Peter Bjorn and John at the Pageant, Tuesday, August 7
In a few years, perhaps Peter Björn and John will become known as Peter Björn John and Phillip. While this moniker might not have quite the same ring, the latter man – who’s the Swedish trio’s pale, deathly serious sound tech – provided some all-important bongo-backing and valuable comedic relief during PB&J’s Tuesday night Pageant show.
The aforementioned percussion wizard entered the stage during an (unsurprisingly) well-received version of the band’s now-ubiquitous hit “Young Folks,” summoned with an abrupt “Philip!” by Björn. Philip, ghostly-white, tattooed, and clad in black from head to toe, assumed an expressionless, nonchalant thumbs-hooked-in-the-belt pose; then, as Peter commenced the song’s familiar whistle hook and jettisoned his guitar in favor of maracas, he came alive in a whirl of blurry hands hitting bongos. It was simultaneously hilarious and mesmerizing.
(Of course, the downside to any lineup additions would mean a change to PB&J’s merchandising gimmick, which consists of labeling everything with its name: “Peter Björn and John T-Shirt,” “Peter Björn and John Bag” and on-stage, “Peter Björn and John Bass Drum.”)
Scrawny, show-stealing bongo players aside, PB&J’s setlist drew almost exclusively from its 2006’s breakout album Writer’s Block, which didn’t disappoint the decent-sized, floor-only crowd.
The show opened in darkness as a brief, sitar-only version of “Young Folks” played over the venue sound system. The song transitioned into “Let’s Call It Off,” as the band, clad in black suits and white loafers, entered. True to its reputation, PB&J produced new arrangements with live versions of several songs -- such as “Amsterdam,” which was transformed into a sparse, downtempo guitar ballad.
What stands out about PB&J’s show, however, is the unbridled enthusiasm of the band, particularly lead singer Peter Moren, who bounds around the stage, windmills his guitar and does enough jump kicks to star in Kill Bill 3 – moves he displayed on the first set’s closer “Objects of My Affection,” which had a much sharper rock edge than its recorded counterpart.
The two-song encore consisted of “Roll the Credits” and “Up Against the Wall,” the latter concluding with a shredding guitar solo from Peter.
As a bonus, Björn was spotted at the Delmar Lounge prior to the show carrying a bag from Vintage Vinyl. When asked about his purchases, he replied: “Only Janet Jackson.”