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kari bremnes live at the folk im schloß festival
(A trip- and concert-report by Miss Loona)

[Click here for German version!]


After her very successful German tour in January, Kari Bremnes returned to Germany at the end of July for two festival appearances, the first of them taking place at the "Folk im Schloß"-Festival on July 30 at Schloß Friedrichstein (a castle) in Bad Wildungen.

As soon as Burkhard had heard that there would be another two concerts by one of his favourite vocalists, it was clear that he had to attend at least one of them. As I had still very positive memories of our trip to Oslo last November, I told him that I wanted to come with him and so we went together. This time we had some company: Dwarf Vader. (He always keeps correcting me that it´s "Daaarrrththth" Vader, but take a look at him, he´s about half my size and he often carries a stick-like red torch with him, which obviously makes for better sight underground, so there´s no denying his dwarfish nature!)

On the day of the concert, we started with Burkhard´s car at about 11.15 a.m. It was about 270 km to Bad Wildungen and on our way there, we listened to tapes with some of our favourite albums: Atrox´ "Terrestrials" and "Orgasm", to which I sang along to entertain myself a bit, Fear Of God´s "Within The Veil", Nightwish´s "Oceanborn" and Två Fisk Och En Fläsk´s "Jungfruburen". Much better than the rubbish they play on the radio! I think Dwarf Vader mostly enjoyed the metal stuff. Not a big surprise, I mean, it´s obvious that he is a "metalhead" - haha!

We finally arrived at our hotel in Bad Wildungen at about 3 p.m.

Our hotel was rather small, but quite comfy, and the single room cost less than half the price we had payed in Oslo last November. It was called "Hotel del Sol" - well, the sun was actually shining, it was pretty hot (about 30° C), so there was no reason to complain and claim a refund.

In front of our hotel

The hotel also had a nice garden and in the garden, there was also a swimming-pool.

View into the garden of our hotel

Inside our hotel room

Me and Dwarf Vader having a conversation

After checking in and taking a short break, we took a walk to the place where the concert was about to take place. Bad Wildungen lies in a slightly...er, mountanious region and our hotel lay uphill. Schloß Friedrichstein is situated on the top of a hill - unfortunately another one! So we first had to go downhill and then uphill again.

The way downhill from our hotel

What got a little bit on my nerves was Dwarf Vader´s constant whining about the heat: "Man, it´s damn hot! I´m sweating like hell! I think my brain is starting to melt!" I mean, I had told him before that it´s not a wise decision to put on a black armour, a black cape and a black helmet when you go outside in the middle of summer while the sun is burning down from the sky, but he wouldn´t listen. He said something about a reputation he had to live up to and no one would take him seriously anymore, if they saw him walking around wearing just a t-shirt, shorts and a pair of sandals. Hah, seems to me someone is confusing ego with repute!

In the "valley" we had to cross a little tunnel - fortunately, it was illuminated (Dwarf Vader had forgotten his torch at home) and you could see from one end to another.

Looking through the tunnel

As it was bright daylight outside, it wasn´t scary at all.

Inside the tunnel

After crossing the little valley, it was 600 metres uphill to the castle.

Schloß Friedrichstein

Judging by Burkhard´s heavy breathing on our way up, you could have got the impression this was something like Alpe d`Huèz for pedestrians - haha! (An allusion for people who know a bit about the Tour de France.) I know, I shouldn´t make such remarks. After all, Burkhard had been carrying Dwarf Vader and me in his pockets all the way. If we had had to walk the distance on our own feet, it probably would have taken us about two days! Burkhard managed the distance from our hotel to the castle in just about 20 minutes.

Inside the yard of Schloß Friedrichstein

When we finally entered the yard of the castle (it was still about 4 hours to go before the concert would start), the stage had already been set. We walked around, Burkhard took some pictures and then we went into town, because Burkhard needed something to eat.

Me on top of the hedge of the castle yard

View from the yard of Schloß Friedrichstein

While beings like me and Dwarf Vader feed on nothing but imagination, human beings don´t. It was about half past 5, when we finally went into a restaurant. In spite of the fact that there were no other guests, it took about 50 minutes until the meal was finally served. To me, it seemed like a failed attempt at introducing a new gastronomy concept: Slow Food. As if this wasn´t enough, the schnitzel Burkhard had ordered seemed to be more fat than meat - bah! (I´m too polite to give away the name of the restaurant.)

It was already 20 minutes to 7, when we got on our way to Schloß Friedrichstein again. When we arrived there about 25 minutes later, there was already a queue in front of the entrance. Luckily, an acquaintance of Burkhard had already arrived before and made sure that there was still a seat left close to the middle of the first row. (Several rows of benches had been set up in front of the stage.)

Finally, just a few minutes past eight, Kari Bremnes and the two musicians who accompanied her - Bengt-Egil Hanssen on keyboards and Helge Andreas Norbakken on percussion/drums - entered the stage.

Bengt, Kari and Helge

At the sight of Kari herself, Dwarf Vader fainted. Poor little chap! Probably a sudden beauty-overdose caused a mental short circuit - from which he didn´t recover until the concert was over. It was obviously just too much for his little brain, or the remaining part of it that hadn´t already been melted by the sun!

As Burkhard told me afterwards, Kari´s setlist wasn´t much different from the one of her German tour in January, though the order of some songs was different and Kari also sang one song - "i mai" - which he hadn´t heard in January.

She started her set with the beautiful "Birds" (from her third solo album "Spor") - the only song which - as well as the chorus of "Montreal" - doesn´t lose any of its authenticity, when it´s sung in English, because it was originally written in this language. I do understand Kari´s reasons for wanting to sing most of her songs in English at concerts abroad, because you really miss a very important part of her songs if you don´t understand her lyrics (which are written in a Northern Norwegian dialect), but still I think there would be a better solution than to sing them in English, since - however accurate the translation might be - languages sound different and the language in which you sing a song actually does influence the character of the song.

At least at her concerts in Germany, Kari usally gives detailed background information about the lyrics of her songs and what they are about or she tells little stories or anecdotes connected with them. In contrast to quite a lot of other artists she talks a lot between the songs, which makes her special in a way. It never gets boring, but it´s often quite entertaining.

In don´t remember the exact order of the songs which followed, but in the first part of her concert, Kari also presented "Can It Really Be Years" (original title: "Et anna sted"), "A Fantastic Time Already" ("Fantastisk allerede"), "I See You" ("Lys anorakk") and - to our delight - the original Norwegian version "Du skulle vært her" (English title: "You´d Have To Be Here") from her current album "You´d Have To Be Here" respectively "11 ubesvarte anrop". By the way, she had started "I See You" in English, but she switched to the original Norwegian lyrics in the second part of this song.

I don´t know if it´s impolite to mention this, but it seems that during the last verse of "A Fantastic Time Already" Kari suddenly was a bit "lost for words", but I´ve got to say she managed it well by improvising a bit. As Burkhard and me always appreciate a bit of a change, we liked it! Apart from that, it shows that Kari is a human being just like you and me!

Talking about "a bit of a change", it was interesting to hear most of the songs being played in versions which sounded more or less different from those on the original studio albums, which was due to the fact that there wasn´t an entire band (no guitar and no bass), but just a keyboarder and a drummer/percussionist. Both of them were definitely masters of their instruments. The most intriguing thing on stage was probably Helge Andreas Norbakken´s self-custom-made percussion- and drum-set, which consisted - among other things - of two car-rims. Also, Helge doesn´t use ordinary drumsticks, but often plays with little brooms or just uses his fingers.

Helge and his percussion-/drum-set

Burkhard told me that Helge had mentioned after one of the concerts in January that he buys these brooms somewhere in Africa (I think it was Senegal) where they are usually used to sweep the streets. During the more lively songs (there are a few), these brooms usually get a bit "decimated", so they just last for about 7 or 8 concerts.

Now back to the concert itself: Other songs performed during the first part (if my memory doesn´t trick me) were "A Lover In Berlin" ("En elsker i Berlin"), "Montreal" and "To Give You A Song" ("Sang til en mann"), which according to Kari is her only love song which doesn´t have a tragic ending. The lyrics have obviously been written with a twinkling eye and make a bit of fun of several clichés in which so many others before Kari have drowned.

The first part of the concert ended with one of our favourite live-songs, the fantastic "Mit hjerte hamrer og hamrer" (the first song on Kari´s solo debut "Mitt ville hjerte"), a passionate song about jealousy, and I think Kari manages to express this feeling very well with her voice! The text of this song is a poem written by the Danish poet Tove Ditlevsen, who didn´t lead a very happy live - Burkhard once read a short biography about her in a lexicon on literature and it sounded rather sad.

After about one hour, there was a break of about 20-25 minutes. So I took the chance and - while no-one was watching - sneaked onto the stage (hehe!) to have a look at the setlist which lay on the ground. I noticed that the order of the songs Kari had sung so far was not exactly the one written down on the list, but who cares?

Me having a glance at Kari´s setlist

When Kari and her fellow-musicians re-entered the stage, it was already getting darker. Quite an "exotic" experience for her during this time of year, as Kari pointed out, since up north on the Lofot Islands, where she´s originally from, the sun doesn´t set in the summer.

During the second part of her concert, Kari sang "Day" (original title: "Dagen"), "The Copenhagen Cavern" ("Kjøbenhavnerkneipe"), "Coastal Ship" ("Hurtigrute") - a song about her childhood memories, when the Hurtigrute (a ship that goes along the Norwegian coast fromt south to north and back again) arrived carrying all kinds of strange things and people from countries far away - and "Song To A Town" ("Sang til byen"), one of the most beautiful songs of the concert. Hey Bengt, why did you drop the beautiful keyboard solo you had played at the end of this song on the tour in January?

Burkhard and me were very pleased that apart from the aforementioned English versions, Kari also offered some more songs in her native tongue: "Togsang", one of our faves from her album "Gåte ved gåte" (When introducing this song on her tour in January, Kari said that in Norway, they had learned at school that in Germany the trains arrive and leave when they are supposed to - must have been either a lesson about famous German fairytales or it was All Fools´ Day, hahaha!), another beautiful song from her solo debut (lyrics again by Tove Ditlevsen), namely "Det sandeste" and - an absolute must at any of her concerts, I think she once also mentioned that this is her favourite song - the fantastic "Skrik"!

It´s from her album "Løsrivelse", which contains poems written in prose by the famous Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, who - unbeknownst for a long time - had written poems in prose to quite a lot of his most famous paintings before he actually painted them. "Skrik" is definitely Munch´s best-known painting.


In 1993, the Norwegian composer/musician Ketil Bjørnstad wrote the music to 15 of Munch´s poems, and "Skrik" is definitely the most outstanding song, also or especially because of Kari´s impressive vocals! It´s - without the slightest spark of a doubt - Burkhard´s and my favourite live and Kari´s liveliest song. I think we could have listened to this song over and over again. (Sigh!)

Unfortunately, this wonderful concert - just like any other - finally had to come to an end. There was only one encore, but at least it was sung in Norwegian: "Berg og båre" ("Wave On Rock") from Kari´s third solo album "Spor".

Well, it was not that the audience hadn´t applauded hard and long enough, but this remained the last song of this concert. If you ask me, I think "Byssan lull" - a traditional lullaby and one of Kari´s most beautiful songs (it´s on "Svarta Bjørn" and she had performed it at the "Voggesanger fra ondskapens akse"-concert in Oslo) - would have been a perfect ending (to tell the audience "Now it´s really time to go to bed."), but you can´t have it all, can you? Maybe there´s some hope that she´ll sing it on her tour in Germany in April 2005?

After the concert, Kari willingly signed albums, pictures and posters brought along by her fans, also the cover of a very special CD Burkhard had brought with him. It contained the recording of Kari´s live concert on February 1st in Berlin, which Burkhard had recorded on tape when it was aired on DeutschlandRadio Berlin in March. An acquaintance of an acquaintance of Burkhard had not only transfered this recording onto CD, but also printed a special cover which looks really professional. Burkhard also got it signed by keyboarder Bengt Egil Hanssen and percussionist Helge Andreas Norbakken - now he´s got an "extra"-special edition!

To sum it up: it was a beautiful concert at a beautiful location and the weather couldn´t have been better! It was perfect - just like the sound provided by sound engineer Asle Karstad (possibly one of the best you can get).

The next day, we went back home again. I mean, we would have liked to also see Kari live at the "Bardentreffen" in Nürnberg on that day, but it would have meant another very long car-drive and we also might have got stuck in some huge traffic-jams, since it was the beginning of the holidays in Bavaria. So I think it was OK as it was, you shouldn´t get too "greedy"!

One final question directly addressed at Kari (just in case she should ever happen to read this concert-report): Will there ever be an official live album (please only with the original Norwegian versions!) or - even better - a live-DVD???

Text: Miss Loona
Photos: Burkhard
- August 2004 -