In 2006 I saw Jens Lekman's first Northwest of England gig at the Kings Arms in Salford and still rate it as one of the best concerts I have ever witnessed.

The fact that I have been equally impressed by the half dozen shows of his I have been privileged to attend since is testament to his unique talent as a songwriter and stunning ability to captivate an audience as a live performer. This latest appearance in Manchester is no exception, the only difference being that the current album he is promoting ('I Know What Love Isn't') is one born of a broken heart as opposed to his earlier more carefree ouput. That said, the songs still sparkle with that certain Lekman je ne sais quoi that lifts them way above your average heartbreak anthems.

After his backing band open the set with the gentle instrumental version of 'Every Little Hair Knows Your Name', Lekman breezes effortlessly into the sublime 'Become Someone Else's' not only one of the highlights of tonight's show but right up there with the best moments of his fine back-catalogue. The way it playfully responds to Tracey Thorn's reference to Jens Lekman in her 'Oh, The Divorces' single from a couple of years back, and includes the wonderful line "Let's never become like that... like a sinking rock, tied to the leg of a person... I'd rather be a flat stone, skipping across the ocean" make it, as a start, pretty hard to beat.

Further strong cuts form 'I Know What Love Isn't', including the title track and 'The End of the World is Bigger Than Love' and the yet to be released 'Golden Key' are next up before the classic 'The Opposite of Hallelujah', which briefly morphs into the Chairmen Of The Board's 'Give Me Just A Little More Time', allowing Lekman to swing his hips a little.

'Waiting for Kirsten', a witty tale about a near encounter with Kirsten Dunst and the brilliant 'Black Cab' rub shoulders with yet more gems from the new album in the shape of 'The World Moves On' and 'I Want a Pair of Cowboy Boots' and there is even time for the simply dreamy 'Maple Leaves'.

The set concludes with 'Sipping on the Sweet Nectar' from previous album, 'Night Falls Over Kortedala', but an encore of 'An Argument With Myself' recalling Lekman's time in Melbourne and the part narrative/part song opus of 'A Postcard to Nina' soon follows. Despite having heard '...Nina' many times before, Lekman still manages to make it sound fresh to great effect. A second encore of the vocal version of 'Every Little Hair Knows Your Name' brings us full cycle.

Take a bow Jens Lekman. You are a star.

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Commenting On: Ruby Lounge, Manchester, 19/92012 - Jens Lekman

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