With dark, diagonal wood-paneling hugging rows of kelly green chairs, the Berklee Performance Center isn't shy about letting you know it was renovated in 1972. The retro atmosphere was spot-on, however, for Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, as they performed songs off Lewis' classic-country inspired album, Rabbit Fur Coat.
Opening the show with "Run Devil Run," the band transformed Lewis' startling hymn with new, bluesy verses and a steady, Motown melody for the chorus. Smooth, smokey-eyed lines like "...the devil came along/ in a long black dress" were winkingly self-referential, as both Lewis and the Watson Twins, (Chandra and Leigh, whom gracefully accompanied Lewis on harmony), stood confident and regal in black gowns, perfecting the stage presence of bandstand past.
Rousing an already enthusiastic crowd with the frenetic "Big Guns," the sparkling "You Are What You Love" followed, and the momentum gently distilled into the smoldering ache of "Melt Your Heart." Almost every song from Lewis' solo debut was performed true to original form, with auditory twists here and there for good measure.
Soon after, Lewis and the twins left the stage while guitarist Jonathan Rice introduced the band - Jason Boesel, (drummer for Rilo Kiley) Michael Runion, (an opener earlier that evening, on bass), along with Dave Scher on keyboards. Soon, the three ladies re-emerged from the draped curtains, decked in sequined mini dresses and cowboy boots, which was only appropriate attire for the new song that followed, "Fernando," an upbeat, wall-of-sound-ish number about the San Fernando valley where Lewis grew up.
"Born Secular" closed the show, with Lewis on lead keyboard, and drummer Boesel sealing the gospel number with a stirring drum solo. The encore included a lone Lewis, performing a still and solemn rendition of "Rabbit Fur Coat" while the band was ushered back in for a new song, the hardtimes-in-dixieland lament, "Acid Tongue." Arms draped over each others shoulders, the members of the group let out world-weary, uplifting harmonies, while the crowd rose for a standing ovation. Five minutes later, they were still giving that ovation - and it couldn't have been more deserved.