BEING THERE: She & Him @ The Mann


Unlikely retro folk duo She & Him worked their Mickey & Sylvia-like magic on an enthusiastic crowd in the sweltering heat on Tuesday night. On paper the union of dark-and-serious artist M. Ward and sunny anime-girl-eyed actress Zooey Deschanel shouldn’t work, but live their talents mesh to create something special. Ward was the grounded half of the duo, dressed to the nines in a sharp grey suit delivering bristling bursts of notes with both his Gibson guitar and gravelly voice. Deschanel provided the wings for the pair with a bouncy energy and a powerful voice that sounds even better live than it does on record. Along with their tight four piece band and two backup singers, She & Him delivered a 25-song set mixing clever covers and their own breezy originals with some surprises. Songs like “I Could’ve Been Your Girl” and “Turn To White,” from the recently released Volume 3, were impressive and warmly received by the crowd. But a lull and too much stage banter during one point in the show led to the inevitable Philly Moment of the night, when an audience member stood up and requested that they “shut up and sing.” The band took the suggestion good-naturedly and responded by launching into a more aggressive than usual take on NRBQ’s “Ridin’ In My Car.” One surprise highlight was a slow, dreamy rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “Stars Fell On Alabama.” Ward and Deschanel were on stage by themselves for this number, with a purple curtain dotted with lights that looked like miles of beautiful night sky hanging behind them. They were obviously not intimidated by the idea of covering a song by Ol’ Blue Eyes, nailing the vocals and making the song their own for a few minutes. Sandwiched between the usual encore numbers “Sunday Girl” and “Sweet Darlin'” was the highlight of the night, a sweaty pure rock ‘n roll cover of Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven.” Deschanel pounded the piano like a woman possessed by the hellfire spirit of Jerry Lee Lewis, playing runs that threatened to strip the keys off. Meanwhile, Ward took his turn in the spotlight on this number, delivering an impressive vocal performance and some blistering guitar work that had couples dancing in the aisles. — PETE TROSHAK