Månefestivalen started officially Friday, with Thursday’s OBOS på Månen as a kind of vorspiel. The festival is slightly alternative from many of the other festivals because they have a predominately Norwegian booking. And in 2014 they booked only female artists and bands with female members. On the first day of this year’s edition, Hanne Boel from Denmark was the only female and non-Norwegian artist. (Photo above: Hellbillies)
Friday July 27 was the hottest day of a summer which has already broken most of the heat records in Norway. With temperatures well ofer 90 F, and the sun shining straight at the stage, the presenter at the festival stressed the importance of drinking a lot of water. Luckily we can drink our tap water in most parts of Norway, and there were long lines to where you could fil up you bottle or your glass. Not that the fans didn’t drink beer, there were lines in front of the bars all day.
For many, Månefestivalen is more of a happening where you meet your friends and where the music isn’t the most important. This was most obvious with the first bands on Friday, but from Hanne Boel and out, the bands have dedicated fans and the space in front of the stage was packed.
First out on Friday was Jarle Bernhoft with his band The Fashion Bruises. Bernhoft started his career with the rock band Span, at the same time guest singing with the Køhn / Johansen Sextet before he alternated between solo concerts with a loop pedal and a bigger band. The last couple of years The fashion Bruises has been his regular band, and I heard them the first time in January 2016. Then again at the Notodden Blues festival last year.
The concert at Månefestivalen is so far the best concert I have seen with this band. Bernhoft is a fantastic singer with a versatile voice that sometimes reminds me of Prince, then he sings soul, rock, whatever. He has what seems like total control of his voice, with a big range, and at the same time full control of the dynamics. I have been a fan of Bernhoft since the first time I saw him live with Span. His songs are catchy, his band is super good and tight, and he plays his guitar, sings and dances in front.
After Bernhoft a local band, The Human Nature came on stage. They are an indie band from Fredrikstad which have just released their debut album, Kairos. The band was new to me, and after a slightly nervous start, they soon came into their routine and delivered a solid set.
Hanne Boel is one of the most successful Danish artists, with more than 2.5 million albums sold and a big following also in Norway. We became aware of Hanne Boel when she released her album Kinda Soul in 1992. Songs like Don’t know Much About Love and Starting All Over Again became solid radio hits in Norway.
Still, more than 25 years after, she attracts a big crowd, and she filled the space in front of the stage from her first song. Her songs are a mix of soul, pop and some rock, a little bit of Tina Turner, and with a solid band and a really groovy voice, this became a success for the crowd in the sun at Månefestivalen.
Knut Reiersrud has been the master of the blues guitar in Norway since the late 70’s when he was still a teenager. Her first band was the Swedish Norwegian blues band Four Roosters which released their debut album in 1982. After that he has released a number of solo albums, collaborations with the organist Iver Kleive and also performed with his own band. Knut Reiersrud plays guitars, oud, saz, and he has done some very interesting work with Arabic and African music.
The Knut Reiersrud Band is David Wallumrød on keys, Andreas Bye on drums, Bjørn Holm on bass and Knut Reiersrud and Bjørn Klakegg og guitar. At the concert the band played songs from their latest album, Heat, and also from earlier albums, like the song Voodoo Without Killing Chicken. The band comprises of many of my favorite musicians and except for some technical problems at the start, it was a flawless concert demonstrating that Knut Reiersrud is still the king of guitar.
The headliner this first night was Hellbillies, Norway’s best country rock band. They started out as more of a country band in the early 90’s, but have become more rock oriented the last couple of years. During the years they have released fifteen albums that all have sold well. They also usually sell out all their concerts and they have long been one of the best live bands in Norway.
Hellbillies are first of all founding members singer Aslag Haugen and his brother, guitar virtuoso Lars Håvard Haugen plus drummer Bjørn Gunnar Sando. Originally Arne Moslåtten on guitar and flutes Sandum on bass and Arne were members, but they retired from the band in 2013 and 2016. Today Egil Stemkens plays bass, and Lars Christian Narum has played keyboard since 2003.
A concert with Hellbilies is songs that the crowd know well performed with a lot of punch and also with many fine musical details. Guitarist Lars Håvard Haugen is Norway’s best country guitarist, and he is given a lot of space in the band. After Stemkens has become a member of the band, it seems to me that their sound has been harder, and I welcome that. They have also a highly professional staff and their sound and lights are perfect.
Except for some bruises on my knees and elbow from stumbling in the dark with all my photo and computer equipment, the first night was a perfect start of Månefestivalen 2018.
All phtos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.