While Wednesday had good weather at Bergen Fest – cloudy and not too cold – Thursday started out with rain and wind gusts from the morning, and it kept raining the whole day. The result was that the main stage couldn’t be used most of the night. The wind blew the rain in on the stage, so concerts had to be moved, and the opening act had to be cancelled. But the organizers at Bergen Fest are used to rain and did a thoroughly professional job. (Photo above: Thåström)
The audience before Father John Misty came on stage
Heavy rain, wind and expensive cameras is not a very good match. The same is rain and electric equipment in general, so the festival had to cancel George Ezra and move Father John Misty from the big stage to the second stage, resulting in him doing a duo concert instead of with his full band. Except for these two concerts, the rest of the day went as planned. But the rain and wind was really bad, and there were far fewer people at the venue than should have been. It also influenced which concerts I saw, and I felt sorry for the organizers, besides feeling too sorry for my own cold and wet self.
I started Thursday in the Magic Mirror tent with the Norwegian pop artist Anna of the North. I saw her the first time at the Norwegian Wood festival in Oslo last year and really liked her show then. Yesterday I could see she has got even more stage experience and she sings and performs with a natural ease that I definitely like. Her songs are good, and her two musicians didi a good job.
From Anna of the North I ventured to the Bastion stage and the rain to seeJoshua Tillman, or Father John Misty which is his stage name. I loved his performance at the Øya festival in Oslo three years ago, and I was a bit disappointed with the duo concert. Not his fault and I blame it on the conditions, but without a band he can’t be as free to do his half weird stage show that he showed us at Øya. Now he became one more singer songwriter, although an excellent one, with great songs and with pointed social commentary in between the songs. But I am looking forward to seeing him again with a full band where he can unfold all his artistry.
After Father John Misty I had the choice between Jason Isbell at the same stage and the indie, or goth pop band Pale Waves in the tent. I chose comfort over more wetness, even if I would have a better musical experience with Isbell. I love his music, but have seen him before, so because of this and the weather I chose Pale Waves who were also new to me. They were formed in Manchester in 2014 and have already got some international attention with their melodic pop. They also have a good front person in Heather Baron-Gracie.
Luckily the weather cleared a little bit up so the big stage could be used, and it stopped raining just before Thursday’s headliner Thåström went on stage. Thåström is one of Sweden’s rock icons with a career that started with Ebba Grön in the 70’s and is still going strong. His latest album, the excellent Centralmassivet, was released last year, and he did several of the songs from the album at the concert. I couldn’t see the whole concert because I wanted to see Anderson East in the tent half way through Thåström, but I will get a chance to see him again later this summer at Månefestivalen.
Thåström has a very strong and special stag appearance. He walks around on stage like a bull in the bullfighter ring, sizing up the microphone stand before he attacks it with his raspy voice. With his background from punk, Thåström has some of that attitude even if he isn’t that young anymore. I am already looking forward to see a whole concert with him.
The last act Thursday night was Anderson East in the tent. He is also a new artist to me, even if I have heard a lot of good about him. I might have seen him play with Holly Williams some years ago, though. Anderson East is from Athens Alabama and brought a full band with guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, trumpet and sax with him. He plays guitar and sings himself, and it is seldom I hear such a well tuned music machine. East’s music is rhythm ‘n’ blues and folk rock, and his voice is what someone explained to me “ridiculously good”.
On stage Anderson East is totally dedicated to his music. He gets the crowd to clap along on a couple of the songs, but doesn’t do much else. But with such a perfect musical performance, I never missed any of the antics that specially rhythm ‘n’ blues artists might come up with. But the crowd loved him and I talked to someone who had come all the way from Tromsø to see him. He also lets his band shine in an extended instrumental. And when he does Sam and Dave’s Hold On I’m Coming it sounds fresh, but still with respect to the original. Thåström and Anderson East was the perfect closing of a wet and miserable, but musically uplifting day.
All photos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.