When the curtain lifted at the House of Blues on Peter Bjorn and John, the first thing you noticed was the word "backdrop" written several times in large letters behind the Swedish indie trio. I had no idea who was Bjorn or Peter or John, but it was immediately clear that the guys came to rock.
They kicked off with the song "Living Thing,” the title track on their new CD. It had a rockabilly vibe that reminded me of Brian Setzer, and the band threw in some Chuck Berry moves for good measure. When they did a song called "I Want You," an exuberant fan responded, "to want me!" This forced the drummer to take on some vocal duties: "Hey, shut the fuck up! You're starting to piss me off!" Otherwise, the bassist and guitarist split singing the songs. The drummer had an electric drum he would hit occasionally, and the guitarist moved to keyboards for some songs.
This was the 10th anniversary of the band, they announced, adding, "Some of you weren't even born when we started." That wasn't the case, although this was an all-ages show. "History Is Done" was a bit too techno for my taste, but the crowd’s movement suggested that they felt otherwise. When PB&J played their hit "Young Folks," the winner of a pre-show whistling contest whistled the intro, and he didn't disappoint as he danced around while waiting for his next verse. For their pre-encore closing number, a trumpeter, someone playing a cowbell, and the band’s guitar tech all joined PB&J on stage. The jam started out with good intentions, but became a loud mess. That said, it was still the best concert I've seen in years.
Concert: Peter Bjorn and John
Venue: House of Blues
Show date: November 17, 2009
Seats: standing room only; stood in front of soundboard in middle of venue