Jenny Lewis @ Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, 27 Jul

Projecting a mixture of fearlessness and vulnerability, Jenny Lewis thrills a Saturday night crowd in the capital

Live Review by Max Sefton | 01 Aug 2019
  • Jenny Lewis

In a sweaty and intimate Queen’s Hall, former child star and Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis twirls in the spotlight. With her hair piled up she looks like Ronnie Spector, decked out in a sparkling silver dress that sends shimmering points of light skipping across the stage. Lewis is in Edinburgh playing tracks from her latest and best solo record On the Line. The tracks are a thrilling mix of Fleetwood Mac, James Ellroy and Dolly Parton, with a cast of thousands and a withering eye cast over the hypocrisies and hedonism of Tinseltown.

On the Line provides the opening tracks of the night with Lewis making a low-key entrance behind a keyboard for Heads Gonna Roll, before a brilliant Wasted Youth sees her seize the microphone centre stage.

To recreate the hazy 70s vibes of the record requires a talented troupe, and Lewis crams a lot of musicians into this little theatre. With a trio of string players complementing her well-drilled road band, both her drummer and guitarist are given moments to shine alongside emotive solos lifting Lewis's rich voice to new planes.

The Queen’s Hall suits the California-based star down to a tee, with clear, crisp sounds and a faded glamour that suits tales of LA’s noirish dark side surprisingly well. Stood on top of a box so that the whole crowd can see the petite Lewis, she projects a mixture of fearlessness and vulnerability, telling her tales of heartbreaking poets, drug use and bad behaviour with a believable authenticity. Even if these stories aren't true to life, they certainly feel that way.

A generous encore showcases every side of the singer, from wide-eyed LA kid to indie rock icon and old country soul. Her lyric 'you thought I was your muse' becomes a withering putdown on the sparse Dogwood, while closer Acid Tongue is delivered with just an acoustic guitar and breathy backing vocals from her band. 

By the time the last chord fades away and the crowd emerge bleary eyed into the streets of Edinburgh, you’re almost surprised to see the Castle rising over the city, not the Hollywood sign.