Stockholm, Sweden has long been the pumping heart of the some of the world’s best indie rock/pop music scene, of which many of the bands largely remain undiscovered outside their home country. The list is long and plentiful and to many, perhaps not recognised, bands like, I’m From Barcelona, The Mary Onettes, Acid House Kings, Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, Sambassadeur, Club 8 and the excellent The Radio Dept. Those that broke through their country boundaries include The Cardigans, The Concretes, Junip, Miike Snow, First Aid Kit and of course, (let’s not forget ABBA) Peter, Bjorn and John. A band who in 2006 released one of the decades catchiest tunes that had the world whistling in unison. Far from one hit wonders, PB&J return for their second tour to Australia in 9 years, and the band prove that they have plenty more to offer than just a song with a whistle.
Tonight, following a delayed arrival after a misplaced meal order down the road, we only managed to catch the last two tracks from the Michael Pitt-esque Hein Cooper. By now the Corner Hotel was filling up to see the return, after nearly ten years of the scando pop trio Peter, Bjorn and John.
We jostled for a spot cans of Melbourne bitter in our hands, under the red glow of the mirror balls set against strange filler music that made us feel like we were in a pokies venue rather than a hallowed hall of live music. Before long the lights dimmed and right on time the show began with the trio bouncing on to the stage, belting out their opener ‘A Long Goodbye’, a track from their newest and very catchy album, Breakin’ Point. And so away we went with the boys from Sweden filling up and prancing across the stage (and the room) like the most delightful show ponies. As Peter informed the crowd after the first set of tracks from the new album they had been practicing the last nine years to be worthy of our attention, and they certainly are.
Key to the charm of this band is their fun and bouncy popish tracks and live gig format, with which they woo and engage the audience. We bounced about to ‘Hard Sleep’ as Peter weaved his way down onto the floor, through the delighted crowd, microphone in hand making the crowd scramble for their smart phones to film him up close. Behind the stage was a dazzling light show, which pulsated like millions of colourful ants back and forth that offered the perfect backdrop to the energy on the stage itself.
We were led along a completely energised and enjoyable path through the catchy tracks from the latest album, made up of songs that lyrically tell a story and recognisable choruses that got the crowd clapping and singing along. We particularly liked the backstory Peter fed us about the tracks especially ‘Paris 2004’ and its follow up ‘Do Si Do’, along with the expected and fun whistling that has long been Peter, Bjorn and John’s trademark of sorts. It has to be a good night when you find yourself in a band room with a sizable part of the audience whistling along to a catchy tune or two.
And then, too quickly, it was over. The boys and their two guests were completely entertaining and kept the pace bounding along so well that we quickly found the night drawing to a close. Not before, however, we were treated to one of the most spectacular sights of the evening: Peter, while really caning his guitar in ‘I Know You Don’t Love Me’ lay himself on to the waiting hands of the audience to be borne up above the heads, it was a fantastic sight. Then he returned to the stage and managed, for a second or two, to clamour up and balance on the cymbals, guitar still roaring.
Peter, Bjorn and John really do entertain and, after their hiatus, we weren’t disappointed by what they have to offer. Even without re-listening to their tracks, the catchy tunes were persistent earworms while wandering the windy streets of the suburbs over the following days. However seeing them live was the true delight. This trio is as delightful a band as you’ll ever find, and we really hope they don’t make us wait another ten years to hear what they come up with next.