12 Aug – Oyafestivalen
My title of this blog entry says it all, I suppose, but you know I aint gonna just leave it at that. There's a full review of it all coming up right here, right now.
And lets start with a whinge, to get it out the way. I feel for all the people who've been shafted and shunted and pissed about over flights these past few days. Cancelled flights and delayed flights are nasty at the best of times, but when you've got terrorists planning to blow up planes, it's a different matter. So yes, I agree that passengers are being really messed about, but please, I just wish that they'd give it rest about all the extra security. I mean please, how many white, English families are gonna carry a bomb with them onto a plane? Ridiculous. Surely it only makes sense to search a person if you think they look suspicious.
Having said that, getting through Stansted's security was actually rather smooth, which I suppose is a very good reflection of how the airports are gritting their teeth and bearing this with all their might.
We arrived at the airport VERY early. Considering we had a 6:50pm plane to fly on, we were there at 1:30pm. See, thing is, everyone else flying that afternoon had been told the same story - get there early. What that caused was a mass packing of people into the check-in area, a real sardines-in-tins job. We noticed our flight was on the board and NOT delayed, NOT cancelled. There were though, lots cancelled and delayed. Indeed, on the departure board, the two flights prior to ours were both cancelled and the two immediately after were delyaed and cancelled respectively. So we dropped in extremely lucky.
We spent some time in a bar in the airport just to kill some time. Successfully killed, we checked in, still sober ;), and sure as eggs is eggs, hand luggage was outlawed, meaning we had the joys of checking in our bags and taking a plaggy bag. Mind you, after that, it was all quite simple. The only other extra security measure that was in place, as far as I could tell, was a pat-down search at the security gate. Once through that, it was like any normal flight.
The flight was delayed a little bit, by some problem with air traffic control on the inbound flight, but it was only 10 minutes. Then came the flight, and what a flight. 1 hour and 45 minutes, flying with a rather strange sight - on one side of the plane, it was like looking into the black night sky, whilst on the other, it was brilliant sunlight. The reason that happened is beacsue the sun is low in the sky at that hour and heading North as we were, the Sun is visible for longer to the North, since it is our summertime. We also saw another plane whilst in the air, and that, according to Nick, is a rare sight.
Once below cloud, it was pretty much all dark, and the view over some of the Easterly Norweigen fjords in the dark look incredible. There were lights where towns and villages were, but it was so sparse and spread out. There were thousands of tiny islands, some uninhabited, and some looking like just lumps of rock sticking out from the Skaggerack. As we lowered towards ground, cars and houses were more visible, and again, they were very sparse.
Sandefjord airport, which is where we landed, was rather big actually. Bigger tha I thought it'd be. There was nowhere near the same security level at this end. Just a quick look at the passport and you were through, no bother. After getting re-acquainted with our bags on the carousel, we boarded the bus to Oslo. 96 minutes worth of Norweigen road, with stops at Dramman, Asker, Lysaker and Horvik. Most of the road was actually through tunnels, and when I say tunnels, i mean proper tunnels. They make any British tunnel look like a bridge. I think the longest one was something like 3.5km - and there were 13 of them.
Into Oslo after the stops and we hopped in a taxi to our very luxurious hotel. The Anker Hotel, right on the very edge of the city centre, and as we would discover, a short walk to Middelalderparken - scence of Oya :D. Mind you, the Oslo natives aren't right sharp if the hotel receptionist is anything to go by. We asked the quickest way to Oya...and he hadn't a clue where the park was. He eventually told us where to go, but we later discovered he was wrong, and what made it even funnier was that the place he told us it was at, on the map, was right next to Middelalderparken...and it quite clearly said "Middelalderparken" on the map! Blind, obviously.
A good nights kip was followed by a full Norweigen brekkie. Now - you can forget your full English, this was a meal not to be missed, this. It looked very much like what I would normally have for tea. Cheese, Beetroot, Haislet, Pepperoni, Hard boiled eggs, bread, Sausages, Saute potatoes, and a weird egg flavoured potato cake thing. Very very good and you ever go to Norway, eat this for brekkie. It's faberoo.
And so, to the main event. A short 15 minute walk to the park, punctuated by the odd picture-stop, culminated in our tickets being exchanged for armbands, and then we were in the queue...what queue?
At first, I thought this was gonna be a little festival, because the queue was small, and when the gates opened at 12am, hardly anyone was in the park. It was dead, totally. Anyway, that gave us time to locate the Sjosiden stage, the stage we required to see Marit, and get a pint and burger in. Burger by the way, i assume was beef, because the Norsk translation was Biff. Near enough.
Good quality beer too. Had three in total during the day. Still sober by the end of the day so it wasn't that strong. We nipped over to the Enga stage, which appeared to be the main one, since it was the only one that had a big screen and a mounted camara that swung from one side of the stage to the other. We decided to check out what was happening there, as Sjosiden didn't start whilst 2pm, and Enga started at 1pm. The first band on were called Knutsen & Ludvigsen. Nick described them as "Bill Gates and Les Battersby playing Foster and Allen music in Norweigen." <Insert witty comment here>.
Anyway, we headed back to Sjosiden for 2pm and the excellent opening act that was Susanna & The Magical Orchestra. Anyone who reads this blog religiously will know I gave a preview of each of the acts. I was really wrong with most of them, and this was no exception. I was expecting to see a full on orchestra, but no, instead, a keyboard playing man and a singing woman, playing cover versions of classics, like Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart, and Dolly Parton's Jolene. Very good, and they had all of the songs in their own unique style. All of them had been slowed down and stripped right to the bard bones. It was a weird performance to listen to, but a very good opening.
Next on were Darkside of the Force, who again I got wrong. I thought they were a Norsk rock band. Not a bit of it. They were actually a gangsta rap act, with their very own backing band. It was kind of like a cross between Dr Dre and Dirty Pretty Things. The rappers were mainly just two guys who looked like they were doing their best to impersonate Eminem. Naturally, Nick liked this act, he loves his rap and hip hop. I'm not as keen as we know, but these guys were pretty good. I dunno what nationality they were, but they spoke Norsk. Songs were in English though.
And on then to Les Savy Fav. And this one I GOT RIGHT! US rock band who pretty much played the same song over and over. Mind you, what this act lacked in musical creativity, they made up for in showmanship. The singer dude was crazy. First song, he brought a ladder out onto the stage and climbed down it into the wild (at this point anyway) crowd. He did all sorts of random shit in the crowd, like nicking a guys hat, and including the crowd in the songs by asking them for random shouts of "YAAAH". He ended up in the lake during the last song.
Anyway, away they went, and at that point, my heart started to do backflips over my lungs, somersaults around my ribcage and headstands through my oesophagus, as Marit Larsen's equipment was wheeled on stage. As expected, there were a LOT of instruments. Piano, Guitars, Banjo, Bass, Mandolin, Drums, Accordian, Cello, god knows what else. The amazing thing is, Marit can play everything that was on that stage, bar drums, even though she only plays mandolin, guitar and piano live.
Most of the instruments were on stage anyway, when I caught sight of the one person I've waned to see for so long out of the corner of my eye, and then disappeared behind an amp. I moved to get a better view and there she was, back of the stage, sorting something out with one of the roadies. I could've died, really I could. It was like a sense of pure relief. What made it better, was that most of the crowd had fucked off to the bar after Les Savy Fav, and me and Nick had kept our positions at the front. As a result, when Marit came to the front of the stage to soundcheck the piano, she noticed us and smiled at us. I've caught that smile and you might have to surgically remove it. You never ever ever see Marit without a smile, and i'm pretty sure you wont see me without one for a while.
Marit disappeared for a bit after that, and the crowd, which had now started to come back, were chanting MA-RIT, MA-RIT, MA-RIT, so we joined in, course. When the compere came on stage to announce Marit's arrival, which he'd done for the other three, that when my heart started to pound. The long wait was over.
Marit came on stage to a huge roar, and belted straight into This Time Tomorrow, and rattled through a 10-song set, including 8 of the 11 off her debut album, and old M2M song called Don't Say You Love Me and a cover of a song called My Boyfriend's Back, speaking of which, I'll have to find out the original artist, cos it's a great song.
Here's the setlist:
This Time Tomorrow
Under the Surface
Only a Fool
To An End
My Boyfriend's Back
Don't Say You Love Me
Don't Save Me
Highlights...well, the whole set was a highlight, but particularly Recent Illusion, which is a lot better live. It's longer and funked up a bit. Under the Surface sounds different played mainly on accordian (Marit plays the piano on it), wheras on the album, it's on something else, some kind of strings. DSYLM got everyone going, cos it was an M2M fave, and Don't Save Me, Marit's debut single, got another huge roar.
I took no less than 71 pictures of Marit and her band during the set. That's an average of 7.1 pics a song. I went snap happy cos I know the next chance I have to see her will be a long way away. Every single one of them can be seen on my MSN space once I've finished this review.
We hung around after the set, to see if she would come out and talk to us, but alas, no. Surprising, because she isnt the sort of person who is afraid to talk to fans, although on this occasion, she was probably right to not come out cos the crowd was big, and she'd probably have got mobbed.
So then, after a quick trip to the bog, we grabbed at pizza, and headed to Enga again for Yoko Ono, who was...crazy to say the least. We decided to watch Beck from the bridge outside the park, cos at this point, it was getting dark, and so the better view was over the lake from the bridge. It got dark very quickly after Yoko Ono finished actually. On the way to the bridge, we found out we had to leave the park the same way we came in, which was a bit of a challenge at this point, as the crowd was heaving. We made it to the gate, and were just about to leave the park...when somethong caught my eye to the right - a very nice picture of Marit stuck to pinboard near the exit. On closer inspection, it was a professionally taken photograph of her, done earlier in the festival, and avaiable to buy for 300 Kr in the Photo tent - way over the other side of the park.
After a trip back through several thousand Norweigens, we found the tent, and after a swift payment of 300 Kr, i was in possession of a crackin pic of Norways finest. It's gonna look well nice on my wall. That made my day that did, and whilst 300 Kr is just shy of 30 quid, I couldn't have cared less.
Back to the hotel then, and another good nights kip, followed by another gorgeous brekkie. We checked out at 11am, and headed off to the town centre for a picture opportunity or ten. We got some crackers of Oslo fjord and some great ones of the city centre's main features. I also took the neccesary opportunity of checking out the shops, in particular, Norways answer to HMV - a shop rather daftly named "Free record shop". There were'nt free, but meh.
It was worth it. Those who know my music will know Marit isn't the only Norsk artist I like. I also like Lene Marlin. Her third album was never released in the UK, so i took the opportunity to get it in there. only 160 Kr for 2 CDs! So i got an EP which I didnt know existed, by Fields, as well as Lene's long lost album.
So a trip round Oslo, punctuated by shops amd pictures, ended rather nicely in a main street pub, which was very welcoming. After a jar or two in there, we headed for the bus back to Sandefjord, bid farewell to Oslo and started our journey back to the airport. The journey back was bad, actually, cos it was raining, and as such we couldnt really take any decent pics of the fjords. I tried, but theyre blurred, mostly. The bus driver kept us entertained. Once on board, he said, "Welcome aboard. Today, our trip is to...Stockholm!", which got a gasp from everyone! "Ah...you are all still awake then!!" he said.
And now to the rigmaroll that was the flight home. Oh dear. Worst part of the trip.
Flight departure was supposedly 22:10. We arrived and it had been delayed till 23:00. Ok, no problem, we thought, it's only 50 minutes. Checked in, this time, WITH hand baggage allowed by the way, and sat in the deaprture lounge. After a while, the announcement came that the flight had been delayed again, till 23:25. Bugger. Still not a major problem mind. It became a problem, when 23:25 came about...as there was no plane waiting for us. Ah. It landed soon after. Depature time now, likely midnight.
We eventually got on that plane and it set off just after midnight. Finally, we thought. The view over Norway was as soectacular as the inbound flight, but thats as good as it got all night. 160 miles from Stansted, the captain said we'd be there in 20 minutes. Crackin stuff we thought, no problems here. 5 minutes later, he came back and said:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we have some bad news. Our flight has been diverted to Luton, as Stansted has closed the runway for maintainence. We had an extra half hour for landing, but we've been denied access to Stansted now. Ryanair would like to apologise for this inconvienience". Shit.
That meant Nicks parents had the hellish journey from Stansted to Luton - and its NOT easy going. Evenetually got to the Travelodge at 3:20am, UK time, knackered and fully ready for some kip. After 6 hours of that, it was back up the M11, A14, A1 and A46 to home, but we'dve been a lot more refreshed had Stansted not been such tight arses.
Never mind. It doesnt matter. Marit's smile is still on my face, and it will be for ages. If she announces a winter tour, I'm fuckin going. No question. Norways a trek, but its worth every penny, and fuck anyone who thinks its mad to keep going back to see Marit. I cant help it - Marit wont tour the UK until shes known over here, and at the minute, thats not happening cos the album isnt out, and its not out cos her record label havent had call to. They will, im sure, just not yet. And as such, if Norways the only place I can see her, so be it. Dedicated fans do go to great lengths.