Nothing says autumn to me like pumpkin spice and soft jazz music. On Sunday, Icelandic-Chinese singer-songwriter Laufey brought cozy tunes to The Fillmore in San Francisco, adding magic to the Bay’s foggy air.
I was lucky to attend the first night of her sold-out, six-month tour featuring her album “Bewitched,” released on Sept. 8. Young crowds of fans donned vintage-style attire, a nod to Laufey’s own chic-classic taste in clothing. As lights faded in to create a halo around the young jazz singer, I felt chills of disbelief and awe. I could only hope the performance would live up to the expectations I’d been building since tickets were released in May.
The singer began the first set of her North American tour with singles and crowd favorites from her previous album “Typical of Me.” However, the true highlight of the performance was a complete showcase of “Bewitched,” featuring selections like “Second Best,” “Nocturne (Interlude)” and “California and Me.”
The soft pain, hopes and dreams of each song tugged at my heartstrings and pulled me into a 1950s Bing Crosby-esque barbershop quartet as she crooned the line, “Let me be a dreamer, let me float … I can see the whole world from my own little cloud… no boy’s gonna kill the dreamer in me.”
Laufey demonstrated her true artistic and instrumental prowess, moving from guitar to piano to cello. I marveled at her quiet confidence and mastery of her genre and instruments, the ultimate inspiration for any classically-trained musician.
For the final song before the encore, Laufey transformed the audience into a choir, teaching each half of the auditorium a different series of notes to bring us all in at the conclusion. The crowd — a sea of couples and hopeless romantics like myself— faithfully repeated every lyric of “Lovesick,” as if her words were an anthem for their lives.
Indie-pop artist Adam Melchor opened the evening with selections from his light-hearted album “Fruitland,” to be released on Oct. 13. Melchor interwove short, humorous anecdotes into impressive musical performances. He recounted writing “JEWEL” for his sister as well as an infamous rooster that plagued the sleep schedule of his co-writer Nicholas Long. In another anecdote, bittersweet reminiscence of his parents’ divorce and an old truck that sat in his driveway inspired one of his streaming hits, “Joyride.”
The concert concluded on a special moment when the planned encore “Letter to My 13 Year Old Self” was spontaneously substituted with a duet between Laufey and Melchor, a tribute to the two-year anniversary of the release of their co-written song, “Love Flew Away.” The tender and whimsical pair smiling into the crowd left the happiest image in the minds of the fans.
Few artists have the ability to reproduce their recordings, much less improve them, during live performances. As luck would have it, Laufey’s voice sounded just “like the movies” (or “Spotify”) on the stage. Swaying to the samba rhythms of “From the Start” and weeping quietly to the sweet words of the first encore, “Magnolia,” I left hopeful at the possibility that maybe some dreams do come true.
Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.