2014 has been a great live music year for me, and hopefully for the rest of you, too. Here is the list with the rest of my best concerts this year, from #17 to #1. As such a list will never be exact science, my disclaimer has to be that all the concerts were good, but that the list reflects a mix of the performance, how much I like the music, and, of course, also the visual aspects. (Picture above: The audience to John Mayer at Bergen Fest)
17 Order at Club Progresja in Warszaw
In June I held a photo exhibition, Norwegian Metal in Concert, at the Club Progresja in Warszaw, courtesy of the Norwegian Embassy in Poland. As part of the event, the Norwegian band Ord, with founding members from Mayhem and Cadaver, played a concert at the club. Without anyone knowing it, this was also to be the last concert for bassist Rene Jansen, who died in December this year. Peace be with him.
16 John Mayer at Bergen Fest
John Mayer has become a super star during his 13-14 year career. This summer he headlined at Bergen fest, and I enjoyed the concert immensely. Not because of the action or his extrovert show, on the contrary. He let the songs speak for themselves without much effects.
15 Jarle Bernhoft at Sentrum Scene
Jarle Bernhoft is one of our best pop music artists in Norway. He has also had some success in the USA with his solo show, where he plays with himself using loop pedals. He also has a band, and in September I saw him with a full band at Sentrum Scene in Oslo. Jarle is a 100% entertainer, he writes great songs and has one of the best and most versatile voices that I know of.
14 Never The Bride at Blues in Hell
I didn’t know much about Never The Bride before I saw them, and some of my friends in the audience didn’t think they should be on the schedule for a blues festival. But these two women, past their first youth, but still with more energy than many 20 years younger than them, made my day. Good songs, a great show, and a brilliant band with a female violinist that really shined.
13 Heavy Gentleman at Rockefeller
In the 80’s and 90’s we had a kind of super group in Oslo, called Heavy Gentlemen. Central in the band was drummer Paolo Vinaccia, and in April they held a comeback concert to celebrate Paolo’s 60 year birthday. And what a party they held! All the different musicians who played with the band, plus some friends of the band were on stage, and Paolo played with all of them. He is an amazing drummer, having played both jazz and rock, and he is also an excellent producer.
12 Marianne Faithfull at Sentrum Scene
This autumn Marianne Faithfull visited Oslo on her tour to promote her new CD, Give My Love To London. Marianne Faithfull is a lady with a 50 year career, starting with As Tears Go By in 1965, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richard. There have been many scandals surrounding Faithfull, but in recent years, she has released some very good albums, and also held many good concerts. The one at Sentrum Scne is one of them, and her witty British humor and her raspy voice fit well with her songs.
11 St. Vincent at the Pstereo Festival in Trondheim
St. Vincent is Annie Erin Clark‘s artist name, and the concert at Pstereo was my second chance of hearing her play live. She was also featured as a keynote speaker at SXSW this year, meaning her career is going really well. St. Vincent does not take any short cuts towards success, but she relies on her artistic visions, and we the audience are lucky to be a part of them.
10 Robert Plant at Bergen Fest
What can you say about Robert Plant that hasn’t been said before? I can say that since I saw him live for the first time in the late 90’s, I think he has become better and better. He might not have the same high register in his voice as in his heydays with Led Zeppelin, but he has that impeccable timing when he sings, and he still has the ability to go from a soft voice and explode into a scream. The concert in Bergen was with a full band, lead by his long time musical companion Julian Adams.
9 Ida Jenshus at Trondheim Play
Trondheim Play is a new one day festival that was held the same weekend as the Blues in Hell festival, and among the many artists from the county of Trøndelag were Ida Jenshus. She has had a fantastic career so far, winning a Norwegian Grammy for each of her three albums. This year she released no. 4, and she is nominated this time, too. Ida has been compared to Emmylou Harris, but lately she as gone her own way, daring to experiment more in her songwriting and also to draw out the songs much more than usual these days. At the concert she did one of her new songs, and I am looking forward to how far she can go.
8 Nils Petter Molvær at Nattjazz in Bergen
Nils Petter Molvær got international fame with his album Khmer in the late 90’s, combining his trumpet with electronica in a style that reminds me of what Miles Davis did with Bitches Brew. Molvær has kept up with his very personal style, and in his newest band he has included Geir Sundstøl on steel guitar and banjo. The “worst thing” is that it sounded great, the combination of Molvær’s trumpet, digitally transformed with loops, a drummer, bassist and steel guitar is a sound I really liked.
7 Dance With A Stranger at Aasgaardstrand
Aasgaardstrand is one of the places where Edvard Munch painted some of his most famous pictures. Every year for some years they have ad a small festival, and this year they expanded it with an out door stage dawn by the sea, and with Dance With A Stranger as the main attraction. It worked well, more than 1000 people showed up, and the band, which were on their definite farewell tour, did a fantastic job. DWAS was one of our most popular bands in the late 80’s, and there songs are still played a lot on radio. I have seen the band members in different other constellations the last 20 years, but never before as the original band. I am glad I went to Aasgaardstrand that night.
6 Svartlamon Hardkor at Verkstedhallen in Trondheim
Svartlamon Hardkor is a male choir who sing everything from Mozart to choir arrangement for punk songs. They are the antithesis of a church choir, often performing with a glass of beer or two. The surprising thing is that they sound quite good, and at the concert I saw, which was their 10th anniversary concert, they did a both musically good, but also a hilarious version of four of the parts from Mozart’s Requiem, accompanied by electric guitar, tuba, trombone, banjo and percussion.
5 Highasakite at Blæst in Trondheim
Highasakite have had lots of success this year, playing many big festivals and getting great reviews for their newest CD Silent Treatment. I saw them several times this year, but my favorite was the concert at Blæst in Trondheim in February. Blæst is an intimate venue, and with their expressive songs and Ingrid Håvik’s voice, it was a concert to remember.
4 Gojira at the Oya festival
Gojira is the best known metal band from France, and they have visited Norway several times. The concert at Oya this year was my third time seeing them, and I was even more impressed than the last time with their fantastic timing and precision. Their music is rock hard, and their performance is more extrovert than many of the other black metal bands.
3 Dimmu Borgir at the Inferno Festival in Oslo
Dimmu Borgir have been one of my top favorite black metal bands since the first time I saw them live in 2007. They don’t do many concerts in Norway, but they were the headliner the first day of the Inferno festival this year. As usual they had a grand backdrop, and the show was excellent. I like their music a lot, black metal roots mixed with a symphonic form, and they are tight and with some really good musicianship.
2 Biffy Clyro at the Pstereo festival
Biffy Clyro has always been a good live band, and I have been impressed all the times I have seen them. This year they headlined at the Pstereo festival, and did another amazing show. They have never moved me as much as recording artists as live, and specially Simon Neil is the ultimate live artist. He is up and down and everywhere, he sings and plays guitar, while bassist James Johnston does his part, jumping and kicking.
1 Ulf Lundell at Rockefeller
Ulf Lundell has been a music artist since the 70’s, also doubling as a successful novelist and lately as a painter. He is the consummate songwriter, and one of his songs, Öppna landskap (Open landscapes) has become the second Swedish national anthem. His music style is comparable to Bruce Springsteen, guitar-driven songs with lyrics that tell a story. The concert at Rockefeller in July was long, almost three hours. t was really hot inside when he started, and probably close to 100 F when he finally left the stage. The house was packed, and the audience were ecstatic, singing his songs with him the whole concert. Some times you feel like part of somethings bigger than yourself, and this night was one of them.
All pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.