Saturday, May 10, 2008

peter morén @ the troubador

Admittedly there comes a time when it becomes awkward to write yet another raving review highlighting a musician's genius. Yes we get it...he makes pretty sounds on his guitar and is easy on the eyes! In the interest of saving time, I'll say definitively: Peter Morén and the company he keeps are talented. Alone on stage, Peter is an incredibly commanding presence. This much I learned in January. This much was again reinforced by his delicious indie pop solo album. This review is not another fan letter to his music (even though the night would have been significantly less enjoyable without such pretty tunes). No, this is truly a fan letter to last Saturday's concert...which in the hands of any lesser performer would have been a train wreck.

Opener Tobias Fröberg set the tone for the evening, plowing though jokes about his "indie ass" before giving us thematic whiplash with a series of beautiful, albeit simplistic love songs. No doubt one of our kindred spirits. Part crooner, part jokester, Tobias teased his audience saying, "I'm only playing slow songs Los Angeles...that's because I love you so much." Whether a calculated act due to linguistic limitations or a genuine attempt to display every facet of his personality in a tiny opening set, it was charming. There's simply no other word. Halfway though the set, Peter joined him on stage, thus proving when it comes to old friendships, friendship is no sacred cow.1

After a pause, Peter and Tobias, accompanied by Dirty on Purpose drummer Doug Marvin, and Au Revoir Simone's Annie Hart. Go indie super group! The musical result was nothing less than what you'd expect. We covered that, that is, as much as we're qualified to cover it. See opening paragraph.

The execution however was one for the books. Peter admitted early that this was their last stop on a month-long tour. He was exhausted. He'd been crammed in a tiny van appreciating the California coast line, something he'd missed on his previous, Peter Bjorn & John bus tours. Moreover, he was missing his girlfriend who went home after the European leg of the tour.2 This somewhat disconnected rant ended with him playfully shrieking "Someone help me, I don't know what I'm doing!" Had this been a perfect world, he would have been answered by the voice of God in the control booth. Instead, an already drunken heckler by the name of Corey3 took him up on his plea, ordering him in a loud slur to "Play Aha!" (note from m.a.b.: At which point, it should be noted, the sweet, timid Mr. Moren began to heckle Corey back, mocking his drunkenness and general stupidity.) His voice would be a constant companion until Peter finally indulged his new "BFF," leaping down into the audience to dance with Corey in a moment that was a horrifying tribute to one pint too many and Irish dancing. Translation. It was awesome, especially when combined with Peter's less than graceful roll/body flip back onto stage. The next song was dedicated to Peter's dance partner for the night, PB&J's "Collect, Select, Reflect," which amidst its delicate guitar-picking included the line ...You don't always have to be the center of attention. There's a name for what kind of move is: evil genius. Evil genius is always wasted on the wasted.

Rather than stand on ceremony, Peter opted to forgo an encore and stay on stage and play. At this point, having blown through almost his entire solo catalogue and several Peter Bjorn & John songs, the night turned into a covers/jam session as Paul Simon, Buddy Holly, hillbilly rock, and inexplicably Vampire Weekend were all preformed with equal zeal. Finally, Peter, at a lack of anything else to play and commanded by the voice of God in the upstairs control room, had to bring his concert to a close. The recorded backing track to "Twisted" started, and in an act that can only be attributed to escalating relief, exhaustion and euphoria, pranced his way though his final moments on stage, scaling the supporting scaffolding to croon to his adoring fans - an act that left more than one would-be hipster wondering if she was going to come to an early end and a fitting death, crushed by a rock star in slippery dress shoes. Both we and Peter survived unscathed, but rest assured, it'll happen one day.

(Photo Peter Morén: Johan Bergmark)
(Photo Tobias Fröberg: Knotan)

1. I enjoy reminding my friends I have a blog and therefor am WAY cooler than them. I'm usually refreshingly pummeled about the head and shoulders.
2. Give me a second...I'll be okay.
3. Not the 80s actor...once again proving how imperfect life truly can be.

mp3: "Social Competence (live)" by Peter Morén
mp3: "This Is What I Came For (live)" by Peter Morén
mp3: "Collect, Select, Reflect" by Peter Bjorn & John
mp3: "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard (live on KCRW)" by Peter Bjorn & John

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