|09-13-2007, 11:32 PM||#1|
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Review: Peter Bjorn and John Love Boston’s 'Young Folks,' September 7, 2007*
By Kimberly Egolf, Editor
Peter Bjorn and John are back in the United States for their second tour this year, and they want you to whistle along with them.
In late 2006, three Swedish men under the clever moniker Peter Bjorn and John took US radio stations by storm with that song… you know, that whimsical little song with the bongo drums and the whistling. “Young Folks” is the big single that catches you, but, as Boston concert-goers quickly discovered last Friday, there is much, much more to the trio.
The crowd of hipsters sporting skinny jeans slung low on their hips, hair frizzled with unwash, grew excited as the lights dimmed and the strange drone of a sitar began to echo from the omnipresent speakers. Smiles of recognition dawned on their faces as they picked out the melody of “Young Folks” cleverly transformed into a raga by Mr. Peter Morén himself – clearly a talented sitar player.
In the dim blue light, the figures of Peter Morén, Bjorn Yttling, and John Ericksson could be made out as they moved to their instruments. And as the eastern strains of sitar faded from our ears, the band kicked into the retro sound of western ‘60s surf. Belying their recent reputation (based on popular single “Young Folks”) as mellow songsters, the band opened by channeling the ghosts of ‘60s pop music. Leading off the evening with anti-relationship anthem “Let’s Call It Off,” the band proved to have eerily Beatles-like harmonizing abilities while playing music more at home on American Bandstand than on college radio.
Peter Bjorn and John in Boston. (Photo credit: Kimberly Egolf)
After a few more Top 40-esque hits, the venue was abruptly plunged into darkness. As ghostly synthesizer noises swirled around the room, a backdrop curtain of stars threw the band members into faint relief. An insistent drumbeat began, over which John’s echoing voice sang the heartbreaking strains of the ballad “Start to Melt.” A single spotlight illuminated the drummer and singer as his bandmates turned to face him. It was a gesture of solidarity showing the band members’ support for each other as they shared singing duties. Indeed, their popular third album Writer’s Block showcases singing and songwriting from all three members of the band – something they have shied away from on their previous two albums, the self-titled Peter Bjorn and John (2002) and Falling Out (2004).
The trio continued their intimate pow-wow even as the song climaxed with a sprawling jam. Eventually, the slow and resounding drumbeat of this melting dreamscape morphed into the supercharged and haunting soundscape of “The Chills.” The only songwriting collaboration between all three band members, the song belied its upbeat tempo with desolate lyrics of fear and loss.
The heavy atmosphere created by these songs was quickly dispersed by the whimsical ditty “Amsterdam” which featured a shaker and some entertaining dancing courtesy of Peter.
The shaker, wielded by the singer like some sort of sonic weapon, appeared again as the band swept into their hit single “Young Folks.” Amidst rousing cheers from the audience, Peter began the distinctive whistling that has made the song popular. Though doing double duty singing both parts of the duet on the verses, the singer graciously let the eager audience sing the chorus for him as he jumped around the stage with glee.
The band leaped from one high to another as “Young Folks” was followed by the punk-rocking song “Teen Love” from the band’s sophomore album Falling Out. The high energy performance riled the crowd and only made the groans of disappointment deeper when Peter announced that the next song would be their last.
Their latest album is titled Writer’s Block but is filled with introspective and perceptive lyrics, none of which provide more evidence of these gentlemen not having any sort of blockage than the closing song of the main set. “This is a song about me!” declared Peter with a grin, “but you can pretend it’s about you.” And with smiles adorning their shining faces, the band launched into the driving and life-affirming “Objects of My Affection.”
And the question is, was I more alive then than I am now?
I happily have to disagree.
I laugh more often now, I cry more often now,
I am more me.
With their pounding drums and guitar and their hopeful lyrics, Peter Bjorn and John struck just the right note to end the evening. As they left the stage after a two-song encore, Peter began to blow affectionate kisses toward the audience that had whistled and cheered all evening. The love is mutual and Boston can’t wait to whistle along again.
Peter Bjorn and John are currently on tour in the United States. To find out tour dates and more, please visit the band’s official website at http://www.peterbjornandjohn.com/.
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