Peter Bjorn and John Close Out "Birthday Tour" @ Club Nokia, Love Their Jobs

Peter Bjorn and John Close Out “Birthday Tour” @ Club Nokia, Love Their Jobs

Peter Bjorn & John 10 Years

I’m jealous of how much Peter Bjorn and John love their jobs. The Swedish band recently embarked on a short, 13-date US “Birthday Tour” to celebrate their 10-year anniversary of making contagious, sophisticated indie-poprok goodness. Even though things got off to a slow start Saturday night at the tour’s final stop at Club Nokia in LA, they didn’t stay that way for long.

Guitarist Peter Moren, bassist Bjorn Yttling, and drummer John Eriksson ably flailed about the stage, instruments in hand (including, at one point, drum stands), with the stamina and vigor of 16-year-olds in a Kiss cover band. Writer’s Block’s “Amsterdam” proved a bit of a weak opener, but PB&J quickly settled into the stage and pumped out an intensely spirited set of their career highlights. And, despite the aforementioned flailing, did it without missing a note.

The birthday celebration included a few special guests, among them the LA Ladies Choir (who helped add Living Thing’s “Just the Past” and “Nothing to Worry About” to the highlights list for the night) and fellow Swede Lykke Li, who joined the band to sing Victoria Bergsman’s parts on their 2006/2007 hit (and My Poproks #35 song of the decade), “Young Folks” (Li had previously sung on the track live at this year’s Coachella set).

The preeminent story of the night, though, was the band’s genuine, non-stop enthusiasm, which resulted in Moren’s dramatic collapse to the floor before the encore. He was fine, and somehow mustered up the energy to play for another half hour. “Turns out we still have a lot of time left,” muttered Moren buoyantly into the microphone post-midnight, “so, we’re just gonna keep playing.” Then, while the final notes of closer (and favorite) “Objects Of My Affection” were still ringing out, Moren announced his departure for the merch booth, jumped off the stage, and proceeded to sign autographs until nearly 1am.

While many of the songs translated live with a heavier guitar influence than exists on the band’s recent albums (including a few Kiss loving solos), and, for most of the set, were limited to 3 musicians, the band’s quirky, catchy arrangements still sounded flawless and phenomenal. Between Yttling’s eccentric stumbling and off-beat hand gestures, Moren’s rabid dancing/hopping/shaking, and the band’s excessively sing-a-longable melodies, I’d say it was a pretty great Birthday party.

For a 10-year-old band, they don’t look a day over three.

Elizabeth Stolfi


SXSW ’09: Peter Bjorn & John @ KCRW & KEXP

Peter Bjorn & John, Skybar, August 18, 2009
SXSW ’08: Peter Morén & Dizzee Rascal (Rare Bjorn-less & John-less appearance for Peter)
Peter Bjorn and John @ Roxy, 2/1/07