Lenka with Greg Laswell at Detroit Bar Last Night

Lenka.jpg
Kim Conlan

Lenka with Greg Laswell
April 12, 2011
Detroit Bar, Costa Mesa

Over the past few months, Detroit Bar has hosted superb national touring acts that have packed the parking lot. Tonight the turnout was no different for the Australian soulful pop fireplug, Lenka. Opening for vocally gifted young woman was the San Diego via Long Beach singer/songwriter, Greg Laswell. It's been almost two years since they last shared the lineup at Detroit Bar, and tonight the duo returns again to promote Lenka's new album, Two.

greg-laswell.jpg
Kim Conlan
Greg Laswell fed his charismatic wit and clever storylines to the audience in a warm and honest way. In response, the girls giggled and batted their lashes, unable to deny his charm. Prior to each rich folk tune, Laswell captivated the congregation with entertaining explanations of the lyrics, usually involving romance, heartbreak, or a moment of enlightenment. He crooned each poetic anecdote with such ease and flawless execution that it became difficult to look away from his scruffy face. Laswell played a healthy set, followed by a brief encore, and eventually bade his adoring fans goodnight.

When Lenka hit the stage, every detail of her performance was cute: her bandmates, the decorations, her outfit, her dimples. Her most interesting prop was her bulky synthesizer, attached to a makeshift strap constructed from a hefty bit of duct tape and a canvas belt.

And whether she sang a soft whisper of a melody or a powerfully sustained high note, Lenka hypnotized the listeners as she hit every pitch perfectly. Her performance was undeniably energetic (as in her single "Heart Skips a Beat"), and her vocals were impeccable. But the fact that she sang with a passion radiating from the inside out gave her music a strong emotion that people can genuinely connect with.

Despite her beautifully bashful persona, Lenka radiated an alluring side that was brought out by the presence of a drumbeat, bassline, guitar, and some keys. She combined a perfect balance of seduction, passion, and true talent in her performance, making it difficult to notice anything else.

Lenka showed that she is capable of producing hits and will definitely be around for years to come.  For the finale of her encore, Lenka talked about one of her earliest songs, "The Show." She joked, "We've only played it 5,000 times at the point!" 

The crowd: Fairly full of mellow drinkers and young, intellectual women with a fondness for folk music and quirky female pop melodies.

Overheard by Greg Laswell: "I decided, I'll just lead by example."

Set list:
    Two
    Punches
    Don't Let Me Fall
    Heart Skips
    Trouble
    You Will Be Mine
    Everything At Once
    Everything's Ok
    Here to Stay
    Grow Old

Encore:
    Sad Song
    The Show


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