In concert: She & Him at 9:30 Club
By Chris Klimek
She & Him is the nostalgia-diving duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. Deschanel, she of the ginormous blue eyes and long, dark hair, was first introduced to us an actress; Ward’s got his own long-established career as a revered Merge Records singer/songwriter. But in this partnership, it’s She who writes and sings the songs, while Him -- er, he -- produces the albums, plays a sometimes-ghostly, sometimes-antsy tremolo-drenched guitar and . . . brings the sex appeal? That can’t be right.
And yet, Ward was the one who drew the greater (or shriller) share of crowd-love at the 9:30 Club last night, the shrieks a-shrieking whenever he sidled up to lend his broken mewl to Deschanel’s wide-open, unironic warble. He had more presence as a foil than when he’d headlined the 9:30 on his own last year.
But then, Deschanel has always flattered her male co-stars. Her most recent film role of note was as the obscure object of poor Joseph Gordon-Levitt's desire in “500 Days of Summer” -- a phrase that at a sold-all-the-way-out, upper-arm sticking-to-your-neighbor’s 9:30 felt more like a Biblical curse than the title of an indie rom-com. Mercifully, the stuff coming from the stage was light as the breeze.
Deschanel’s songs – lovesick but never despondent -- pleasantly evoke the Brill Building pop and Bakersfield country of the JFK era, and she sings them with a relaxed authority that recalls Dusty Springfield and the young Loretta Lynn. The 80-minute set found room for Ward’s “Magic Trick” and a handful of covers, both of which sounded of a lemon-teasy piece with her own tunes.
A three-piece band and two harmony singers supported the stars, but the show’s best segment was when they ditched their backup. After the midnight-blue torch song “Brand New Shoes,” they gave us what Deschanel said was their first-ever public crack at the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” It would, actually. It was.
July 8, 2010; 12:05 PM ET
Categories: In concert | Tags: M. Ward, She & Him, Zooey Deschanel
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