I don’t know how I made it all the way to 2017 without ever seeing Sondre Lerche perform live. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, as I’ve always tried to find a way to see him perform, but it just never quite worked out. Well that finally changed this Saturday, April 15, when Sondre Lerche brought his tour to New York, where the Norwegian singer now resides (in Brooklyn to be exact).
The show came in support of his new album Pleasure, which he released earlier in March via PLZ. In fact, the show (and US portion of the tour) almost didn’t happen after Sondre’s keyboardist and bassist were denied entry to the country due to visa issues (this will sadly be a trend over the next four years). But Lerche’s drummer David Heilman quickly found two great musicians in Jordan Brooks and Alan Markley to fill in for them with only a few days notice. It was only the third show for this version of the band, but if Lerche hadn’t told us, you wouldn’t had been any the wiser.
Lerche’s new album is a bit more of a pop-minded dance exploration than his earlier stuff, but he found a good balance between it and his older songs, playing some that he hadn’t in some time. Being my first show, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of the crowd, but I was quickly impressed by just how passionate and attentive they were. When Lerche left his microphone during his solo performance of “I’m Always Watching You,” the crowd became dead silent, whispering the words along with him, quiet enough that he was still able to powerfully connect with the entire audience without the microphone. He ended things in particularly memorable fashion, coming down into the crowd to personally dance with the audience, as the band played us out with a funky dance instrumental. It’s not often you see an artist embrace his fans in such a welcoming manner, for such an extended period of time.
It was impressive to see him go from these beautiful songwriting moments to more pop-minded offerings that found a way to still gel very well. It’s not an easy thing to do, but Lerche and his band found a way to make it work. Considering how they were still learning on the fly, a big credit to Brooks and Markley for learning the songs so fast and delivering them with a sharp precision along with Lerche and Heilman.
It was my first time seeing Lerche, but it certainly won’t be the last.
Find the setlist posted below, along with photos from both his set and openers Ice Choir.
Sondre Lerche Setlist:
1. Soft Feelings
4. I Know Something That’s Gonna Break Your Heart
5. No One’s Gonna Come
6. Minor Detail
7. I’m Always Watching You (Solo)
8. Two Way Monologue
9. Violent Game
12. Despite the Night
13. Bad Law
14. Human Hands (Elvis Costello & The Attractions Cover)
15. Sleep On Needles