Time for another festival in Norway! Kristiansand, Norway’s “summer city”, is the perfect place for a summer festival – a great and easy to reach location, a huge potential audience, and of course lots of sun in the summer time! Starting in the nineties already, Kristiansand hosted Quartfestivalen, which featured huge international bands. After quite a few financial problems, Quart had to close down, and now the slightly smaller Odderøya Live festival took over.
This festival isn’t necessarily aimed at drawing lots of people from other cities or even from abroad – most acts are Norwegian (or at least Scandinavian) and play a wide variety of music, basically everything that is popular and on the radio. John Fogerty (Creedance Clearwater Revival), Kaizers Orchestra and Roxette as headliners – that covers quite a bit of ground! As a result, the festival audience is very heterogeneous; and on average quite a bit older than at other festivals. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing… =;-)
I had been to Kristiansand and Odderøya, the location of the festival, once before. What I remembered about the island (or rather peninsula) was that it was huge, long ways to walk to get anywhere, quite far to even get there. Hmm… I must have been tired the day I went for a walk there. =;-) Actually, the festival is just a few minutes walk from the city center, out in the green, in beautiful surroundings and with a view towards the sea. My first impression of the festival was very positive: a fairly big, square area with lots of space, slanting down towards the stage – which means that no matter where you are standing, you have a great view. Except for the hall hosting the bar and the toilets and a few meters in front of it, there’s only grass and gravel though… great for sitting, but let’s hope it doesn’t rain. =;-)
The first artist of the festival was Sordal. According to the information in the program, he has been playing in lots of very different bands ranging from prog rock and Norwegian pop to electronica – and you could hear that. While you could probably classify all his songs as “pop rock”, they were very varied. A very nice start into the festival!
Next up was Daniel Norgren from Sweden. He was advertised as “a mixture between Mississippi blues/country and Swedish forests” – hmm, okay? Sounds interesting. And it was! Daniel sang and played guitar and drums (at the same time of course) and was accompanied by stand-up bass and organ. His performance reminded me a bit of Jarle Bernhoft’s solo gigs – not necessarily considering the musical style, but from the way he presented himself on stage. Very enigmatic and enthusiastic; it showed how much he enjoys playing music.
Both bands were perfect warm-ups for the evening. The area slowly started to fill up – very slowly though, I guess most people were planning to arrive in time for Raga Rockers. However, those who were there already were sitting on the ground, enjoying the music and relaxing in the sun.
Yes, there was sun! Even though the weather forecast hadn’t been the best, there was no rain and the sun came out in the afternoon. The perfect conditions for a festival!
When it was time for Raga Rockers, it had filled up quite a bit – still far from full, but a good crowd. I was suprised, however, that most people were still stitting down – I mean, Raga Rockers is a rock band! If you’re not into Norwegian music, you probably don’t know them, but they are one of the “big four” of Norwegian music and have quite a cult status. And rightly so! Their songs are very catchy, and you have to stand and dance and jump around to enjoy them… =;-)
However, I got to admit that I was a bit disappointed by their concert. The setlist was good, the music was great, the sound was pretty bad in the beginning but got better – but I was missing the energy on stage. OK, the band members aren’t the youngest anymore, and this might be their last tour. However, they were barely moving on stage, which killed the atmosphere in my opinion. It didn’t reflect in the music, fortunately, so when you closed your eyes the concert was just as captivating as I had expected, but I really would have hoped to see that on stage as well. A bit of a pity! But still great to get to see them. The audience got more and more into it throughout the concert – by the last few songs, most people were on their feet and singing along, so Raga Rockers managed to capture the audience without even moving. =;-) That’s a bit of a feat to accomplish as well!
Headliner of the night was John Fogerty. Honestly, I had never heard that name before the festival, but of course I had heard the name Creedance Clearwater Revival – and that is basically John Fogerty. So I expected an old-style rock’n’roll concert, and that’s just what we got! He came on 20 minutes late, but played almost two hours. And only hits in the end, of course!
There was quite a crowd by the time John Fogerty came on – maybe not quite sold out, but a huge audience. As expected, the average age was a bit higher than at other festivals; no wonder considering the headliner. But there were quite a few younger people in the audience as well, and both young and old were enjoying the show and singing along loudly. The few rain drops in the middle of the set couldn’t ruin the atmosphere, and this concert was clearly the highlight of the first day.
The program of the second day was completely different from the one of the first day. Aimed at a much younger audience, we got a “radio hits day” today. At first, it looked like nobody was interested in the first act of the day – by the time Gabrielle was supposed to start, the area was entirely empty. However, it turned out that she had arrived late, so the start of the concert had to be moved back a bit, and the doors hadn’t opened yet.
Once the first people started coming in, it filled up really nicely, and as expected, the audience was a lot younger. The first row was filled entirely by teenagers. Behind them, everyone was enjoying a nice start into the festival, again relaxing in the sun and listening intently.
Gabrielle came on about 20 minutes late. She got a few radio hits in Norway, and the audience seemed very positive about her show. Norwegian pop, accompanied by two keyboards and drums, and a great voice. A nice way to start into the festival!
Next up was LidoLido. Again, clearly aimed at a younger audience – he’s a rapper, with a full backing band. LidoLido himself is fairly young and seemed like a really likeable guy. He also included some “citations” of well-known international songs into his show, and it seemed like he managed to convince not only the kids that had gathered in front of the stage, but also the rest of the crowd that was still enjoying the sun. My only criticism: too much bass. But as LidoLido pointed out, you can never have enough bass, so I guess that was intended. =;-)
Obviously, not only the audience was quite a bit younger today compared to yesterday – also the average age on stage was much lower. The next band on stage was Honningbarna – young guys (actually from Kristiansand!) playing punk music, who got hugely popular in Norway during the last two years. And rightfully so! I hadn’t managed to see them live yet, I had just heard they were quite a rip-off of Skambankt, another Norwegian band. And yep, in a way that is true, but they do add their own elements to the music. The singer plays a cello during some songs, and while his singing might not be the best, he brings the lyrics across. In addition, everyone is always in motion; lots of energy on stage, which is great to watch! They had their own little fanclub gathered in front of the stage, who were really into the concert and were singing along enthusiastically. Add constant “Barna! Barna!” choirs to that and you have an amazing show!
Yesterday, after the Raga Rockers concert, I posted on Facebook: “Let’s start a band and play Raga Rockers songs the way they should be played!” Guess I was late with my idea… Honningbarna ended their set with “Noen å håte”, THE Raga Rockers song, and they performed it in the way I would have expected it to be presented yesterday. Both thumbs up for Honningbarna!
Next it was time for Jarle Bernhoft. I knew him because he warmed up for Kaizers Orchestra on their last European tour – back then he was playing solo, all alone on stage, imitating all instruments by himself. This time, he was playing with his band – an 11-piece orchestra. Very impressive, especially with the lights and theatralic backdrop. All in all, it was completely different than what I knew of him; actually, I hardly recognized some of his songs. But it was great, and the audience loved it! Pure pop, but with a full band, with background singers and brass… revue style. Totally different from all the other concerts so far on the festival.
A lot of people in the audience regarded Bernhoft as the headliner of the night – but I assume they were convinced by the REAL headliner, Kaizers Orchestra. As always, they delivered a captivating show, playing their hits and some special extras, and really getting the audience involved. When they played their biggest hit Hjerteknuser, everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) was waving their hands in the air… beautiful! Read the full report of the Kaizers concert on kaizers.konzertjunkie.com.
Hmm… I might be repeating myself, but the third day started just like the other days: with clear blue sky, bright sunshine, and everyone sitting in the grass, enjoying the music. Just perfect! =:-)
The first artist on stage was Hanne Kolstø. Switching between guitar, keyboard, and tambourine, using samples and loops, accompanied just by one guy on guitar and keyboards, she delivered a great show. She definitely managed to captivate everyone who had made it to the festival grounds already, just by her presence on stage. In the beginning it was still rather empty, but Hanne quickly found out that everyone in the front was there to see Roxette, the headliner of the night. They were from Spain and Germany – and since Hanne didn’t want to leave them out, she started talking in Norwegian and English between the songs, until she got an OK from the Norwegians to continue in English only. =;-) One example of how she made the audience relate to her – she really had a wonderful presence on stage, very likable.
I don’t want to continue with “in contrary to the next artist”, this would be mean. But unfortunately, it’s not that far off. Bertine Zetlitz played professional pop, with a full band, which was nice to listen to – but compared to Hanne Kolstø, she seemed like a bit of a “diva”. I guess that would have been different if she hadn’t played in exactly this slot. But she did, and it seemed like the audience enjoyed her show, but it was much more distant and professional than Kolstø’s show right before. At the end of her set, she tried to make the audience sing along, which worked so-so. But then, people were surprised when she suddenly went off, without even announcing her last song. A professional show, but with less heart than other artists, unfortunately…
Next it was time for another Norwegian “cult” band, namely CC Cowboys. Their disadvantage was that they didn’t really fit into the program of the day – they would have fit perfectly into the first day with Raga Rockers and John Fogerty. Since today was more of a “pop” day, they had a hard time, especially in the beginning. Also, they started off rather slow. Not sure if those were new songs that the audience didn’t know (I didn’t) or if they just decided to start it calmly and then build it up… but the first half of the concert didn’t really catch on. After that, however, they brought on all their hits and the audience got more and more excited. In the end, everyone was singing along and dancing, just the way it’s got to be!
A last break before the final headliner: Roxette! I had been looking forward to their show, but mostly because they are a band of my childhood. I didn’t really expect much, but I thought it would be cool to get to hear all the old songs again. And what can I say? I was totally flashed! Actually, I still knew the lyrics of most songs by heart, and it was incredibly nice to hear them live. The show was energetic – even though Marie’s illness is very obvious and she hardly moved on stage. Per and the rest of the band took care of that part. Her voice, however, was in great shape! They concluded the concert with Joyride, Listen to your heart and The Look, giant water balloons in the audience, and lots of energy on stage. Awesome!
The only downside to this last concert was the audience – while on the other days, most people were at the festival to enjoy the concerts, it seemed that this time the majority was there for the party and didn’t even care about the concert. They sang along during the most well-known songs, but apart from that, it was hard to enjoy the concert between all the talking and all the drunk people falling around. A pity! But fortunately, this was the only day this was noticeable this badly. And the great concert absolutely made up for it!
All in all, Odderøya Live turned out to be a great festival. The whole organization of the festival was very professional, and everything was taken care of. The location is perfect – of course the weather played along, it might have been different with rain. But the way it was, it was a perfect summer festival.
Beforehand, it seemed a bit like the organizers were doubtful about the presales and about how many people would actually show up. They ended up with probably about 6000 a day, which is a great number! The atmosphere was great throughout the whole festival: During the days, everything was relaxed – sunshine, beer and music – and at night, there were amazing concerts and a crowd that was mostly into what was happening on stage. Thus the perfect mixture. Thanks Odderøya Live, see you next year! =:-D
The festival season is right around the corner! I didn’t write much about this year’s festivals yet, but that doesn’t mean that this summer will be boring concertwise. Oh no, not at all!
As always, there are lots of big and small festivals taking place in Norway. And as a rough estimate, you can probably say that all those festivals that did not have Kaizers Orchestra as headliner last year have them this year. =;-) Being the huge Kaizers fan that I am, of course I pick my festivals according to where Kaizers are playing. And for me, the most important factor when deciding which of the festivals to attend is not the location – it can be worth traveling to the middle of nowhere for an amazing festival – but the rest of the line-up. You want to have a great time on all days, not only the one when Kaizers are playing, right?
So this time, the choice was really easy: Odderøya Live in Kristiansand! The line-up speaks for itself: The first day of the festival features, amongst others, Raga Rockers from Norway and John Fogerty from the US. You might not know Raga Rockers when you are not into Norwegian music – but you miss out on something! Having been around for 30 years now, they are an “institution” in Norway. However, this will be their last tour; another reason not to miss their concert! For sure, Raga Rockers and John Fogerty will provide a great opening day for the festival.
Day two has, amongst others, Honningbarna, Jarle Bernhoft, and Kaizers Orchestra. Honningbarna is a young Norwegian punk rock band that has really taken off the last two years. Similarly Jarle Bernhoft – no, not regarding the “punk rock” part, but he also made it big in 2011, even being elected the “Spellemann” of the year, which is one of the highest music awards in Norway. And then there’s Kaizers Orchestra as headliner – a guarantee for a great concert with everyone in the audience singing along every single line of every song.
Last but not least, day three offers concerts by CC Cowboys and Roxette, and some more of course. CC Cowboys is another band that every Norwegian knows and loves. I saw them at a festival a couple of years ago, didn’t know any of their songs, and was captivated right away because they just manage to drag you along, even if you don’t know them. Amazing! This time, I know their songs, so I’m really looking forward to their show. I guess I don’t need to introduce Roxette – everyone knows their old hits, and they also have a new album out now, so I guess we’ll get a nice mixture of old and new.
So, thumbs up for this amazing line-up! And if that is not enough to convince you to pay Odderøya Live a visit – how about the location? The festival takes place in Kristiansand, in walking distance to the city center, so you can enjoy the city life and a festival at the same time. And all of this in the middle of July, where the chances that the weather will play along are highest. You might even be able to visit the beach before walking out to the festival for the night!
Getting to Kristiansand is easy – if you’re coming from abroad, you can fly directly to Kristiansand, or take the ferry from Hirtshals. Kristiansand is also on the train line from Oslo to Stavanger. There’s lots of hotel accommodation available, and in general, Kristiansand is worth a visit, especially in summer.
The ticket price for a festival pass is about 1500 NOK – this might seem a lot to Europeans, but for Norwegian standards, that is a very fair price. And well worth the money! There are also day passes available.