For twenty years Månefestivalen has been arranged in Gamlebyen in Fredrikstad, some 70 miles south of Oslo in Norway. The venue is an open place in the old town, dating back to 1567. Behind the concert venue is a beautiful garden where people sit around drinking and eating between the concerts. Yesterday’s concerts were a gift from OBOS to the city and people of Fredrikstad. (Photo above: Morten Abel)
OBOS på Månen is a night with concerts the day before Månefestivalen, where the tickets are cheap and where OBOS pay all the expenses for the bands. The surplus, around $42000, goes to cultural projects in Fredrikstad. OBOS is a housing society in Oslo, the biggest one in Norway, which also has expanded to other parts of the country, and this is a nice way of giving back to the communities, and also getting some good promotion for themselves.
The venue was sold out with around 3500 people. The night started with the EKKO-koret, a choir whose members have different kinds of challenges. They held a half hour concert, and it was a really nice touch to have them as the opener for the night.
First out of the other artists was Adam Douglas. He is originally from Oklahoma and spent his early years there, in Chicago and Minneapolis before moving to Norway. I remember seeing him with his then band Red Hot some ten years ago, and also that I was impressed by his voice and his tight guitar playing. In 2016 he won the Baltic Song Contest in Karlstad, Sweden in 2016, and in 2017 he won Stjernekamp, an artist contest at NRK 1, the Norwegian public TV station.
Adam Douglas’ music is based on blues and rhythm ‘n’ blues with a funky touch. If I should compare him to another artist, it must be an extrovert version of John Mayer. Douglas’ guitar playing is rhythmic tight, with elegant licks and understated solos. His voice is strong with full control over hard and soft phrasings. Listen to I Can’t Do This from his album that is released this year and you will hear his great voice. The crowd loved him in the sun.
Next out was Christel Alsos. She started her career in a TV show in 2004, 20 years old, and was signed to Sony BMG. Her first album, Closing the Distance was a hit and she has released four albums after this. This years she has started to release new songs, which signals that a new album should be on its way. On her website you will find links to her songs and some videos that show her excellence.
My first concert with Christel Alsos was at Bergen Fest in 2007, and the same year she was part of a singer songwriter project that NRK P1 and Danish Radio had, putting songwriting artists from both countries together to make a concert. This resulted in a tour in both countries and also one of the concerts was recorded for radio and broadcast in both countries. Since then I haven’t heard her live until she sang at the tribute concert to Leonard Cohen at Oslo Spektrum in April 2017. Her voice is one of my definitive favorites, and she has a way of phrasing that is unique. Her songs are laid back, understated and often sad.
Last out this night was Morten Abel. He is a veteran on the Norwegian pop scene, having started his career with Mods in 80’s, before breaking through with September When in the 90’s and going solo after that. Morten Abel has a way of writing catchy songs in pop format, being it Tore Tang with Mods, Bullet Me with September When or Tulipz and Be My Lover as a solo artist.
Every time I see Morten Abel live I am impressed by his energy, his delivery of the songs and his professionalism towards the crowd. He doesn’t say much, but he is moving around the stage like an athlete, doing small jumps, kicking out, smiling at the crowd and giving them a good show. And when his band is excellent and follow him all the way, and almost all of his songs are known to the crowd, however young or old, he shows that he is a worthy headliner for this day.
All photos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.
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