The prospect of a Jenny Lewis show only gets more intriguing with time. She has carefully built her body of musical work to be interestingly diverse. By doing this she has eluded monotony and really keeps her sound fresh. With a new album clearly coming down the chute soon she has taken to the road and luckily stopped in Kansas City to check in with some old friends and play some new songs along with a few old.
In tow were The Cactus Blossoms, primarily a duo from Minnesota. This incarnation of the band would fill out as a five piece though with the two mainstays Jack Torrey and Page Burkum leading the band with their synched harmonies and acoustic strums. The backing band featuring a lead electric guitar, bass and drums helped the quiet duo entrance larger audiences while they open for Lewis on the road. The band did carry a few of their own fans to the show too though, most notably two guys both wearing Hawaiian style shirts with different cactus designs on them, this simply could NOT have been an accident.
For The Truman, one of Kansas City’s newest and hippest music venues, the crowd was mostly attentive. The down home country stylings of The Cactus Blossoms were just what the crowd needed as an opener on the night. They came out of the gate with what might have been there best song of the whole set with the Everly Brothers inspired new song presumably called “5 O’Clock in the Morning.” The upbeat “Stoplight Kisses” and the Cali-surf sounding “Change Your Ways or Die” would also be highlights. Slower 50s sounding prom sounding songs would be the meat and potatoes of their set though. “You’re Dreaming” was slow dance worthy in the venue that had the feel of a high school gymnasium anyway and the closing “Powder Blue” was a somber and slow conclusion to the band’s evening.
The Cactus Blossoms at The Truman in Kansas City, MO 7/10/18 setlist:
- 5 O’Clock in the Morning
- You’re Dreaming
- Stoplight Kisses
- Gotta Lotta Love
- Blue as the Ocean, Blue as the Sea
- Change Your Ways Or Die (The Buffalo Song)
- No More Crying the Blues
- Please Don’t Call Me Crazy
- Powder Blue
Jenny Lewis came out from behind the stage silhouetted by the lights behind her, her voice would be heard before she was seen on the night. Sitting on a barstool by the piano in middle of the stage she sang the first of six new songs on this night. When the lights came up the crowd erupted and Lewis was revealed to be unsurprisingly stylishly dressed. She would spend most of the show wandering the stage and working the crowd.
She would heavily hit her first solo record “Rabbit Fur Coat” much to the dismay of absolutely nobody. She would play 5 songs off the now classic record including the triumphant “Rise Up With Fists!!!” and the song with one of her best ever vocal performances, “Happy.” She would stay true to most of these older songs with the exception of “The Big Guns” that was definitely adapted to have more punch with a full band. Lewis was just as comfortable with more pop leaning material like “Just One Of The Guys” and the rocking “See Fernando.”
The show would shine its brightest with the small sampling of Rilo Kiley songs Lewis decided to pull out. “The Moneymaker” and “Silver Lining” had been part of the setlist for the first part of 2018 but the shocker came when for the first time in two years Lewis pulled out “Portions For Foxes.” The anthem was instantly recognized by the crowd who frenzied while singing every word of the tune. “Silver Lining” was especially impactful as Lewis commented afterward “Those were simpler times, don’t you think?”
The newer songs would bring just as big of a smile to her face though, the songs seemed more based around the piano as Lewis played it on a couple new songs herself. The best of the new songs would be called “Wasted Youth” with a tip of the cap to the piano laden “Do See Doh” as well. She would close the main set with a playful reading of her song “She’s Not Me” where she exited the stage like a rock star near the end of the song.
After another new song “Dogwood” opened the encore she would climax the show with a grungy version of “The Next Messiah” with the crowd screaming in response. The band would gather around one mic as Lewis took on “Acid Tongue” solo to close the show. It was a great closer as the crowd was on point for the philosophical tune. It was only hindered by one horribly rude concertgoer who requested “Come back to Omaha” during one of the quietest moments of the song, a totally classless move with the great momentum Lewis had built up. Lewis is a pro and took it in stride though and didn’t let it effect her delivery of the song. She seems to have perfected a great mix of new material while appeasing her old school fans as well. She has grown into a really great performer and her ability to weave her different styles together was terribly impressive.
Jenny Lewis at The Truman in Kansas City, MO 7/10/18 setlist:
- Heads Gonna Roll
- The Big Guns
- You Are What You Love
- Rise Up With Fists!!!
- Melt Your Heart
- Just One of the Guys
- Slippery Slopes
- Head Underwater
- Hollywood Lawn
- Party Clown
- Wasted Youth
- The Moneymaker (Rilo Kiley song)
- Silver Lining (Rilo Kiley song)
- Do See Doh
- Portions For Foxes (Rilo Kiley song)
- Pretty Bird
- See Fernando
- She’s Not Me
- encore break
- The Next Messiah
- Acid Tongue