Sweden have had many big pop acts during the last 40 years, starting with ABBA and so far ending with Avicii. They also have and have had some really great rock acts like Ebba Grøn, Thåström, the younger Lars Winnerbäck and Håkan Hellström. And then they have Ulf Lundell. He has been around since the mid 70’s and is still going strong. Yesterday night he played for an almost sold out Rockefeller in Oslo.
Ulf Lundell is a rare artist, being both a novellist, a poet, a visual artist and a rock musician. He debuted in 1975 with his novel Jack, and also with his first LP, Vargmåne. Since then he has released 33 albums, many of them double or triple, 13 novels, contributed to numeral poetry anthologies, he has illustrated a book of Shakespeare sonnets, and he exhibits his paintings and drawings.
From the start of his career, Ulf Lundell was compared with artists like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, and in many aspects he resembles them. His sound is full, with three guitars, two keyboards, sax, bass and drums, not that different from The Boss and the E Street Band. But all comparisons are unjust, and Ulf Lundell is first and foremost Ulf Lundell.
The concert last night was a tour de force through his extensive catalogue. The audience looked like they grew up with Lundell, and they knew many of the songs by heart. His songs are long and he is a master storyteller. Judging the concert as a whole, I could not find anything wrong or boring, and specially the last hour he increased the tempo and energy until the end, almost three hours all in all.
Ulf Lundell’s band is tight, competent, and with mostly younger musicians, except for his long-time musical side-kick, Janne Bark. He presides as the musical maestro, which he has done for 32 years. The communication between Lundell and Bark is non-verbal, they know each other well. Many of the songs segue into the next one with no break in between, and the band follows all instructions from Lundell and Bark.
The temperature in Oslo last night was in the high 80’s, and Rockefeller doesn’t have any air conditioning. It was hot when the concert started, and three hours later it was even hotter. Ulf Lundell drank a lot of water, but at the end he just poured the water over his head. For the fans of Ulf Lundell it didn’t seem like the heat mattered at all, I saw many happy faces leaving Rockefeller.
All pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.