From the late 80’s and the 90’s, we had the “Four Greats” in Norway, four rock bands that were hugely popular and where all the lyrics were in Norwegian. DeLillos, Dum Dum Boys, Raga Rockers and Jokke og Valentinerne had great sales and held sold out concerts around the country. Up until then there was little honor among rock bands and audiences in singing in Norwegian, that was reserved for the slightly inferior folks songs and dance hall music. This week and next deLillos celebrate 30 years since their debut by playing through all their albums, with one concert every day for 10 days.
DeLillos were the first of these bands to get success. Their debut album, Suser avgårde (Speeding ahead) came in 1986. It sold well, and two of the songs, Min beibi dro avsted (My baby went away) and Tøff i pyjamas (Tough in pajamas) have become household songs in Norway. Their next album, Før var det morsomt med sne (It was fun with snow before) from 1987, strengthened the impression of their lyrics as naivistic, sometimes slightly absurd and also a little bit surrealistic, wrtten in conservative Norwegian.
Lars Fredrik Beckstrøm
Their third album, Hjernen er alene (The brain is alone) from 1989 stands out as one of their classic albums. The title song is a standard on all their concerts, with the audience singing along. In 1994 the heavy metal band Seigmen released a cover version of Hjernen er alene, giving the song and deLillos extra credits. Their first #1 album, Neste sommer (Next summer), was released in 1993, and the title song again quickly became the ultimate summer song in Norway, and still is.
This Wednesday was the start of the deLillos marathon, where they started playing their albums from start to end. I attended yesterday, where Neste sommer and the 1997 album, Stakkars were performed. This album also had a different sound from the former albums, in being more electric than before. Up until then the band had been a trio, but the album marked the debut of guitarist Lars Lundevall, who added some very good guitar work to the band.
DeLillos have had three different drummers through the years. First Øystein Jevanord for a short period, then Rune Lindstrøm for some years, and then Øystein Paasche from 1989 to 2005, when Rune Lindstrøm came back to the band. In 2013 Paasche was back again, and he was also the drummer yesterday. The singer and main songwriter in the band Lars Lillo-Stenberg, has been there since the start, together with bassist and songwriter Lars Fredrik Beckstrøm.
For the concert series, they have booked RIksscenen in Oslo, a venue with a capacity of around 400. The stage was decorated as a small town exterior, with a clothesline and house façades at the back. SInce this was the fourth day of concerts, the sound and light was perfect from the start. Everything else worked perfect, and the band played just as good as we have been expecting them to. The last time I saw them was at the Øya Festival in August, a concert that was broadcast this weekend at NRK2 in Norway.
DeLillos’ stage show is in many ways more like many of today’s indie bands than what we consider rock band shows. They don’t do much extra, they play the songs, doing some fine harmony singing behind Lars Lillo-Stenberg’s high pitched and very characteristic voice. But with songs like Kokken Tor (The cook Thor), Neste Sommer, and all the other songs, they don’t need much extra effects.
The fans don’t complain about the lack of an extravagant stage show, either. The venue was sold out with a majority of hardcore fans who were singing along from the first song. Many of the fans had seen all the preceding concerts, and I am not surprised if a good number of them will see all ten concerts. If you haven’t seen them before, you will enjoy this TV program shown on NRK in 1996, celebrating their first ten years. I will update this articles if more of NRK’s deLillos archives are being released for streaming.
All photos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.