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Peter Morén’s Separation Anxiety

Aptly clad in a skinny black tie and sport coat for the landmarkoccasion and snazzy venue — New York City’s intimate Joe’s Pub –Peter Morén, a.k.a the frontman of Swede sensations Peter, Bjorn andJohn, strolled on stage last night (Nov. 19) for his first time ever asa solo act. “I usually play with two other guys,” said Morén, visiblyanxious beneath a crowd of curious eyes, “but this night is going to beabout my songwriting.” Um, sure was — Morén opened with a soloacoustic cover of Richard Hell’s “Time,” and it was spot on, settingthe stage for the humorous and musically impressive night ahead.

Somepeople clam up, others sweat and stutter, but when Morén becomesnervous, it’s all chatter: “I’m going to talk like hell tonight, so beready for it,” he said, fidgeting with his guitar strap. “I have a newband called Peter, Doug and Chris,” Morén then joked, introducing thepiano and drum accompaniment. The trio then dove into “Reel to Reel,” atune from his forthcoming solo debut, The Last Tycoon. The result: an alleviating, flourishing departure with alternating rhythms, plucks, and pounding drums.

Fromthere it was all up hill: “This Is What I Came For,” a lengthy trackwith a wild guitar stanza backed by handclaps followed, and “Le PetiteCoeur,” snagged the evening’s top prize as dark string arrangements andcatchy songwriting delivered poignant melodies and epic crescendos asbass boomed from the piano’s lower register.

The set cappedwith the rollicking “Missing Link” and “My Match,” the latter a catchynumber and only tune played on electric guitar. Then Morén disappearedbackstage — but just briefly. He surfaced to play an old PB&Jsong, “Collect, Select, Reflect,” and a rousing cover of a-ha’s “TakeOn Me,” replete with crowd claps and backing lyrics.

“I thinkI would like to do this again,” Morén exclaimed, beaming in glee, privyto the show’s zealous result, “It was very fun.” Bjorn Yttling, on handto support his bandmate’s endeavors, then saddled up behind the pianofor an acoustic version of PB&J’s “Objects of My Affection,”equally impressive sans reverb drenched guitars. Judging by the ferventovation, fans hope this solo Tycoon takes the stage again very soon, too.

We asked: Peter Morén’s forthcoming solo debut, The Last Tycoon, is predominantly influenced by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished final novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon. If you could choose a book to influence a piece of music, which would you choose?