008-04-26: Schubas (Peter Morén “The Last Tycoon” Solo Album Tour), Chicago
I’d never been to Schubas Tavern before. Really nice venue. And the restaurant has great food. That always helps. Was a bit nervous for this gig. My record label (Quarterstick) is situated here and, of course, you want to do a good gig in front of them. Also we had a string section coming who I’d never met before, meaning the soundcheck was the rehearsal, which can always be a bit tricky. And there was also some problems at soundcheck with our keyboard, meaning time was running out before doors. It ended up being one of the best gigs though. A great atmosphere in a filled room. Afterwards me and Doug had dinner with some Quarterstick/Touch & Go-chaps and then went to check out one of their other bands, Enon, at the Empty Bottle. It sounded really good, but we were exhausted so we didn’t stay long.
2008-04-28: Media Club (Peter Morén “The Last Tycoon” Solo Album Tour), Vancouver
The day after the Chicago gig was a travel day, meaning we flew to Vancouver. Vancouver was pretty grim, cold and rainy, but we had a really nice Italian dinner. The day after was what you call a day off. No traveling! We went into the shopping mode.
I got a new harmonica, a couple of novels by Christopher Isherwood and Henri-Pierre Roché. And a lovely pair of mint condition vintage boots. Never used. At the same shop as P, B & J got 3 matching ruffled shirts before a previous gig. Which seemed a good idea at the time, but which we never worn but that one gig. The boots were a much better deal.
We ate a lot in Vancouver. Sushi and Indian this day. Indian food before a gig is not a good thing. I tend to forget. Makes you too full and burpy. We had hired gear for this gig since most of our own stuff was being shipped to Seattle. To our surprise, we’ve gotten so used to our mini-mini-vox-amps that we had a hard time getting a decent sound out of the proper AC-30’s. The small ones are just perfect for what we want on this tour I guess. Nice enough gig, but not one of my favorites, maybe because of the Indian food and the amps!
2008-04-29: The Triple Door (Peter Morén “The Last Tycoon” Solo Album Tour), Seattle
Seattle is one of my favourite American cities. It has great coffee, that’s for sure. The Triple Door is also a lovely venue, which I’ve visited before, doing an afternoon, invites-only, radio-thing with PBJ. But now it was for a gig proper.
First we went off to Whole Foods to get some healthy lunch. Raining hard here too as in Vancouver. Sometimes it’s a bit relaxing when the weather is bad on tour, you don’t feel you have to explore the cities, every chance you get.
After that we went to do a radio session at the great station KEXP.
That’s where Annie tagged along. Annie Hart to be precise, one third of Brooklyn based keyboard-pop-trio Au Revoir Simone and also Doug’s wife. That’s how I get to meet Doug in the first place. PB & J had Au Revoir Simone as a support act on our first proper U.S. tour in May last year and Doug was traveling with them. He also ended up playing bongos with us on a couple of songs. I’m very grateful to the girls for hooking me up with this lovely man! Annie’s best friend lives in Seattle, so she’d come there a couple of days earlier to visit her and now she was gonna go with us on the last part of the tour.
A great addition to the tour company I would say! She’s a Tetris master and knows how to pack a van properly. She also is a piano player of course, so we added her skills to three numbers in the set, making us a stadium rock band; drums, bass, keys and guitars. Almost Bruce-style! And she has loads of very interesting and entertaining NPR-podcasts like “Radio Lab” on her iPod, making the traveling even easier. I have to get some of those for myself.
The show this night was great. A lovely room as I said, a great sit-down audience which made it cozy and also Brooklyn-based Dawn Landes opened with her friend Ray on drums. Really nice people. Dawn did my favorite cover of “Young Folks”, with her bluegrass version. But she has a lot of great songs of her own too. And the Triple Door has a proper piano, which always makes a huge difference.
2008-04-30: Doug Fir Lounge (Peter Morén “The Last Tycoon” Solo Album Tour), Portland, Ore.
Portland is a nice place too, very indie-rock I guess.
I’ve played Doug Fir Lounge before and the hotel and restaurant that goes with the package is great so it’s bad we had to drive straight after the gig since we had the tours longest drive ahead of us, to SF.
The drive from Seattle is not bad though so we got to hang a bit in the city. After the usual vintage-check (Doug got a shirt) me, Doug and Annie went to the huge bookstore Powells, which I’ve never been to before. I love places like that, maybe it’s because I used to work in a bookstore myself.
I love to have books around me. I only got one though, since I’ve already did some book shopping in Vancouver. I found the Bert Jansch-biography “Dazzling Stranger,” which I’ve been looking for for some time now. Great!
Dawn Landes did another great set that night. And we did too I guess. Britt from Spoon turned up. And then off again on the road for three hours. Lucky me, I’m not driving!
2008-05-01: Swedish American Hall (Peter Morén “The Last Tycoon” Solo Album Tour), San Francisco
A dreadfully long drive this. But so beautiful. I’m so happy I got to see this scenery. And Annie’s NPR-podcasts really did the trip.
Finally arriving at this very suitably named venue for a mixed band of Swedes and Americans (it also looks like an old Swedish Baptist church with all it’s wooden details and a sort of altar stage), we were super stressed. Another bunch of new string players to rehearse with, a soundcheck to be done, a couple of interviews and people wanting to get in to see the gig at the same time. I didn’t have time for dinner and ate a little bit during Tobias set. I thought my show was gonna be dreadful in these circumstances.
But… it turned out to be one of the best. A lot of people, great people (including a stoned guy who clapped along on the wrong beat, totally freaking me out) and me, ending up duckwalking in the aisle like Chuck Berry at the end. And we sold out all the stock of my new album afterwards. More about that later.
By the way, San Fransisco is another one of my favorite American cites.
Something about the houses and the hills really appeal to me. And I have relatives there. They are not hippies.
2008-05-03: Troubador, Los Angeles
After SF, another superlong drive. At first we had a gig scheduled for the 2nd and I’m so glad we decided to cancel that. We would have played bad out of exhaustion. We took the 101, since we had a day just to drive and might as well join the sights. And what sights! Amazing! Almost only beaten by the lovely hills of Scotland.
It was sad to hear Tobias last morning show, the last Cindy Lauper-cut, the last Bruce Springsteen! And also the last time we got to listen to out favorite Swedish classic Björn Skifs “Det blir alltid värre framåt natten”. It was the Swedish contestant for the eurovision song contest in 1978. He was also the guy who put the hoga-chacka in his version of “Hooked on a Feeling” and ended up being the first Swede to top the Billboard charts in the early ’70s. Pete the TM, Doug and Annie are now all big Björn Skifs-fans. Me and Tobias already were of course.
We stopped at a beach town called Summerland and had dinner. I ordered something called seafood bonanza. I didn’t really understand it was all fried fish (lots, lots of it) and fries. American cuisine is killing me slowly.
In L.A. we stayed at Best Western Hollywood Hills. It situated in the same building as the amazing Diner 101. Fantastic breakfast and not to mention their blueberry milkshake called the Purple Haze. We ate something there everyday. Hello heart attack!
Next day in L.A., we had some time off and I had to deal with the embarrassing mission of going to Amoeba Music and buy their entire stock of my own album, to have for that nights show. It felt really weird.
Next time I’m gonna let the TM do stuff like that. If it happens again. Hopefully not. Though of course, now they have to order more, which is good. We also sold almost all of them that night, so I guess it was worth it.
I picked up some other albums at the same time, among them Van Dyke Parks first classic record and a Rock Steady-compilation.
The Troubador gig was a bit weird, I must admit. I’ve never been to this classic venue before. My good friend Matt from the band Foreign Born, opened with his solo project Big Search. Tom Petty had just played there 6 nights in a row, with his reformed first band Mudcrutch. I threw in a bit of his song “Walls” to celebrate that. I do love some of Tom’s stuff. He was an idol growing up.
We had strings again, but I’ve played with them before, so it was all cool. But it was just a weird atmosphere in the room and I got a bit nervous I guess. Last gig-pressure! We played good and everything but I just babbled more than usual when I perhaps just should have played.
Then this guy called Corey started calling out for “Take on Me”, which kind of blew off the nights main surprise I guess. I started chatting with him from stage and he turned into to the night’s big joke. He was drunk and/or stoned. It all came to a climax when we played his request “Take on Me”. I invited him to dance Riverdance in front of the stage and then jumped up to him and danced with in a sort of seductive way, playing my guitar at the same time. It was all fun I guess, but kind of a freak show. People seemed to enjoy it though!
After that we emptied all our covers on the audience too. I think we did 5 or 6 covers until we basically got thrown off stage. A night to remember! Also it was good to see Ben from my British label Wichita, who was in town. He was a bit like Corey, meaning drunk, but funnier.
All in all, a very good tour.
We stayed out in L.A. a couple of days after, me and Tobias did some radio and press and hung out with local friends, taking us around sightseeing. Now it will be good to get back home again. It’s spring in Stockholm!