(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)
Artist: Peter Bjorn and John
When: July 7, 2016
Where: Black Sheep stage, Ottawa Bluesfest, Lebreton Flats Park, Ottawa
Context: (One of the things I’ve been missing the most over the last two years from my life pre-pandemic has been live music and this is a theme that I’ve harped upon pretty regularly on these pages. However, now that health and safety restrictions have started to loosen and the world in general seems to be dipping its toes back into the murky sea of normalcy (whatever that means), I haven’t been super eager to buy tickets for any of the many great shows for which I’ve had the opportunity. Well, my anxiety thresholds are soon to be tested because the festival pass that I purchased for the 2020 edition of Ottawa Bluesfest has been rolled over twice and I now appear to have a pass for this coming July, the lineup for which is generally the same as it was two years ago. So in an effort to remind myself of the joy this festival always has brought, I’ve been flipping through the hordes of photos I’ve taken there and came across these seven that I thought I’d share.)
I remember being surprised at the lack of congestion at the smallest stage of the festival that night. They had been the darlings of the indie scene ten years before with their breakout album, “Writer’s block”, and hit single, “Young folks”. And though their subsequent albums hadn’t all had the same punch, they’d all been pretty great in their own regard. The Swedish trio, whose first names give the group its name, Peter Bjorn and John, were joined onstage by touring members, one of whom would provide the female vocal parts for “Young folks” later in the set. They started things off lightning quick with “Up against the wall” and a couple of tracks off their brand new album* before taking the opportunity to introduce themselves. Funnily enough, all three could have just pointed at the name patches that were sewn on the overalls they were wearing, betraying a sense of humour that was also reflected in their lyrics and the way they performed. Given this, I couldn’t actually tell how serious they were being in all their rock and roll posturing but it really ignited the crowd, which definitely grew as time wore on. Indeed, I was quite surprised at the band’s energy and Peter Morén’s ability and magnetism as frontman but by the time he jumped into the crowd and took a stroll among us while singing, it felt just right. The set was an almost perfect mix of old and new, performing all the favourites, including the aforementioned “Young folks”, without a hint of boredom.
Point of reference song: “Love is what you want”
*At that time, said new albums was 2016’s “Breakin’ point”.