Peter, Bjorn and John have been thrilling the ears of pop fans worldwide since their smash album 'Writer's Block' and its whistling hit 'Young Folks' propelled them into minor-league stardom.

A few hundred Ottawans were happy to plunk down $23.50, blow off ugly rumours that Peter, Bjorn and John were a so-so live band, and march into the two-storey box called the Capital Music Hall to see the Swedish trio live.

Another pop-minded trio, Brooklyn’s Chairlift, opened things up, but didn’t do much to get the crowd warmed up. The band's synth pop sounded anaemic. Singer and keyboardist Caroline has a nice voice, and despite her weird decision to wear a trash bag and workboots as a costume seems like a capable stage performer. Unfortunately her Nord was sounding decidedly rinky-dinky, and wasn't getting a boost from guitarist Aaron's boring fretwork and processed guitar tones. Drummer Patrick was good though. Things did heat up a bit when they turned the volume up, but overall they left the impression of a decent Sunday morning chillout band out of their depth.

The self-admitted caveat to Peter, Bjorn and John’s live set is that they rock out live, sacrificing some of the melodies for which they are renowned. That was true in spades of this performance, which was distinguished by some very energetic bounding, by lead singer Peter Moeren. He joked after the first few songs his pants were starting to slip off -"I need to eat more!" - but he must burn off a lot of calories jumping around and running about! Bjorn's three-day beard and hangdog expression suggest a serious hangover, but he rocked out as well - when not affixing the crowd with a distant stare. John was stuck behind his drum kit - an unusual setup with the snare front and centre, a floor tom on each side, and the kick drum off to his right - but worked up a fair sweat himself.

Most of the crowd didn’t seem to mind the melody versus jumping tradeoff.

I don't think any band could have worked the crowd harder than Peter, Bjorn and John as they wound up their main set with rocking versions of ‘Let's Call It Off’ and ‘Objects of My Affection’ (featuring some guest bongo playing by Chairlift's Patrick). The main set felt fairly short, but they came back for a long encore, capped with ‘Nothing To Worry About’, a brief segue into the chorus of Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’ that turned into parody after the first 20 seconds and some fairly pointless rock ramalama.

It was pretty clear that the audience was most excited about the tunes off ‘Writer's Block’: They whooped as the melody of 'Amsterdam' emerged early in the set and were thrilled by the appearance of ‘Young Folks’ - with Peter managing some very credible whistling. Their more recent material also sounded very good and survived the transition from studio to stage better than some of their older stuff.

A few might grumble about a shortage of the band’s pop brilliance, but, judging by the enthused comments from audience members when the lights went up, they were in the minority.











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Commenting On: Capital Music Hall, Ottawa, 26/4/2009 - Peter, Bjorn and John








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