Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins Celebrate 10th Anniversary of ‘Rabbit Fur Coat’ at NYC’s Beacon Theatre

jennylewisBefore I’d seen Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins perform all of 2006’s Rabbit Fur Coat, I wouldn’t necessarily have considered it a canonical work that merited its own 10th anniversary tour. This wasn’t Rumours or Nevermind or even Garbage’s self-titled (which was recently performed in its entirety to coincide with a 20th anniversary), timeless works that changed the music landscape while serving as signifiers of time and place for entire generations of listeners. And yet, sitting down to watch the show I was immediately struck by what a distinguishing album it was, not just in Lewis’s career and as a platform from being the frontperson of indie-pop darlings Rilo Kiley, and  by how many artists who followed were so clearly indebted to its influence. Which isn’t to say that I wasn’t moved upon its initial release, because I was. As a longtime Rilo Kiley fan I was captivated by how different the sound was; there were glimpses of the soulfulness in ‘I Never’ and ‘Silver Lining,’ but always engulfed within a slick pop production. Here, there is just soul.

Lewis and the Watson Twins began the show at New York City’s Beacon Theatre on February 4th, 2016 offstage by singing the opening acapella track ‘Run Devil Run’ the only way it could be done justice. They walked onstage in trio, holding candles and performing an extended version of the song with a thoroughly hushed audience. Not just an appropriately stunning way to start the night, but an entrance that highlighted how strong Lewis’s voice has become (it didn’t hit a false note the whole night) and how much more of the Watson Twins we all need in our lives.

It’s hard to identify a highlight as it’s just a treasure to hear such a cohesively produced album performed in such an intimate setting, but when Lewis came out and crooned her way through the title track with just vocal and guitar, it was quite a special moment. It was here that I really started to re-evaluate the album and its place within recent music history.

The second half of the show was no less stellar, as more of a standard run through tracks from her other excellent solo albums as well as the aforementioned sonically prescient Rilo Kiley tracks. It wasn’t until here that Lewis first addressed the audience and struck a big grin. A cover of ‘I Met Him on a Sunday’ by The Shirelles provided the trio the chance to stand in trio again to perform the track acapella, another highlight. Lewis played ‘Red Bull and Hennessy,’ a standout new song that sounds like it would fit right at home on her former band’s best release, The Execution of All Things.

Easily one of the best live shows I’ve seen in years if not simply for the fact that it inspired re-evaluation of a beloved artist’s catalog. Selling out two shows at one of New York’s most famed venues was initially surprising, but then sitting amongst a crowd of rapt devotees I realized how cherished Lewis’s music has been for its respective fans.

 

Setlist:

 

Run Devil Run

The Big Guns

Rise Up With Fists!!

Happy

The Charging Sky

Melt Your Heart

You Are What You Love

Rabbit Fur Coat

Handle With Care

Born Secular

It Wasn’t Me

Happy (Reprise)

 

Head Underwater

Silver Lining

Just One of the Guys

See Fernando

I Met Him on a Sunday

The Voyager

Pretty Bird

Red Bull and Hennessy

I Never

She’s Not Me

 

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