LIVE REVIEW: Peter Bjorn and John @ Webster Hall

Photos by Aaron Tian for AudioFemme.

Three revered names in indie pop made their presences known before a simple light display akin to a cross between an electrocardiogram and a music staff. You have the sharply dressed bassist Björn Yttling donning a blazer, while drummer John Eriksson took his seat behind the kit, standing out in a simple white baseball cap. Finally, lead singer and guitarist Peter Morén positions himself at the other end of the stage in what resembles a utility suit. All three are unified in their look with an array of the band’s patches on their navy blue outfits, as well as name tags  – you know, in case you forgot who you were there to see.

Morén quipped that back in 2000, they signed a contract stating that if anyone left the band, they had to replace him with somebody of the same name. Fast forward sixteen years and seven records later, and Peter Bjorn and John are back with an even more danceable new sound that challenges the classic definition of pop music and conveys no less energy in the live show.


Peter jumped over the barrier of the pit early on to walk around the crowd during “It Don’t Move Me,” for a rock ‘n’ roll display – “I’m not a big fan of rock,” he says.  “Rock ‘n’ roll, on the other hand, it’s kinda sexy.” – which set the tone for the etiquette of the evening: dance with complete disregard for the space around you, and don’t stop moving.

While this tour spotlights the most infectious pop tracks off the new record, Breakin’ Point, a taste of each of their previous records worked seamlessly into the mix:  a performance of “Eyes” that highlighted Bjorn’s talent on bass, Peter guiding the crowd through a singalong of “Dig A Little Deeper,” and John’s command over the slowed down breakbeat of “Amsterdam,” which brought back memories for both me and the girl behind me, who said that “every song from 2007 just flashed in

[her] mind.”


Along with bringing outside producers into the mix for Breakin’ Point, two new touring members have accompanied the band this time around, allowing them to achieve a live sound closer to what you hear on their records.  Peter took the time out to introduce the two “dear friends and talented musicians,” Freja on backing vocals and percussion, and Klaus on the computer and keyboard.  In addition, Julian Harmon of POP ETC took over on the bongos while Freja took center stage as the female counterpart in “Young Folks,” the hipster whistle song that just turned ten this year.

But Peter Bjorn and John continue to prove over and over again that they are beyond capable of getting more than just that song and “Second Chances” stuck in your head for days on end. Closing out the show with “I Know You Don’t Love Me,” which is no slower but a bit more mellow, the trio still makes use of the whole stage and every ounce of vitality left in them during the song’s extended instrumental bridge.


The upbeat intensity of the live performance showcases the harmony that makes Peter Bjorn and John work so well together.  As Peter said, “You meet someone, you do some things, 10 years later you have a family.”