LIVE REVIEW: Jeffrey Lewis @ Cobalt Studios, Newcastle (25.09.22) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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If narrating a condensed summary of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer over an instrumental of Rush’s Tom Sawyer doesn’t set a precedent for the rest of the show, I’m unsure what will.

The lo-fi icon from New York is the epitome of a cult icon, as 200 ardent fans squeeze into Cobalt studios to hear Jeffrey Lewis wry, whimsical songs.

The affable artist dives through his prolific catalogue, admitting he refuses to play songs that he’s played previously in that city, nor will he play tracks that he played the night before. Despite each setlist having to adhere to such rules, the night was surprisingly full of some of Lewis’ most notable tracks. With favourites Cult Boyfriend and Back When I Was 4 lighting up the room, it was Lewis’ lesser known tracks that superbly silenced the venue, as the crowd hung on each detail of his storytelling. 

From trivial, humble beginnings, each track evolves into something profoundly human. As a cheap joke about a sleepy girlfriend slowly morphs into a rumination on love, distance and connection, Lewis is a master at close examinations of life’s most fleeting moments. While tackling themes of pandemics, presidents and impending wars, the singer signs out with an irony-soaked sigh that captures the universal deflation of the past several years, as he muses “Meh, I guess it could be worse.”

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