Singer by name, storyteller by heart, Pelle Carlberg's songs are little vignettes into his life: hearing an I'm from Barcelona song on the radio while visiting Spain ("Pamplona"); phoning the critic who gave him a bad review ("Go to Hell Miss Rydell"); his teenage years in Stockholm ("1983 ("Pelle & Sebastian). And his between song banter and introductions are just as compelling. The guy's a real charmer and the crowd at Union Hall hung on every word, spoken and sung, wildly applauding and demanding not one but two encores. Carlberg seemed genuinely taken aback by the crowd reaction. I think we would've had him play all night.
Of course it had been two years since the Swede had played New York, and who knows when he'll return, so we were going to get as much as he would give. Backed by Jonathan, his bassist/drummer/harmonica player/harmonizer (sometimes all at once), Pelle played an hour-long set that seemed to me heavier on his first two albums (2005's Everything Now! and 2007's In a Nutshell) than last year's somewhat disappointing The Lilac Time,. (My phone's unlisted.) We did get it's best songs, "Because I'm Worth It," the aforementioned "1983 (Pelle & Sebastian)," plus two covers: a genuinely awesome version of Elton John's "Rocket Man" and a rusty but fun rendition of the Darkness' "I Believe in a Thing Called Love." The evening finished with "Fly Me to the Moon," a sweet-sounding but bile-fueled invective against European cheapo airline Ryan Air who gave him the worst travel experiences of his life. Hopefully his trip back to Sweden was uneventful.
There's a lot of free, legal Pelle Carlberg MP3s out there, including some of his best songs. Here's a few of them:
MP3: Pelle Carlberg - Go to Hell Miss Rydell (buy Everything Now!)
MP3: Pelle Carlberg - Clever Girls... (buy In a Nutshell)
MP3: Pelle Carlberg - 1983 (buy The Lilac Time)
Abby from Sup Magazine shot a whole lot of video, some of which is after the jump...