Stereogum Does CMJ: The Cardigans @ Knitting Factory

After months of frantically ignoring CMJ schedules and timetables, our marathon commenced last night with the one show (aside from The Knife) we knew we’d hit. Because for all we knew, Nina Persson in NYC is an incredible and rare treat. As it turned out, it was mostly that; definitely incredible, absolutely a treat, but seeing as she’s just moved to NYC (and bought her Halloween costume at “Little Ricky’s”! aww, she’s still learning), maybe not so rare after all. Which means very good things for those that missed last night’s show.

We don’t want this post just to be Nina Nina Nina, but who are we kidding — she’s amazing. “Do I look okay?” she asked the crowd shortly after taking the stage. It was a reference to Knitting Factory’s lack of mirrors backstage (“not very girl friendly”), but it was funny hearing that line coming out of her mouth. Nina, you looked fine. Guys’ and girls’ jaws were dropped for the entire, stripped set. How not to be floored? She sounds even more incredible than she looks, and her banter was equally comedic, vulnerable, and sassy. (A note to sound dudes: when Nina wants less guitar, she means like now.) She was ably accompanied by Cardigans guitarist Peter Svenson, and between the two, the sound lacked nothing.

Nina promised songs from the last two albums — Super Extra Gravity and Long Before Daylight — which we love, though our hearts sank a little knowing we wouldn’t hear “Lovefool” or “My Favourite Game.” Not because those were among the band’s biggest hits, but because we know how great they sound acoustic! They’ve been a popular accidental download on the P2Ps for years. (i.e., “This isn’t the album version! It’s … cooler!”). Check ‘em:

The Cardigans – “Lovefool (Acoustic)” (MP3)
The Cardigans – “My Favourite Game (Acoustic)” (MP3)

The night’s big winner was “I Need Some Fine Wine…” which, for some reason, was not the US single. Nina went all out on the vocals to this one and really brought the Knit to its loudest applause of the night. It looked and sounded like this (YouTube). Anyone wanna make MP3 for us? Other gems on the night included “Communication” (less guitar, please!), “Don’t Blame Your Daughter” (oh, misty eyes), and “And Then You Kissed Me” (which Nina deemed better than its Super Extra sequel).

So the two persson format was a new one for Nina, but it worked — and worked well. The crowd shouted requests all night but were told they “weren’t tuned” for those songs. Our encore was the first live performance (she claimed) of “Overload,” a boozy waltz that is in fact meant to sound drunk. But it was a charming drunk, and a cute curtsy later, they were gone.

So anyway, yeah. She’s pretty.