9th October 2018
The Vulkan Arena, Oslo
Am no great fan of Irish band Kodaline I have to say. But Wife is, and tickets to this Oslo gig (plus flights) was Son's joint birthday present to the pair of us. Which I felt was really rather generous of him.
Wife and I had visited Oslo as part of a three-week touring trip around Scandinavia, back in the sweltering summer of '95 - just a few months before Son was conceived, when I think about it. So perhaps there was a sort of symmetry going on here.
Aware of how pricey Norway can be, back in the day we took an escort van packed to the proverbial gunnels with provisions for the trip, so were never really exposed to the silliness of Oslo prices. No such foresight this time around, and a single course meal with a non-alcoholic home-made lemonade each, mugged us of the best part of £82.
Hence the reason, the following evening, a middle-aged couple could be found sitting outside the gig venue waiting patiently for the doors to open, eating supermarket sandwiches as their main meal of the day. The concert was held in The Vulkan Arena; a slightly grandiose sounding name for what was but a functional (yet perfectly adequate) exhibition hall, which could hold around 700 folks. And it looked full this evening.
I had listened to Kodalines' new album Politics of Living beforehand and, like their previous two releases, had found the collection to house a clutch of really likeable songs (Worth It, Head Held High, Temple Bar), regretfully surrounded by a welter of anodyne compositions, devoid of hooks or memorable lines.
Follow Your Fire, the strong (despite its syrupy lyrics) lead-off tune from the new album started proceedings, and the band were bold enough to swiftly lay down a couple of early trump cards in Brand New Day and Ready. But thereafter things, to these wrinkly ears anyway, dipped more than a touch, as a procession of meticulously-crafted and faultlessly-performed chunks of formulaic pop-rock wandered past. The nadir being reached with an insipid glop of goo entitled The One; the lyric of which had my toes curling in embarrassment.
And thus did much of the evening pass; although to be fair, the live rendition of Head Held High bounded along with even more vim and vigour than the studio version.
Towards the end of the set Raging, a cover of a tune by Norwegian DJ/Producer Kygo, predictably had the Olsovians raising the roof, but it was only with the final three songs of the evening that the quality control was elevated once more. And even I have to acknowledge both Love Will Set You Free and High Hopes are quality, quality pop.
|Support act was Ryan McMullan|
|Kodaline - Oslo, October 2018|
Part of the problem with Kodaline live I feel is front man Steve Garrigan who, although clearly a fine singer and a talented musician, does appear to have undergone a personality-ectomy at some point in his life. His crowd interaction appeared pretty much word for word (with the word “Oslo” replacing “Glasgow”) identical to when Son and I saw the band three years back. Garrigan endlessly enquiring of the audience: “How you doing?”, before thanking us all for coming to “check us out”.
I do appreciate the cool, aloof rock star is a well-known archetype, but it can be taken to extremes.
Son, who is a huge fan of the band recently won an invite to an album-launch intimate gig in Edinburgh. He was initially disappointed not to be invited to meet the band afterwards, but was delighted to bump to Garrigan in the street when leaving. The singer politely acceded to his and Daughter's requests for a photo, but with hardly what could be termed good grace.
In the pic with Daughter, the look of apparent fury on his face suggested he would quite happily have murdered and then ritually dismembered these two young individuals who just to so happen to help pay his mortgage. But then again, perhaps, this is just his normal photo-face.
|Proof positive that Mr Garrigan can smile occasionally.|
|Kodaline - Oslo, October 2018|
Follow Your Fire
Brand New Day
Shed a Tear
Head Held High
I Wouldn't Be
Love Like This
Love Will Set You Free
All I Want
We had two days in Oslo which Wife and I used to the full to visit places like The Fram (Amundsen's ship) Museum and The Nobel Peace Prize Centre. But the highlight was a return trip to Frogland Park, site of the Vigeland Installation.
Gustav Vigeland was a Norwegian-born sculptor who in 1924 was presented with a studio by the city of Oslo, and left to pretty much get along producing anything he wanted. Much his time was spent sculpting busts of the great and the good of Norwegian culture, but by far his greatest obsession appears to have been the naked human form in all its many forms and guises.
The results of much of his labours may now been seen in Frogland Park, wherein have been placed bewildering array of oddly posed, yet curiously asexual, naked statues. The centrepiece of the installation is The Monolith, a 17 metre tall granite pillar consisting of 121 writhing naked bodies, and is probably one of the most visually arresting pieces of art to be found in the whole of Europe.
Footage from our 1995 trip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuutOELHono
|....nope, no idea.....|
|The Monolith, Frogner Park, Oslo.|
|The base of The Monolith.|
|As you can probably tell from the vastly impoved quailty of the photograph (and weather), I did not take this pic, I "borrowed" it from Wikipedia Commons - |
Credit to L Shyamal