Summer in Norway is festival season. You can literally go to several festivals every week in different parts of the cuontry. In earlier years I have attended different festivals in July, and this year I wanted to check out Stavernfestivalen, located between the seaside towns of Stavern and Larvik two small hours south west of Oslo. (Photo above: Maria Mena)
The festival venue is a 9 hole golf court in beautiful surroundings. The area worked perfectly, with a large open field where the two main stages stood at opposite sides, and with the third stage on a smaller field up a small hill to the side of the main field. That way stage three could have concerts at the same time as stage 1 or 2, making it all more effective.
Stavernfestivalen is a typical bigger festival in Norway with a mix of genres, except harder rock, resulting in an audience in all ages, from teenagers to older people. This was most obvious on the opening day, where Neil Young was the headliner, and where the average age of the 10.000 plus crowd he started was closer to 50 than 30 years old. Mixing age groups like this was a good idea in my opinion, also avoiding problems with violence, drugs or too much drunkenness.
First out Thursday was Bjørn Eidsvåg. He is a much loved artist among the older part of the audience, but he also has lots of younger fans. His career has lasted for 40 years, and he still sell out big venues. The last time I saw him was at Oslo Spektrum last fall, with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (KORK). Since this was an early afternoon concert, the venue wasn’t full at the start, but Bjørn and his excellent musicians did a good job, and they had a big crowd at the end of the concert.
Next out, and now on stage 3 was Little Jinder from Sweden. She is the daughter of Åsa Jinder, Swedish riksspelemann (official national musician) on nyckelharpa, and has obviously inherited much of her mother’s musicality. She won a Swedish Grammy in 2015 for Pop of the Year, and she won the Swedish P3 Guld award this year. Her music is pop in Swedish, and she was quite popular with the younger crowd.
Violet Road is a folk rock band from the north of Norway, consisting of the four brothers Håkon, Hogne, Halvard and Herman Rundberg and their friend, Kjetil Holmstad-Solberg, who is also the main singer. I always get in good spirits when I see them, they have great songs and they perform them with great musical skills and with happy faces. Being brothers, the communication in the band is excellent, and they closed their concert with four extra drummes on stage.
Maria Mena is one of my favorite Norwegian singer songwriters. She has made some really beautiful songs, and she has a voice that fits her songs perfectly. It is more than ten years since I saw her the first time, and she has steadily improved from then. Her second singel, My Lullaby was released in 2002, when she was sixteen, and went gold in Norway. In 2010 she had a nr. 1 hit with Home for Christmas, still one of the best newer Christmas songs in my opinion. Maria Mena has a knack for writing beautiful bitter-sweet songs, and she performed many of these with her band Thursday at Stavern.
Next out, and my second to last act this first day at Stavernfestivalen was the Danish electronic indie pop artist MØ. The artist name is an acronym for Karen Marie Aagaard Ørsted Andersen. I have seen her a couple of times before, both at the Øya and the Pstereo festivals, and she always makes a good show, even if her music isn’t my favorite style.
The big headliner Thursday, and the reason that more than ten thousand people, a big portion of them over 50 years old, was Neil Young. You can read about his concert here.
The first day of Stavernfestivalen was a success. There were problems with the registration system and the data system, but this was solved during the night. The festival has worked with the logistics, and their bussing system worked perfectly. The logistics at the venue worked fine, too.
All photos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.