Fredag 2.desember 2022
Madrugada are back in Oslo Spektrum for two nights, performing concerts that were originally scheduled for February 2022. After Oslo, the band will play several sold out gigs in Stavanger and Bergen. Norway Rock Magazine was there to check out the first night in Oslo at an almost full venue, a stark contrast to the last time the band played there, when only 1,500 were allowed due to Covid restrictions. The stage was quite full also, with seven people performing. Band members Jon Lauvland Pettersen (drums), Frode Jacobsen (bass) and Sivert Høyem (vocals and guitar) were joined by Cato «Salsa» Thomassen (guitar), Freddy Holm (fiddle, etc.), Christer Knutsen (keyboard), and Erland Dahlen (percussion). They were tightly knit throughout the set, providing a well-balanced wall of sound.
Høyem doesn’t speak much to the audience, but when he does it is warm, friendly and grateful. Before one of the early highlights, «Electric» from their debut album «Industrial Silence», he says it is fantastic to be back in Oslo, and the crowd return the affection with cheers. Then the venue is lit up with a sparkling disco ball, and dots of light roll across the crowd like stars. A special mention must be made of the lighting, which is often spectacular (and at other times just a simple red screen), and helps lift some of the more subdued, melancholy parts of the set.
An acoustic section mid set was well timed, particularly «Honey Bee» which saw just two musicians (Høyem and Cato) on acoustic guitars for the first part of the song. A little later, an enthralling performance of «Black Mambo» raised the roof. Høyem had removed his guitar and was just performing on his mic, free to move around the stage, which he does so well. He sat down on stage, near the front row, menacingly singing «Gonna knock you down with the liquour and love». There was an intense, chaotic but always controlled instrumental section towards the end. Large hands appeared on the video screen which almost looked like they were embracing the band. Høyem in turn embraced the front row by leaning down and singing in their faces.
The intensity kept up as the band launched into the fast paced «Salt», a song Nick Cave would be proud of. Høyem encouraged the crowd to clap along and they did, hard and enthusiastically. Next came «Strange Colour Blue», where Høyem pointed a torch over the crowd, and then he was back on acoustic guitar for a stunning performance of «Majesty», where Cato’s electric guitar duetted and danced around his vocals beautifully. The venue was suddenly full of raised phones. Then the band left the stage, and their name was displayed across the video screens.
The encore was long, with seven songs (a third of the 21 song set), including a duet with Ane Brun on «Lift Me». Brun and Høyem share a good on-stage chemistry, and Høyem was on his knees at the end of the song, bowing down before Brun. Some might have expected the concert to end there, but there was more, including a warm and richly toned performance of «Dreams at Midnight» from their latest album «Chimes At Midnight«.
The final three songs raised the gig to a higher level yet again. «Blood Shot Adult Commitment» showcased how tight the band is. Høyem wore a light reflective jacket and sang pristinely, as he did throughout the entire evening. He sounds just as good as he does on record, but he has more than just his vocals. He is also a fine frontman, despite not saying much between songs. During «Kids on the High Street» he gave the crowd everything he had, going down to the front row, holding their hands, and eventually crowd surfing on top of them. After that, he took the time to hug people in the front row.
And yet there was even more! A red sun slowly rose behind the band, silhouetting them during the last song, «Valley of Deception». The crowd waved their arms left and right along to the chorus, and there was a loud drum roll at the end. «Takk fra oss», Høyem exclaimed, before the band gathered together on stage and looked out at the crowd with smiles on their faces, taking it all in. Although it wasn’t at midnight, it was clear they did create dreams for a few hours before midnight. 5/6
Text and photography: Anne-Marie Forker