Peter Bjorn and John, Shutes

Mike Hughes 03/02/2011

This was an invite only and fan-club gig for Peter Bjorn and John to showcase their new album 'Gimme Some', due out at the end of March. 

I'd already read some comment that the the album is expected be a return to their pop roots and this piqued my interest enough to get me across town. I wasn't disappointed. There wasn't an acoustic guitar in sight, in fact they were coming off in moments like a classic rock power trio… and not in a bad way. The main set consisted of the new tracks, nothing more, nothing less, although as they pointed out, not in the album order. Peter asked us not to record it please, as they had already performed that task for themselves. Any hint of tweeness or quirky novelty was limited to the giant foam hands flung from the stage into the audience. These were emblazoned with the album name which Peter pointed out was so that people would remember. That was a wasted exercise tonight, with a good number of the audience being from the industry and the rest of the crowd being those who had been big enough fans to find out about this supposedly secret event. I say "supposedly" as my Songkick notifier had spilled the beans a few days before more official sources. In any event, the sold out sign was up well before they came on.

Fresh in from L.A. they were all jumpers and raincoats on stage, and with Nordic charm a-plenty. That's part of the Peter Bjorn and John schtick, but as I say, they rocked out pretty hard for most of the set and before long they were forced to strip down to shirt sleeves. John (on drums) had reportedly lost his voice, but Peter and Bjorn on lead and bass more than covered that. For a man in a v-necked sweater, Peter does a nice line in jump kicks. 

It's difficult to be too analytical when you don't know the songs. The overall impression I got from the new material was well formed, well rounded and energetic indie-rock, not the pop-fest I might have been expecting. Anyone who was there on the strength of 'The Young Folk' (and there were plenty shouting for it) was disappointed. It didn't even get played. A lot of the strength of Peter Bjorn and John lies in their lyrics, so that will have to wait for a proper listen. From what I heard tonight, it's absolutely going to have my attention when the album comes out in around 8 weeks. 

Support came in the form of Shutes; worth checking out if you happen to be in the neighbourhood. Shoegazey to start, with hints of west coast surf melody, and a nice line in keening vocals from singer Michael Champion.