Wednesday, April 29, 2009
After many listens to Living Thing, I was rather excited to see Peter Bjorn & John live once again. There was all this criticism, how their many performances at SXSW were universally panned due to technical glitches and a rather apathetic appearance from the Swedish trio. I still went in to the Paradise with my head on my shoulders and no opinion formulated; like when I heard for years about how Yo La Tengo's live performances were a total crapshoot between deafeningly awesome just god awful, I was going in as a fan and someone who's already seen them enough who just wants to see how these interestingly put together new songs can be performed in a live setting.
We discussed it at the office this morning and I had made up my mind: they pulled it off. I will admit at first I was nervous; the awkwardly arranged first half of the set opened with the quiet and nimble "Just The Past" into the ultimately brooding when performed live "Start to Melt", followed by "Beats Me Everytime", a song Peter introduced as on oldie that no one knew. When he used the term oldie they probably thought 1960s; it came out this decade.
But then things picked up a bit. The mid-section was chock full of Thing's tunes: the title track was executed perfectly with Bjorn's deadpan expression delivering the line "it's a living thing" as Peter, dressed in a suit that even made him look like Paul Simon, noodled away on his guitar. "Lay It Down" was different in that the key was slightly different, but a fun bouncy number the crowd seemed to enjoy. Bjorn even continued dancing doing the robot and mimicking handclaps during "It Don't Move Me".
After the set ended with the 1-2 punch of "Young Folks" and "Objects of My Affection" from the stellar Writer's Block, the encore was where it had to be. Not for the heavier rendition of new single "Nothing to Worry About" but for the 14 minute (I am not kidding) rendition of "Up Against The Wall". Peter and Bjorn careened across the stage, almost dropping instruments and their own bodies on myself many a time, while John wailed away on the drums where he stood - not sat - all night. Oh and Peter was wearing shorts during the encore with dress shoes and argyle socks - what a European. Well done, boys.
This clip is from what some called a disastrous headlining set at Emo's during SXSW. This is their cover of the Weepies "Fa Ci La". I wish they would have played it last night. Oh well!
Just The Past / Start To Melt / Beats Me Everytime / Chills / Lay It Down / It Don't Move Me / Living Thing / Let's Call It Off / Young Folks / Objects of My Affection // Stay This Way / Nothing To Worry About / Up Against The Wall