Peter Bjorn and John, Maps and Those Dancing Days at The Forum


5 nov. 2007, 13h22m

Sun 4 Nov – Peter Bjorn and John, Maps, Those Dancing Days

Those Dancing Days: Albeit we arrived probably a quarter through the set, Those Dancing Days didn't particularly win me over. The atrocious sound at the venue (more to follow) may have been partially to blame, but the band didn't really sound very tight at all. The rhythms were jaunty, poppy, fresh, on the right side of twee, and certainly the band had an energy to back up the lightness of the melodies, but something seemed missing. Personally, I found the vocals quite irksome, although the singer wasn't dislikeable, merely just somewhat monotone. A case of style over substance? Perhaps. That's the only explanation for why a hybrid of soul, jangly-pop and supposedly chorus-centric ditties didn't quite manage to blend the influences to get the finished product that everyone's talking about... well at least on this night.

Maps: Again, although the reverb was more akin to Wembley Arena, meaning that even complete harmonic unity wouldn't be shown off, this was pretty spectacular stuff. Difficult to pigeonhole (although I'll hypocritically proceed to attempt anyway), Maps offer shoegaze without total introversion, ambience with more than something of the toe-tap, and an intimacy on record so entirely transformed live. It's not pretentious, in fact it even evokes John Cage and the greatest pioneers of minimalism. The kind of precise electronica that the casualBattles listener can only dream of in terms of accessibility, and epic at that. Superlatives much? Give it a go and you'll see how much it will blow your mind... it's only a shame that the ridiculously chatty audience and poor excuses for sound technicians didn't stand up and take note.

Peter Bjorn and John: So we get to the pinnacle, the band open with a Writer's Block intro offering much promise and perhaps even convincing me that the sound's been sorted out. The band go through the hits, Peter resembling a ferret on acid most of the time (in the loveliest, quirkest way), with incoherent pigeon-esque banter from sausage factories to friends here and there, and yet the crowd still continue to talk amongst themselves. On record, PB&J are innovative and diverse, taking in anthemic jerk-pop, fuzzy lo-fi, and beats to kill. So I wondered, how would this transfer to a venue this audially challenging? The audience are hostile so far, and at a reasonable guess, have turned up on the basis of Young Folks, but the band are no newcomers with a three-album back catalogue so should find it more of a cakewalk than a hurdle to overcome. Instead, they approach the occasion without gusto, grace or too much personality. For the next few songs I wonder whether I'm witnessing something fantastical or instead, a disappointment, and I still can't be sure as the setlist was a bit hit and miss. The unfamiliar listener may have had difficulty distinguishing between tracks, that is until Amsterdam is announced just over halfway through the set. Before even the first note, the crowd finally decide to start giving the band perhaps the boost that they need (although perhaps not seeing as Peter, perhaps post-ironically, proclaimed the reception "one of the best") but then somehow the chance to turn the gig around was thrown away as Amsterdam became devoid of the hooks, the simplicity, and the energy that so defines it on record. Confusion strikes again, until more incongruous banter occurs but this time with a means to an end... the introduction of Robyn as a guest on Young Folks. The band suddenly appear energised once more, the crowd at once looking like they'd just woken from a coma, and nobody upon nobody able to contain their dancing feet. And it reminded everyone just what a fantastic tune this is, how honest lyrics and a simple repetitive little whistle can so capture the mainstream. Then about a third of the audience left, cashing in on what they wanted, relievedly, while I still stood there dismayed by the inconsistence. They shouldn't have thrown away The Song; in fact they should have saved it until the encore. However, it is probably true to say that post-Young Folks, everything seemed a bit more free 'n' easy, pressure-free, like there was nothing to prove anymore. So the band came in to their own for a few more songs, bringing the hooks back out and throwing themselves (well, mainly just Peter again) around like pre-pubescent schoolboys. But then there was a swift comedown once more as it seemed there was no where else to go. Another quarter of the audience left before the encore, and then the night ended leaving me unsure of what I'd just seen. By all accounts, it should have been a negative conclusion but I can attribute a lot of the criticism towards the sound as perhaps personality would have come with the jokes not being lost in translation from the mic to me, but nonetheless, I wouldn't not give it another go, I'd just say that it wasn't one of the best gigs I'd seen of recent.


  • pawawa

    i just want to say that europe is different like a yuppie's flu song, i was in the front totally in shock taking pictures singing all the songs, but i couldn't feel the same emotion with the rest of the audience, in mexico will be completly different, i mean it was, last march in mexico city, and i know they are most known because of young folks, but they are not that song! i am please of what i saw, but yet not enough :/ te sound was awful! i still can't understand why maps were louder than pb&j and for those dancing day, i fell in love with them, the drummer was awsome! they were so nervous, but they are not bad at all, i like them, i never heard about them before. i mean is not quite a new thing, but in well done. [img][/img] [img][/img] [img][/img]

    6 nov. 2007, 10h08m
  • michalboo

    haha it's not europe, it's london on a sunday ;) i was doing my sidestep/shuffle/bop most of the time, not that it's easy to notice... anyways, i really liked their set, they seem to really know what they're doing their old songs, that i'd never heard before were all fun. i even liked the 'swedish humour'. one thing i could have done without was robyn's singing... let us not get into that. due to forgetting my ticket and having to come back for it twice i missed - some would say luckily - those dancing days and - tragically - about half of maps' set... i really liked the songs i got to hear though.

    7 nov. 2007, 0h52m
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