Jeffrey Lewis And Los BoltsHarvest Sun @ Leaf 4/4/18
Wednesday night dwindling time round town. Time spent watching jubilant reds run into the street as Liverpool go yet another goal up against Man City, cheers screaming out across town. But in our eyes, excitement and anticipation is elsewhere as we wait for JEFFREY LEWIS. A true independent icon, Lewis has been making music, comic books and growing his extremely loyal, cult fan base for the past 21 years.
Walking upstairs and into the dimly lit bar of Leaf, there’s an air of magic to the whole arena. Turning the corner we see the man himself, sat quietly behind a table, which manifests itself as a visual display of his massive sprawling back catalogue complete with records, comic books, CDs and even signed posters which visualise 100 Fall songs in one picture. Having had a few brief words with him, and with T-shirt, comic book and poster in hand, we fall back into the considerable crowd that finds themselves here tonight undeterred by football or Jarvis Cocker.
Arriving onstage to jubilant adulation from the diverse bunch, he launches straight into The Fall’s Totally Wired. Much like the late Mark E. Smith, Lewis is an outsider visionary who invites you into his own dimension. Played with the same manic brilliance of the Salford bard, it seems a fitting way to the start the show which is both a celebration of music but also of independent culture and thinking.
Offering up numbers new and old, both autobiographical and on occasion completely abstract, Lewis holds the audience in the palm of his hand, with songs flashing between poignant heart-warming moments and visceral punk numbers. Cannibal Monkeys is the perfect example of this. With projector set up, Lewis informs us of his new nature documentary. Complete with his own hand drawn artwork, Lewis and band calmly lead us through the nice activities enjoyed by the primates before throwing us face first into their more bloodthirsty antics complete with noise guitar, primal drum beats and bloodcurdling screams. It’s quite something offering up disturbing and hilarious in equal measures.
Between a Crass cover and his ode to vinyl and its inflation in price, the projector comes out again for A Brief History Of The Soviet Union: Chapter 9 – The Fall Of The Soviet Union. Talking us through the factors which saw the fall of Gorbachev, the song and its accompanying visuals show just what is truly so captivating about Lewis as an artist. It’s his passion for things, stuff, curiosities that accentuate real life charm, whether that be anarcho punk bands, or art or history. His enthusiasm oozes and we’re captivated by his ability to make you laugh and learn and wonder just how the fuck he fits so many words into one sentence.
Having indulged in an expansive setlist covering almost all of the last 21 years, we are saddened to think that the night is nearly at an end – but, just as we think Lewis is about to walk off stage, we’re treated to some witty poetry which sees his band mates come back out. With the audience shouting requests, he says, “And as no one asked for it, here’s an Iron Maiden cover.” In these last few moments we bask in the absolute insane glory of Jeffrey Lewis, a creative quite unlike any other we have seen or probably ever will see. A true one-off, we wander back into the real world trying so hard to readjust.