Junipher Greene was the first and also the leading Norwegian prog rock band in the late 60’s and the start of the 70’s. Their double LP Friendship was the first double album released by a Norwegian artist, and it is still considered the best Norwegian album of all times. The band disbanded some 30 years ago, but the last 4 years they have played some concerts together every year. Their first concert in 2013 was at Rockefeller in Oslo yesterday.
This concert is the third time I have seen them the last three years, while I first saw them in 1971 at a folk festival in Haugesund, a legendary festival among those of us who attended it. I remember that their organist, Helge Groeslie, broke a couple of keys on his organ and cut his fingers, but he still played the whole concert. I checked out the keyboard afterwards, and it was bloody.
Junipher Greene today are the same musicians as 40 years ago, except for Helge Groslie, who got ill some years ago. Jon WIlly Rydningen has stepped in on his place, and he does a splendid job. The other members of the band are Freddy Dahl, vocal and guitar, Bent Aaserud, gutar and flute, Geir Boehren, drums and vocal, plus Oyvind Vilbo on bass and vocal. All of them are still active as musicians or in the music business, and that is quite obvious when you see them on stage.
Yesterday night was so far the best gig I have seen of the three I have attended the last three years. They seemed even more comfortable on stage, and they were less controlled than before. Specially Bent Aaserud let himself loose this night, and showed us some really good playing. Their playing is excellent, and it is always a pleasure to her their songs live.
What everyone is waiting for, is the Friendship suite. The suite fills the second LP of Friendship, and is definitely their claim to fame. It starts with their best song, Prelude: Take The Road Across The Bridge. This song is still one of my all time favourites. The rest of the suite is good, with the beautiful title song opening and closing the suite.
Before the Friendship suite, the band played some of their other songs. Not all of them have survived 40 years of music, but the best, like Sunrise/Sunset and Music For Our Children still sound good. In between the songs, the band members, lead by Geir Boehren tells short anecdotes about the songs. For instance the story behind one of their songs, where their producer didn’t understand the lyrics, so they changed the name of the song to A Spectre Is Haunting The Peninsula, as if that title is more understandable.
The audience at the concert was an interesting mix of 60 year olds who grew up with the band, and younger people who probably have heard them from their parents, or who might have found them themselves. It isn’t often I go to concerts with such an age span. I hope they don’t give up what looks like the start of a tradition, that every year they will do a concert in January February. I will certainly come back for them in 2014.
You can see more pictures of Juniphere Greene from this concert and the two preceding years at my picture site, Artist Pictures.