Review: Peter, Bjorn and John - Live in Los Angeles


The Wiltern Theatre is an exceptional place to view live music events. It is a historical landmark in Los Angeles and is considered one of the finest examples of art deco architecture in the United States. This theatre has hosted some of the biggest names in the music industry such as The Rolling Stones and Radiohead. On September 17th I had the pleasure of checking out Swedish indie rockers Peter, Bjorn and John in this legendary setting!

Swedish Imports Peter, Bjorn and John

My only knowledge of this band is their huge international hit, "Young Folks,” and I was interested in seeing what a live performance would be like. The trio based out of Stockholm are touring to promote the album “Writers Block.” They appeared in LA with two opening acts; The Clientele from Hampshire, England and Marissa Nadler from Boston. Both opening acts were impressive in their own right.

The show opened with Marissa Nadler who is a solo act who may be considered a dream-folk musician, performing music that is strange, yet classic melancholy songs. Her set was abruptly stopped during the first song due to technical difficulties but she quickly recovered and continued a great set. She has been compared to the likes of Hope Sandoval, Neko Case and Kate Bush. Nadler is part of a recent folk revival that is starting to impress the typical non-folk listener. Her current album called “Songs III Bird on the Water” can be found on Peacefrogs Records in Europe and Kemado Records in the US. If you have the opportunity to check her out, I highly recommend it. It was an unexpected treat.

The second act was The Clientele, a four piece from England who have experienced great success in the US. They are supporting their album entitled “ God Save the Clientele” on Merge Records. The indie/psychedelic/pop music was a great touch to warm up the crowd. The band consists of Alasdair MacLean on vocals and guitar, James Hornsey on bass, Mark Keen on drums and Mel Draisy on keyboards, violin, xylophone and tambourine. Their sound was very reverb-rich with a lot of breathy vocals (which is accomplished by plugging the microphone into a guitar amplifier), with some interesting guitar styles and plethora of instruments played by Mel Draisy. They were a perfect fit to accompany Peter, Bjorn and John on this tour.

LA's Wiltern Theatre

The highly anticipated Peter, Bjorn and John set did not disappoint! They came out to about 1,500 fans all screaming with into music playing an instrumental version of “Young Folks” called “Sitar Folks” which is a bonus track off of Writers Block with only a sitar to play the licks. The giant backdrop flaunting the bands name also was received with cheers and screams. The room really seemed to come alive once they hit the stage. P,B & J, one of the biggest surprise success stories in the past year. They played numerous hits off the Album “Writers Block” and a few selections from past albums. All the songs are carefully produced and all have their own merits and character that make the live performance so majestic. Performing songs like “Teen Love”, “Objects of My Affection”, “Amsterdam” and of course the hit “Young Folks” and many more.

The definite highlight of the night was when they brought out The Clientele's Meg Draisy (vocals) and Mark Keen (bongos) for “Young Folks”. This was received with the loudest applause and screams of the night. Meg sang the female vocals perfectly (originally sang by Victoria Bersgsman on the album.) With Fog and light effects, high energy and funny banter in between songs, the show was even greater than I could have hoped for!

The songs are all well-crafted and the live performances help prove this out. The hype that surrounds Peter, Bjorn and John and the "Young Folks" track helps to fill the halls for live performances but it arguably does the band a disservice - because they are far more than a "one-hit" band. If you have an opportunity to see them live, do so!

Peter, Bjorn and John's record "Writers Block" is available on Almost Gold in the US and is a joint release from Wichita/V2 in Europe.

Krista Jane is an rsl correspondent

Peter, Bjorn & John:
Official home / myspace / wikipedia


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