reminding us that “life is a disco” and we should put on our “day glo”. Later the whole band abandon their instruments and hunch up against a solitary mic, harmonising while she strums along to her heartwarming camp fire anthem ‘Acid Tongue’.
It may not be great out there but in here, life really is a disco.