It was a night of gift giving at the Hollywood Palladium as valley royalty Jenny Lewis turned up to close out her winter tour in support of her latest solo effort Joy’all. A Santa Claus periodically appeared on stage and gave gifts to the crowd, but it was Lewis who brought the greatest gift of all — her singing voice and relatable tunes that have made her a darling of indie rock for going on two decades.
The night started with a Christmas tune as Lewis — looking like a bad ass as usual — and opening act Logan Ledger teamed up on a cover of Tex Logan’s “Christmas Time’s A-Coming” before Jenny turned her attention to one of her lead singles from her most recent record. “Psychos” was a favorite of mine when she started playing it during her pandemic Instagram Live concerts called “Club 836”. Lewis showed up for her fans during that time when we were left to our own devices with regular shows from her abode either on a guitar or behind a piano. As great as it was then, “Psychos” sounded even better with a full backing band and backup vocals.
A majority of Friday night’s show was songs from Joy’all, as well as 2019’s excellent On the Line, another album whose life was cut short by a pandemic that ended touring for all musicians for several years. That album also represented the last time Jenny Lewis played LA proper, a show at the very same Hollywood Palladium.
“Heads Gonna Roll” was the On the Line lead single and it was received with much fanfare, along with “Wasted Youth”. Another Joy’all staple “Cherry Baby” came and it was somewhere during this time that Jenny remarked how a friend noted how horny all of these new songs sounded, and they weren’t wrong.
Longtime Jenny Lewis fans got one Rilo Kiley throwback in the form of the beautiful “I Never”, one of the most vulnerable and revealing songs that indie rock has ever produced. As part of a Jenny Lewis set, the song took on a more lounge singing type of vibe than the original Rilo Kiley recording, perhaps an homage to Lewis’ upbringing being raised by parents who made their living in the Las Vegas lounge scene.
Jenny Lewis has now been a solo artist longer than she was a member of Rilo Kiley. She’s carved out an excellent career and remains a favorite of so many aspiring singer and songwriters. Just by looking at her band, you can see she’s taken this role of mentor very seriously as she employs a kick-ass all female band and has in the past been the proving grounds for a number of excellent up-and-comers from the likes of Danielle Haim and Natalie Prass.
The encore consisted of recent cut “Love Feel” leading into one of her big solo hits “Just One of the Guys”, which prompted a singalong. Then it was a familiar sight as Jenny had nothing but an acoustic guitar and an excellent group of backup singers for the set-closing “Acid Tongue”.
Jenny Lewis has a thing for Christmas, I can conclude while I drink from a Jenny Lewis “It’s almost Christmas” mug that I got for Christmas several holiday seasons ago. And what better way to close out the year than a hometown show? If that’s the last concert many of us see in 2023, it was a great one to end on
Words by Mark Ortega
Photos by Tim Aarons