Peter Bjorn & John + Clientele | Showbox | 20 September
As I walked into the Showbox Thursday night, Alasdair MacLean was hanging out at the merch table. I couldn’t resist ribbing him, saying that they’re always in Seattle and they should just move here. The Clientele have been here no less than 5 times since 2005 and I think I’ve seen all but one of those times. Alasdair laughed and said that they wouldn’t be back for at least 18 months. He also had a funny story to tell about Louis Philippe coming over back in May for their Boston and NY dates. They were at a truck stop and Philippe was aghast at the terrible food available, when offered some nachos, he wrinkled his nose and sniffed, what are these, tortilla chips? Ok it’s not funny when I write it but it was funny when Alasdair told it in his mock French accent.
The Clientele were much better than when I saw them open for Spoon here back in 2005. When they played with Spoon, they seemed to be swallowed up by the large room, whereas this time with the addition of Mel Draisy on keyboards and violin, they totally filled the room with their shimmering brand of pop. Also, MacLean and the rest of the band seemed to be playing with a lot more confidence tonight, even though MacLean’s guitar was giving him problems (broken string and falling out of tune). They still didn’t play enough from excellent God Save the Clientele for my taste, but I thought the set was descent.
There were a lot of choices Thursday night for the music fan in Seattle, the Decibel Festival was sporting DJ sets by Simian Mobile Disco, Diplo and Switch at Neumo’s and the Flaming Lips were over at the Paramount. Peter, Bjorn and John had no trouble packing the Showbox for their second trip to Seattle. This time though they fully represented their namesake, with drummer John Eriksson making the trip. He was conspicuously absent from their Neumo’s gigs back in May. I actually liked them better the first time I saw them, this time they seemed to use a lot more pre-recorded sounds, whistling included. Peter was still his energetic self, jumping around like a madman, but the set had a ramshackle feel that never quite made it off the ground. They borrowed Clientele drummer Mark Keen for bongos and Mel Draisy to sing Victoria’s part for Young Folks, which was quite nice aside from Peter faking the whistling parts. The krautish version of the Chills was kinda cool, though not as good as I remember it from the Neumo’s show and the Concretes cover appeared in the set again too. The only thing that may have been better was Up Against the Wall, which is their set ending freak-out song. It went on for maybe 10 minutes last night and had Bjorn playing his bass like a guitar while Peter ran around the stage with is shaker. It was kinda crazy. You can tell these guys love playing and are having a blast. Their enthusiasm is infectious and people seemed totally into it, I guess I’m too much a critic and enough of a fan.