Sondre Lerche is charming even when shilling. Monday night’s solo show at Music Hall of Williamsburg was kind of like watching an extended segment of a talk show where the blonde Norwegian relentlessly plugged Dan in Real Life, the romantic comedy he scored. In-between songs from the soundtrack, he told stories of how director Peter Hedges (who was in the house) asked him to do it; how he wrote the song "To Be Surprised" while a scene was being filmed in the next room; how he met the cast of The Office at the Dan in Real Life premiere; how awesome he thought the movie turned out… etc.
It would’ve been kinda nauseating if Lerche wasn’t so genuinely enthusiastic and generally psyched about the whole experience. And if the songs weren’t good. (It was still a bit much.) Remember, the Dan in Real Life soundtrack is his second good album this year — the other being the fantastic, underheard Phantom Punch. The only real downer of the show was that I was under the impression of that he was going to be there with his backing band, The Faces Down. No, this was him solo. Which ended up being totally fine. Lerche is one of those performers, like Billy Bragg, Elvis Costello and Robyn Hitchcock who can hold a big room’s attention with just a guitar, a sparkling personality and some great songs.
He had the mostly-female audience in the palm of his hand, who were singing along often and loudly. It was really cute, especially on "Modern Nature," where they filled in Lillian Samdal’s part of the duet. Lerche played for maybe 90 minutes or so, hitting all his albums plus a cover of Elvis Costello’s "Human Hands" (from the DiRL soundtrack). He also performed an abbreviated, impromptu cover of Scritti Polliti’s "The Word Girl" after some girl screamed out "Scritti Polliti!" for seemingly no reason. (I think it was maybe better than the original which featured some seriously icky ’80s production.) Part of me considered yelling "Orange Juice!" in hopes of a "Consolation Prize" cover. But I didn’t do it. The only time I really wanted the Faces Down to be there was for The Phantom Punch‘s rockin’ title track, yet he still pretty much went to town on his instrument.
It baffles me why he’s not more popular. Anyone who’s seen him live leaves charmed yet Music Hall of Williamsburg was only half-full at best. And at only 25, he’s got plenty of time to gain more fans.
I also shot video of "Modern Nature":