by / March 9th, 2009 /

Live: Peter Bjorn and John, The Button Factory

Following last year’s instrumental Seaside Rock, a record of Caribbean, African and Brazilian world music, Peter Bjorn & John are on the verge of releasing Living Thing, the first album ‘proper’ since the hugely successful Writer’s Block and they are in town to show their faces once again. The band take to a stage adorned with a huge black backdrop (spelling the word “backdrop” funnily enough) to primal electronic drums and ambient synthesizers.

Standing in shadows, the Swedish three-piece launch into new song ‘Just the Past’, a stripped down keyboard offering. Following their second song of the night also another new one, ‘It Don’t Move Me’, Peter Morén announces that will play some old tunes but they will be mostly playing from their new studio album, released later this month. ‘Lay It Down’ is dance friendly with the super catchy chorus ‘Hey, shut the fuck up boy / You’re starting to piss me off’, a future single with some editing for radio. If the tracks from tonight’s show are anything to go by the new record promises to be a very slick pop affair.

The first guitar of the night comes four songs in for ‘It Beats me Every Time’ from Falling Out (their 2005 second album), which gets the biggest audience reaction so far. John the drummer stands as he takes lead vocal on another minimal new tune. Peter gives a theatrical performance to ‘Nothing to Worry About’, the Kanye-endorsed single, which finds a choir of children’s voices on the chorus.

The band are celebrating 10 years in the business and it’s clear that they are evolving their sound, it may not be The Knife , its certainly a new direction. The title track from the forthcoming album Living Thing has an upbeat African calypso meets mod and new wave vibe to it.

As they play some older songs the band return to the more familiar indie guitar sound that much of the audience came to see. Following a practically frantic guitar wig out, the boys cover ‘Fa Cé-La’ by The Feelies, before closing the main set with Writer’s Block opening track Objects of my Affection.

The return is swift, everyone knows they haven’t played that song yet. First on the encore list is ‘Lets Call the Whole Thing Off’, sparsely arranged but true to the album version.

Then the whistling starts.

Taking the place of Victoria Bergsman the band summon their mate Nicolai, a bearded Swedish chef, from the crowd for a loose, broken down, karaoke version of ‘Young Folk’. They may be somewhat tired of playing their biggest hit, but they are still having fun with it and the audience are lapping it up. On a high, the show ends with ‘Up Against the Wall’ which finds Peter climbing the amp stack from where he sings before he (rather feebly) leaps to the stage for a pretty spastic jam out, closing a night of entertaining smooth pop and classic indie rock. On the evidence of tonight’s show, the new album Living Thing favours electronic pop over the indie guitar standards they’ve been accustomed to and it sounds very promising indeed.

Saturday March 7th

Photos by Claire Weir