Live at Brudenell Social Club on Thursday, 28th August 2008
Peter Moren, from Peter, Bjorn and John is seemingly part of the growing Swedish indie mafia, joining his fellow countryman for just four dates on this tour. Although his voice creaked a little during hushed and delicate moments like Ma Petite Coeur, when he ups the tempo he sounds much more in his element. When he announced that he was going "become famous in Leeds" by performing a cover by a Norwegian band I was expecting an obscure take on a little-known Scandinavian posse rather than a rendition of Take On Me by A-ha complete with a pitch perfect "In a day or two-ooooo". Verging somewhere between twee and cool, Moren ultimately wins over with his charm and rambling inter-song banter.
José González shuffles onstage to much salutation. He cuts a surprisingly shy demeanour performing live. He rarely speaks, only uttering a small numbers of thanks to the crowd and making a few indiscernible comments which go largely unnoticed.
But despite the lack of a stage persona, he delivers a set that really brings his sometimes bland recordings to life. Whereas his albums can sometimes merge into one long mix of twilight softness, the gentle rhythms are allowed to develop more in this form, percolating slowly before building to a frantic crescendo. Crosses is a perfect example of this, beginning with a subtle refrain then building towards a crashing finale.
On the previous occasion I had seen José González was at the City Hall in Newcastle where the delicate sound chimed and echoed around the hall to great effect. Playing here in the Brudenell was a different kind of experience, with Gonzalez and backing band appearing to more comfortable and homely, but perhaps lacking the cerebral quality of the theatrical where his sound isolated him from the audience.
Although his second LP In Our Nature hasn't fared as well with the punters as his first effort Veneer due to lack of mainstream airplay (better get his manager to give Sony a call), tracks taken lifted from it such as The Nest and How Long come and go more memorably than on record and take on a more resonate tone.
His well-known covers are possibly the expected highlight, with the splendid Heartbeats getting the loudest cheers (and quietest hush). Though Teardrop starts sedately it ascends into a crescendo of chanting and overwhelming percussion. He rounded the night off with a punchy rendition of Bronski Beat's Small-Town Boy (thankfully without the Jimmy Sommerville screeching). A fitting end to the evening; an unexpected relic transformed into something that fits his mesmerising delivery like a glove.