Saturday, October 18, 2014

Concert Review: Sondre Lerche and TEEN at the Turf Club

Sondre Lerche at the Turf Club, October 17, 2014. (Photo by Pondie N. Taylor.)

TEEN at the Turf Club, October 17, 2014. (Photo by Pondie N. Taylor.)
Last night I finally got to see one of my favorite artists live, as Sondre Lerche played the Turf Club in Saint Paul. I know that Lerche has played the Twin Cities before, but for whatever reason I’ve always missed him. I almost missed him this time too, as it was only because my wife was listening to 89.3 The Current and caught an interview with him that I knew he was in town. My wife came home and said to me, “Guess who we’re going to see in concert tonight?” “I don’t know, who?” “Sondre Lerche!” “Awesome!” If you’re not familiar with Sondre Lerche, he’s a Norwegian-born singer/songwriter who released his first album in 2001, at the age of 19. Lerche has been very prolific since then, as his discography includes 7 studio albums, 1 live album, and 1 movie soundtrack. Lerche has crafted a diverse discography, and my iTunes music library insists that his albums are classified under “jazz” (“Duper Sessions”) “alternative” (“Faces Down” and “Two-Way Monologue”) “country” (“Heartbeat Radio”) “rock” (“Phantom Punch”) “indie rock” (“Please”) and “pop” (“Sondre Lerche”). While that might sound confusing, if you like melodic pop/rock songs with strong hooks, you will probably like Sondre Lerche.

As a live performer, Lerche has a charisma that hooks the audience in. You can tell he loves performing live and enjoys interacting with the audience. He encouraged the audience to sing along on a couple of songs. (Not as cheesy as it sounds, trust me.) He often stares intensely out into the audience with his blue eyes. Lerche is an excellent guitar player, and he performed with just bassist Chris Holm and drummer Dave Heilman. Live, his music was heavier than it is on his records, which surprised me a bit. On his records, Lerche’s songs sometimes seem lighter than air, with his catchy melodies and high tenor voice, and that works very well. But live his songs had more grit in them. One of the highlights of the show was Lerche performing the excellent “My Hands Are Shaking” solo, and he walked away from the microphone, letting us hear his pure voice unamplified. Lerche played a lot of songs from his new album, “Please,” which was released in September. “Please” chronicles a difficult time in Lerche’s life, as he divorced from his wife in 2013. I haven’t listened to “Please” yet, as I didn’t even know Lerche had a new album until yesterday, but the songs were very strong in concert, packing a muscular punch. Personally, I do wish Lerche had sung more songs from “Duper Sessions” and “Phantom Punch,” which are my two favorite albums of his. (I applauded loudly when Lerche asked the audience if people liked “Phantom Punch.”) Lerche is an intense performer, and he leaves it all out there on the stage. He’s also a very nice guy, as my wife and I got to meet him after the show and I got my new copy of “Please” signed. 

The all-female group TEEN opened the show for Lerche, and they also sang backing vocals on several of Lerche’s songs. Three of the four members of TEEN are sisters, lead singer and guitarist Teeny Lieberson, keyboardist Lizzie Lieberson, and drummer Katherine Lieberson. (The only non-Lieberson in the band is bassist Boshra AlSaadi.) TEEN brought a fresh sound and plenty of energy to the stage. Teeny is a very expressive vocalist and on stage performer, and their songs mix melodic pop with heavy guitars. I expect to be hearing more from TEEN in the future. One of the funnier moments of the show was when Teeny asked the audience, “What’s the difference between Saint Paul and Minneapolis?” That’s a question that is far too complex to be answered in a shout to the stage. “Minneapolis thinks it’s really cool, and Saint Paul just doesn’t care!” “In Minneapolis there’s stuff to do after 9 PM!” “Saint Paul is older!” 

Unfortunately, because some people in this world are just jerks, TEEN had much of their equipment stolen at a recent gig in San Francisco. They are raising money to help replace what was stolen, and you can donate to them here:

I’m very happy that I finally was able to see Sondre Lerche in concert. The concert was full of good music and good vibes, and with the combination of Sondre Lerche and TEEN fans got to see two acts who truly enjoy performing live.

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