Peter, Bjorn and John
Ah, a night of bands whose names are people's names. If you see what I mean.
Opening up are local lads, The Jane Bradfords who are quietly making a name for themselves in the area, and it's easy to see why. From their home-made t-shirts that affectionately mock the evening''s headliner to their impressive use of sampling that sets them apart from the large number of guitar groups, this is a band on the up, with a few ideas, and a sense of a good time. Musically the sampling is what keeps it fresh, as they follow a well-trodden path with bits of New Order and The Strokes vying for space alongside 1980s influences, but this is no tribute act as 'There She Goes Again' is reminiscent of early Snow Patrol (before they went all stadium on us), and 'Fight Them All' is robbed on a split decision for song of the evening.
Peter, Bjorn and John (henceforth known as PB&J), are a lovely bunch of chaps, who you could very easily take home to meet your parents. Following a false start (more of their seemingly limitless charm), 'Let's Call It Off' begins a set of the most delightful set of songs you could imagine, all tinged with a wonderful early 1960s Merseybeat pop sensibility.
Now, you know when friends or family go off somewhere and bring you back a 'comedy' (in the loosest sense of the word) T-shirt stating that "X went to Y and all I got was this lousy T-shirt", well point them in the direction of 'Paris 2004.' Instead of bringing us a dodgy replica of the Eiffel Tower we get a wonderfully crafted song of a precious time in the city of love. You see, it is possible to be original with your gifts. Continuing the travelogue, we get a song originally supposed to be about the Giant's Causeway, but because it was too hard to rhyme, it was renamed 'Amsterdam.' Our loss is Dutch gain. Stripped down, and slower than on album, this is such a laid-back version we're practically horizontal.
And then, proof that you can sell a gig off the back of one song - 'Young Folks.' Unfortunately without the delightful Victoria for the female vocals (much to the disappointment of the men in the audience), this is quite probably the song of the year. A wonderful simple drum beat, and guitar parts, a simple theme of two people together ignoring the rest of the world, it is just simply brilliant. The added bonus of speaker climbing (developing into a regular occurrence in this venue) is unnecessary but most unexpected - rock and roll antics from these charming young men.
Of course, the crowd and the gig do fall a little flat after this high point, but that's understandable as to expect a band to produce another gem like that is unfair. 'Up Against The Wall' is wonderful if not quite touched by the same stardust, and the evening ends in, rather surprisingly, an elongated jam, a band relaxing and enjoying themselves, and you know what, they're so charming they get away with it.