Thomas Dybdahl is one of a few Norwegian artists with an international following. He is also one of our best songwriters, and without writing typical hits. His most popular songs have become hits because of their inherent quality and complexity, not because of their obvious hit potential. In my book that gives many extra points. Combine this with a live performance that closely mimics the qualities from his recordings, and you have a recipe for a great experience. Last night he played at Sentrum Scene in Oslo.
Almost since he started his solo career in 2000, Thomas Dybdahl has played with the same musicians, more or less. This is notable in his live performances, the musicians know his songs, and play with feelings and with a fingerspitzgefühl that matches Dybdahl’s songs. I know few artists who works so much with dynamics in his songs, and this is an extra challenge in a live setting.
It is a pleasure to listen to his songs, where sometimes there is almost no sound at all, before he slowly builds up to a climax. What was even more impressive last night, was that the packed venue was totally quiet on these occasions. I rarely experience an audience like this, who listens and don’t talk during the songs.
Most of Thomas Dybdahl’s songs are low key, with a distinct melancholic feeling. The lyrics are mostly sad, and the melodies and arrangements have an introvert feeling, with few climaxes. On one song last night, Cecilia, he got the audience to participate – first the women, then everyone, building the song to it’s climax. I have to say this might have been the most beautiful audience choir I have heard at a concert.
The concert was a mix of songs from Thomas Dybdahl’s new CD, “What’s Left Is Forever”, released on Petroleum Records, and his previous five CDs. What’s Left Is Forever was released recently, and the first single from the CD, This Love Is Here To Stay is one of the most played songs on Norwegian radio. The CD is produced by Larry Klein and recorded at The Village in Los Angeles. Klein, who is Joni Mitchell’s ex husband and also her producer, has also co-written some of the songs on the CD.
His new songs are easily recognizable as Thomas Dybdahl songs, but at the same time they are more easily accessible than many of his earlier songs – with the exception of Cecilia and a few others. Besides writing and singing his songs, Thomas Dybdahl also contributes to the education of the audience. He does what he feels like, and doesn’t write songs primarily to become hits. Then it is even better when music like this becomes popular and sells well.
Here are the songs he played: “This Love Is Here To Stay”, “The World is my Oyster”, “Love Story”, “The Sculptor”, “I Just Can’t Bring Myself To Say The Words”, “Cecilia”, “U”, “It’s Always Been You”, “But We Did”, “Easy Tiger”, “One Day You’ll Dance For Me, New York”, “Man On A Wire”, “Tomorrow Stays The Same”, “From Grace”, “Party Like It’s 1929”, “Stay Home”, “Shine”.
All pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.