Concert Review: Memoryhouse, Peter, Bjorn, and John, September 2, Lee’s Palace



Friday night marked the first labour day in recent memory in which I didn’t feel a dire need to escape Toronto for the long weekend. There’s something about the last real long weekend in our short summer that prompts a mass exodus–but  the groundswell of Peter Bjorn and John’s popularity since their 2006 breakthrough album Writer’s Block made for a packed house in the first of their two-night engagement at Lee’s Palace.

Fellow Swedes Memoryhouse accompanied them for this part of the tour–Subpop records is releasing “The Years” on September 13, and it’s got some great songs, with a lot of the arrangements able to compete with the best nu-gaze. 19-year-old Vocalist / photographer Denise Nouvion and her partner Evan Abalee are both transplanted Swedes who had lived and studied in Guelph, and are now in Toronto. So considering this is their first real forage into live music performance, it’s hard not to want to be easier on Denise’s sometimes inconsistent vocals. Maybe this exposure with PBJ will help develop their banter and compel them to add some back-up vocals to help out their frontwoman. Instrumentally, they are well on their way.

As for Peter (the singer/guitarist), Bjorn (the bassist/vocalist), and John (the drummer), clearly a lot has changed as a result of their frequent touring. Like a lot of the better high-energy shows I’ve seen, this one had an “opening” that the band ran out to. In this case it was the opening to A Space Odyssey.

Of the three of them, Peter in particular has become a seductive showman, able to pull off a full cream suit while jumping off speakers and taking a few songs to the floor. It’s not really fair to think of these guys as the one-hit “Whistling Song” wonders (Peter introduced this as the “X-Files” David Duchovny’s theme song from Californication to our bafflement, then jumped into the audience to the song most people probably came to hear). There were a lot of other better moments from their new album Gimme Some (Second Chance brought down the house). Part of what made Friday such a good show is that the band collected the best singles from each of their albums and incorporated it into their setlist. Their second show from Saturday dug a little deeper into their back catalogue but looks like it struck the same balance. If there was only one approach I’d change it’d be extra-long encore tacked onto the end. I’m not a fan of encores in general (it just always feels like a rouse), but think that if they must exist, they should be short.

For some reason, no one has posted the setlist from the first show in Toronto, but this one from the previous night in Detroit seems comparable.

  1. Tomorrow Has to Wait
  2. Move Me
  3. Eyes
  4. Breaker, Breaker
  5. DALD
  6. Amsterdam
  7. Macabre
  8. Young Folks
  9. Second Chance
  10. Objects of My Affection
  11. Down Like Me


  1. Stay This Way
  2. NTWA
  3. Coffin
  4. Lies
  5. Lay it Down

Peter Bjorn and John – Young Folks by Wichita Recordings

Posted on by Allison in Concerts

About Allison