By Anthony Marcusa
Like watching kitten videos online or riding a jet-ski, it is near-impossible not to smile when listening to the music of Lenka. The Aussie-born singer and songwriter relays such excessively positive, abundantly cheery music that the sweetness is irresistible – even more so in person.
The glowing Lenka took to the stage ahead of her scheduled time on Monday night at the Horseshoe Tavern, insistent on playing and entertaining as long as she could. What followed was over an hour of sunny, infectiously charming pop music bookended by two different versions of the same hit song.
As Lenka played through her catalog of favourites, including many off her latest album The Bright Side, she took time to play around with the audience as well. She held dance contest in front of her one of her newer songs, ‘Unique,’ giving away prizes to a deserving young woman. She encouraged the audience the sing along several times during the night the as well, occasionally ribbing a Toronto audience known for being exceptionally still, almost “obnoxiously polite.”
Amid equipment and instruments adorned with colourful handmade crafts, Lenka charmed the small but passionate crowd, playing old favourites like ‘Trouble is a Friend’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Fall.’ Her latest release provided much of the playlist as well, with ‘Go Deeper’ a tune about a suspenseful romantic relationship, and ‘Free,’ a prideful song about, well, being free.
‘The Show,’ perhaps Lenka’s most famous song (and one that was featured in Moneyball), concluded the main set, but it wasn’t soon after that, while a crowd cheered voraciously, Lenka popped her head out the side of the stage beaming.
Before being joined again by her band, she played ‘Like a Song,’ a more haunting track from debut album, one that features just her vocals and a keyboard. ‘Blue Skies,’ another uplifting track, begin the evening, and for part two of the encore, Lenka and the group returned to it – with a catch.
Lenka announced they would play the song again, but this time in one of five styles (she did something similar when she performed her first show in Toronto at the Drake Underground in 2009). The audience was none too interested in a country version (or a Bossanova one save for one dude). R&B won out, and so came the sultrier version of ‘Blue Skies,’ complete with Lenka voicing a male and female part. She admitted after though that her idea of R&B may be stuck in the nineties.
The titular track from her new release capped off the evening. Lenka cheered on her band mates one by one as they left the stage, before Lenka herself took a bow and blew a kiss, exciting stage right.