There have been many times I have seen an artist I like playing the Ark in Ann Arbor and thought about going to the show but for one reason or another I didn’t make it out. Last Saturday night, Lenka was playing the Ark and I decided it was the perfect night to make the trek out there. With her well-crafted pop songs and strong hooks, Lenka is an artist always worth venturing out for. The Ark is an intimate place where everyone one has a seat and actually stays seated. The setting is actually very similar to a movie theater, where all lights besides the stage are off during the performance. They even serve popcorn. I’m tempted to call it a “PG” rated show because many parents brought their young children and the concert almost had a “matinee” feel to it.
The warm up artist for the show was UK singer/songwriter, Nick Howard. Besides his acoustic guitar, the other thing that Nick brought with him was his terrific British humor. As a British singer/songwriter, I am sure that Ed Sheeran comparisons come up, but Nick’s songs are less pop and more acoustic. Besides his original songs, he did a very playful cover of Britney Spears “...Baby One More Time.” It was a short set that everyone clearly enjoyed as they were laughing and clapping to all of his songs. At one point he even had the audience whistling.
Lenka’s stage was already set up so it didn’t take much time before her band walked on stage and started to play. Lenka opened the show with her latest single “Blue Skies,” which reminds me a little of the sultry kind of pop Lana Del Ray plays. Lenka played a good number of songs from her set from her latest album, “The Bright Side,” including “Unique” and “Free”. The rest of her set included fan favorites like “Heart Skips A Beat” and “Everything At Once.” She also brought Nick Howard back on stage and played a song they wrote together and did a nice cover of Milky Chance’s “Stolen Dance,” which I think only a few people recognized.
Lenka moved around the stage switching from keyboards to her over the shoulder keyboard with her unique grace and humor. She remarked how quiet we were but also one of the most polite audiences she ever played to. She finished her set with “The Show,” her usual closer that gets everybody singing and clapping along. Lenka came back for an encore with a special R&B version of “Blue Skies” that brought more funk and soul to the song. She did it just for fun but it came off really well and showed how great she and her band play together. She ended the night with the title track from “The Bright Side.” As a special treat to her fans Lenka stayed around and signed and took pics with her fans. It was a nice way to end the night at a great venue that I’ll definitely be visiting again.
Text and Pics by Mikel OD Pfeiffer of MPAD Media