Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins' return to Orlan-do o o o!
Wednesday night, September 11th, 2019
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was November 3, 2008, the night before Election Day, and I was politely minding my own business watching the David Letterman Show when Jenny Lewis brought her acid tongue to Late Night! Wow: this was the first time I had ever seen her perform, and I blasted it as she sang a song called “Carpetbaggers” with Elvis Costello. My mind was blown!
I immediately went out and purchased her new release at the time, Acid Tongue, and her previous CD with the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat. Both of these discs just killed me, and I listened to them incessantly. Lyrically and stylistically, so cool. And the beauty, the power, and the sarcasm in Jenny Lewis’ vocal delivery was irresistible; she endeared herself to my heart instantly! I’m also quite partial to her recordings with her former band Rilo Kiley, much of which I'm still learning.
So in 2009, when I'd heard that Jenny and the Watson Twins were going to perform at The Beacham in Orlando, I was beside myself. I managed to get a press pass, and my wife and I had tickets and were ready to go — that is, until we found out we had to change our departure date for our vacation. So, sadly, we missed that show. Equally as sad is the fact that I did not know until too late that Jenny had returned to The Beacham in 2015! I missed that one too!
Well, much to my delight, it was announced a few months ago that Jenny would be returning to the Beacham, with the Watson Twins opening up for her again!
After a little confusion, I managed to get a press pass for last week’s show at the last minute. Whew!
Four hours later my friend Katrina and I arrived at The Beacham. My last time at this venue for a concert was in 1989, when I saw John Prine. I and my friend George were surprised to learn that our friend Tony Brehm was opening the show. When he came offstage, I showed him a portrait I’d drawn of John and asked Tony if he could get John to autograph it. Tony made it happen! That was the night I met John Prine. Wonderful man. Amazing talent!
Anyway, back to 2019!
We were warmly greeted by the staff at the Beacham and were welcomed to stand, or to sit anywhere we could find a seat. The venue has changed tremendously in the past 30 years. It is absolutely stunning.
The show started with a great set by the Watson Twins. They put on a fantastic performance and sounded incredible, but I was excited to see Jenny. I got to chat with the twins after the concert; they are very lovely women.
Jenny Lewis took the stage about 15 or 20 minutes late, which some of the attendees were grumbling about, but I guess millennials don't have a clue as to how long we had to wait for bands to come on stage back in the ‘70s!
Jenny took the stage, which itself had a very cool retro feel, including a heart-shaped riser she could stand up on, or lie down and talk on one of the many clear light-up telephones placed around the stage... suggesting the title of her latest LP release, On the Line. At various stops on the tour, the phone would ring, she would answer, and there would be that night's guest on the other end of the phone. Back in May, in Los Angeles, Jackson Browne joined her on stage her a wonderful version of his tune These Days. Tonight, we would get a call from the Watson Twins!
Sitting behind a small upright piano, painted in a slightly psychedelic fashion reminiscent of a Beatles piano, Jenny started the show off with “Heads Gonna Roll,” the opening track from the new record. She then followed that up with “Wasted Youth,” then took center stage for “The Big Guns.” Jenny was dressed in an amazing neck-to-toe gold lamé dress. She struck amazing poses, preening as if she was the next messiah, or some sorta young Norma Desmond!
A few songs later, Jenny reached back to her 2006 release, Rabbit Fur Coat, to perform a show-stopping extended version of “Happy.” While truly a beautiful song, it is a bit melancholy, yet the whole audience sang happily along. A young lady standing behind us, on realizing what song was being played, shrieked with delight, which amused the whole audience. Lewis continued with five or six songs from the past two albums, including the recent hit “Red Bull and Hennessy.”
Our lady then played one of my favorite songs of hers, “See Fernando”! The band rocked the hell out of the song. At the end of the tune, at the final notes of “seeee Fernan-doooo,” she kept giggling, stepping up to the mic three times giggling, then she belted out “seeee ORLAND-OOOOOOO!” What a riot!
At the end of the set, after being dragged off the stage by a large bunny, Jenny returned for encores, including “Rise Up” and two songs with the Watson Twins, ‘Charging Sky” and “Met Him on a Sunday,” to an uproarious crowd.
The lengthy show was well worth a 10-year wait. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins put on a tight, fun show; they are all consummate performers. The venue was amazing, and music filled the air once again! I think John Prine would love her, if he's not already hip to her.
Here is a little tidbit that I learned over the past couple of years. From the moment I saw pictures of Jenny Lewis, she looked somehow familiar to me. It turns out she was a child actress, starring in 1986 as Rebecca "Becky" McGibbon on Lucille Ball's final television series, Life with Lucy. Many in the crowd tonight’s Jenny Lewis concert weren't even born then!
Thank you very much to The Beacham, the Watson Twins, and, of course, Jenny Lewis and her staff for all of their hospitality!
By Java John Goldacker 9/19/19
Please Join me on The FlipSide every Monday right here on WFIT from 7 to 10 p.m.