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An already weather-beaten advertisement

Already during her German tour in April about two months ago, Burkhard had read that our favourite singer Kari Bremnes would return to Germany at the beginning of June to play another three concerts. Since all three venues were a few hundred kilometres away from here, going to the concert in Küsten seemed to be the best option, because it took place on a Saturday, so we could stay there overnight and return back home on Sunday.

Dwarf Vader and me studying the road map

It was a quick decision and Burkhard ordered the ticket directly from the guy who had organised this concert. The ticket itself was a very special one, because in contrast to all those boring faceless computer-printed tickets which you usually get nowadays, this one was a handmade and photocopied piece showing two little pictures of Kari on the front and backside and it was hand-numbered.

The front of the ticket

Dwarf Vader once again... ...struck by Kari´s beauty.

Since it´s always a bit boring to travel alone, Burkhard asked me, if I wanted to come along. Remembering the fun I had on our trip to Bad Wildungen about a year ago, my answer was a loud "Yes, of course!" And right from behind a voice screamed: "Me too! Me too!" It was Dwarf Vader, sometimes it seems he´s following me like a shadow.

When figuring out the route to Küsten, Burkhard had noticed that we would also cross Hannover on our way. Coincidentally, a big stamp exhibition and fair, the NAPOSTA 2005, was taking place in Hannover from June 2nd to 5th. Burkhard thought it would be a good idea to make a halt and spend a few hours there, so he could buy some stamps for his thematic collections.

Since it was about 410 kilometres to Küsten and the motorway ended somewhere between Hannover and Celle and since Burkhard had envisaged a stay of a few hours in Hannover to visit the NAPOSTA, the alarm-clock already rang at 5 past 6 on Saturday morning. After Burkhard had had breakfast, we left a few minutes past seven.

It´s always nice to listen to your favourite music in your car. In addition to the tapes we had already been listening to on our trip to Bad Wildungen last summer, there was another tape with an excellent album titled "Iselilja", which Burkhard had taken along. It´s by another great band from Norway Burkhard had discovered last year: Gåte, who – just like another two of our alltime faves, namely Atrox and The Third And The Mortal – are from Trondheim. Even Dwarf Vader was so impressed that he couldn´t resist humming along (or at least trying to do so – he always sounds a bit hoarse) to lines like "Knut liten, du stiller ditt sylvbugne sverd – Iseliljaaaaaaaa! – eg gjeve deg mi dotter, du er henne verd. – Så såre syrgjer Sylvelin fyr lisle Knut i Løyndom", "Du som er ung – Du må ikkje svikte oss du som er ung" or "Korleis ska sveinen finne jomfruva?". Gunnhild Sundli has a great voice – must be a very healthy climate for female vocalists in Norway!

It was about 280 kilometres to Hannover and we had planned to arrive there at about 10 o´clock. At about a quarter to ten, Dwarf Vader suddenly screamed "Oh no, terrific marmalade!" I said: "It´s traffic jam!" and he replied: "Marmalade or jam, it´s all the same to me." Burkhard turned on the radio and they said there was a traffic jam of 8 km because of a blocked road. Since we didn´t know how long it would last, we decided to take the next exit, yet since quite a lot of others had decided the same, it took quite a while until we finally had left the motorway. We went onto a highway and wanted to return onto the motorway about 8 kilometres ahead. After just about 2 kilometres, we had to realize that in certain situations people obviously have a tendancy to think alike. Another traffic jam! And from the highway we could see, just a few hundred meters to the right, that the cars on the motorway slowly started moving again. I don´t know if we saved any time at all, but to cut it short: Thanks to this traffic jam we arrived two hours later in Hannover than originally planned, namely at about 12 o´clock.

Instead of three hours, we just spent 1 ½ at the NAPOSTA, but it was still enough time for Burkhard to get the stuff he had been looking for. There were sales booths of about 25 foreign postal administrations selling current stamps at face-value. From about 10 of them, Burkhard bought some really pretty stamps. Here are a few nice examples:

A set of Spanish stamps with beautiful circus paintings

A funny Moomin-stamp from Finland...

...and a funny maximum-card with a stamp depicting an Easter-witch (also from Finland).

Since we were a bit in a hurry, Burkhard didn´t take any pictures at the stamp fair itself.

Then it was back to the car again and onwards to Küsten. After an hour or so, it began to rain, but when we arrived in Küsten at about 4 o´clock, the rain stopped and the sun broke through the sky. We checked in at the "1. Deutsches Kartoffel-Hotel" ("1st German Potato-Hotel").

Dwarf Vader and me posing in front of the Kartoffel-Hotel

Dwarf Vader was a bit disappointed when he realized that – other than its name might suggest – this hotel was not built of potatoes. He had obviously expected some kind of pendant to the gingerbread house. – Probably been reading too much "Hänsel und Gretel" lately, haha!

By the way, this hotel also offers a lot of wellness-programmes, but we already had our own: Kari´s concert!

After taking some pictures outside, Burkhard had something to eat in the restaurant of the hotel and – who would have guessed this? – it involved potatoes.

Dwarf Vader and me climbing onto an old wooden cart somewhere near our hotel...

...to get a better view.

Dwarf Vader and me posing in front of a museum near our hotel

According to the famous rule "The early spectator catches the seat in the first row", Burkhard decided it was time to get to the venue of the concert. It was about 2-3 kilometres away from our hotel and since some dark clouds had already been passing by again, we took the car. Just when we had arrived, a really heavy shower came down and Dwarf Vader said: "We can´t leave the car. My helmet might get wet and start to rust!"

Dwarf Vader and me waiting inside the car for the rain to go away

Since neither Burkhard nor me were very keen on getting soaked, we decided it was better to stay inside the car and wait until the shower was over. When Dwarf Vader got a little bit bored, he invented a new type of fun sports: indoor car-climbing.

Dwarf Vader car-climbing

Well, I guess it´s only fun for people about his size. Human beings won´t get much out of it. (Unless they are only a few centimetres tall or have got a giant car.)

After about 10-15 minutes the rain stopped and the sun started shining again. It was about a quarter past six when we arrived at the venue. It was a really special location, namely the premises of the guy who had organised the concert. There was a huge garden with big trees and a little lake – that´s why it was called "Konzert am See" ("Concert at the lake"). Well, I´d say that from a human being´s point of view, it was probably rather a big pond, yet for beings like Dwarf Vader and me, it was in fact a big lake and there was also an island in its middle.

A look over the fence into the garden where the concert took place

A stage, beautifully decorated with some vases with flowers, had been set up near the "lake" and there was also some kind of tent over it, but since it was open to all sides, I don´t think it would have offered much protection from really heavy rainfalls. In front of the stage there were many rows of wooden chairs for the audience. Behind these rows, directly beside the "lake", there was soundengineer Asle Karstad´s mixing-board, also protected by a tent. Even though there were already quite a lot of people waiting when we arrived – all in all there were about 270 people (maybe without the showers before, all 325 tickets would have been sold) -, Burkhard managed – once again – to get a seat in the first row. In spite of the fact that the sun was shining from the west (the stage was facing south), the air was rather fresh and cool and it was also a bit windy, so Dwarf Vader and me decided to stay inside the pocket of Burkhard´s jacket, where it was nicely warm. Especially for Dwarf Vader this was a wise decision, because otherwise he would have fainted again at Kari´s sight (just like he did last year in Bad Wildungen) and missed the entire concert!

Before the concert started, Joachim – the one who had organized this event – held a little speech and said the fact that this concert by Kari Bremnes actually took place was like a little miracle to him.

Miracle or not, it was indeed a very special event, not only for the audience, but I think also for Kari and her crew, Bengt Egil Hanssen on keyboards, Helge Andreas Norbakken on percussion and soundengineer Asle Karstad. I wonder if she´s ever performed a concert in a similar setting before.

In spite of the fact that they all had just arrived in Germany on that day - Kari and Bengt had been flown in from Norway, while Helge and Asle had come from Italy, where they had had a concert with another band the day before – and in spite of the rain showers which had already passed that afternoon, Bengt, Helge and especially Kari seemed to be in a very good mood when they entered the stage at about half past seven.

Kari said the weather reminded her of the place she came from (the Lofot islands) and added that their national costume was the raincoat. There may be a lot of melancholy in Kari´s songs, but she definitely also has a good sense of humour, which makes her even more likeable!

Just like at her concerts in April, Kari started with "De evige tre" ("The eternal three"), a song from her debut album "Mitt ville hjerte". The lyrics are a poem by the Danish poet Tove Ditlevsen. Kari didn´t say anything about this song, but I´ll translate the first and the last verse for you to give you an idea what it´s about:

"There are two men in this world
who continually are crossing my path,
one of them is the one who I´m in love with,
the other one is in love with me.

Each woman is standing between these two,
in love, loved and pure –
once in 100 years it might happen
these two are melting into one."

From this song Kari directly went into the beautiful "Birds", the opening track of her concerts in Germany last year and the only one originally written in English (by her brother Ola).

The next song, "I mai" ("In May"), was about about a man from the south meeting a woman from the north, yet – as you might already guess – their relationship wasn´t meant to last. I don´t remember exactly, but I think it was in context with this song that Kari said something like that it seems she likes people in trouble.

On this evening and just like at her concerts in April, Kari performed three songs from our favourite album "Løsrivelse", the one whose lyrics are poems in prose by Edvard Munch. There was, of course, our ultimate fave "Skrik", an absolute must at any of Kari´s concert – I´m tempted to say just listening to this song was already worth travelling to Küsten! However, the first song from "Løsrivelse" which Kari performed was "Søvngjengersken" ("The Sleepwalker"). Kari told us that it was about an older woman Edvard Munch had had a relationship with when he was still quite young. With regard to the paintings Munch had been inspired to by this woman, she added that this relationship should have been sponsored by the Norwegian government.

The third song Kari performed from "Løsrivelse" is probably the one with the most touching lyrics, "Syk pike" ("Sick Girl"). In his lyrics, Munch describes the night when his father woke up his brother and him, because his elder sister was about to die. They were standing beside her bed, his father was asking her "Would you like to live?" and she whispered "Yes, I would really like to live." Kari added Munch´s elder sister had died of the same disease which his mother had died of already a few years before.

Even though the number of songs which Kari sang in her native tongue had increased (compared to her German concerts in 2004), she still sang the majority of them in English. (The ratio of Norwegian to English was six to nine.) Five of them, "Can It Really Be Years", "I See You", "You´d Have To Be Here", "Zarepta" and "A Fantastic Time Already", were from her current album "You´d Have To Be Here" (the English version of "11 ubesvarte anrop"), while the others are to be found on "Norwegian Mood" (both Burkhard´s and my least favourite albums, because the original Norwegian versions sound so much more authentic). Of course, it has to be added that if e.g. Kari had sung "A Fantastic Time Already" in Norwegian, she probably wouldn´t have caused as much laughter among the German audience as she actually did, because most of them wouldn´t have understood the lyrics. By the way, it seems there were even a few fans from Norway and/or also Denmark there – someone in the first row was occasionally waving a little Norwegian flag.

Another familiar song had been "Montreal", in which Kari tells how she once stumbled into a second-hand shop in Montreal, where a somewhat "oversized" and not exactly elegant woman was selling very fine and elegant clothes – of her deceased mother, as it turned out. After this song, Kari said that she had had the impression this girl had enjoyed selling these clothes "rather cheap" and laughingly added "And I bought some of them!"

Together with the three songs from "Løsrivelse", the best song which Kari performed this evening was definitely the first song Burkhard had ever heard by Kari Bremnes way back in spring 1999, the opening track of her concept album "Svarta Bjørn" ("Black Bear") titled "Sangen om fyret ved Tornehamn" ("The Song About The Lighthouse Near Tornehamn"). The lyrics of this album tell the story of a young woman from Norway who became some kind of legendary figure. A bit more than a century ago, she had worked as a cook in a barrack camp near Tornehamn (a place at the Torneträsk, a very big lake high up north in Sweden), where railroad workers were housed, who built the railway from Kiruna in Sweden to Narvik in Norway. From Narvik, the ore from Kiruna was then transported by ship to different places in Europe. One can imagine that the living conditions in northern Sweden were very hard, even more so about 100 years ago. "Sangen om fyret ved Tornehamn" is about the surprise of this young woman seeing a lighthouse in the mountains far away from the sea – Kari pointed out that in Norway, lighthouses are usually to be found along the coast – and it is also about her dream that one day she would travel further than the ore. But she didn´t get that far, because, as Kari told us, in her early twenties she got killed in a fight with another woman, probably a fight over of a man. "Not about cooking!", Kari added, "And not potatoes."

Burkhard´s painting inspired by "Sangen om fyret ved Tornehamn"

Interestingly, according to the way Kari tells the story on her album "Svarta Bjørn", there´s a different ending: this woman dies of pneumonia! Well, whatever ending you choose, it´s a tragic one.

As for the music, "Sangen om fyret ved Tornehamn" is definitely one of Kari´s most "atmospheric" and most intense songs and one of Burkhard´s and my alltime faves!

Other than at her concerts in April, Kari also sang "A Lover In Berlin", but she didn´t include "Det Sandeste", "Togsang" and "Coastal Ship".

After the last song "You´d Have To Be Here", there were standing ovations and Kari came back with one encore: "My Heart Is Pounding Like A Hammer". One of my favourite live songs, though I would have preferred the version with the original lyrics, "Mit hjerte hamrer og hamrer" (another poem by Tove Ditlevsen), which Kari had sung last year in Bad Wildungen.

After the encore, there were again standing ovations, but – unfortunately – the concert was definitely over. Well, one has to consider that the same night the musicians had to travel to Wolfsburg, where they had to play another concert already at 11 a.m. the next morning.

All in all, it was – once again – an excellent concert by Kari, Bengt and Helge, and thanks to Asle Karstad, the sound was also once again absolutely perfect!

Obviously, even the weather paid respect to Kari! During the concert, some menacingly dark clouds had been passing by, yet luckily decided to relieve themselves elsewhere. Well, maybe the apostle Peter (often held responsible for the weather – don´t ask me why -, at least in Germany) was so impressed by this performance that he thought it would be a sacrilege to have it ruined with some heavy showers?

It also seemed the sky had been listening attentively when Kari talked about the lyrics of "Skrik", because in this song there´s a line about the sky suddenly turning bloodily red, and when we walked back to the car after the concert, we could see somewhere in the distance below some very dark clouds that the sky was doing exactly this – well, at least it tried to.

"Himmelen ble pludselig blodig rød" (or at least it tried to)

Just when we had arrived at our hotel at about 10 p.m., it started raining again.

Dwarf Vader was in an extremely cheerful mood and tried another two new styles of fun sports he had just thought up: "cushion-climbing" and "concert ticket-sledging".


Concert ticket-sledging

Well, Kate Bush once sang about "The Man With The Child In His Eyes" – now I don´t know about Dwarf Vader´s eyes (they are hard to spot under the black helmet he´s always wearing), but judging by his behaviour he´s more like "The Man With The Child In His Head", haha!

The next morning, after Burkhard had had breakfast, he took some more pictures and at about half past 10 we went back home again where we finally arrived at 4 p.m.

Looking out of the window of our hotel room on a rainy Sunday morning

On August 29, Kari´s new album "Over en by" will be released, yet only in Norway. (Don´t know when it will be released abroad.) Burkhard will order it at the webshop of her record label Kirkelig Kulturverksted. We´re already looking foward to listening to it!
After the release of her new album, Kari will be touring in Norway in September/October, but she will also play a special concert at the "Stimmenfang"-Festival in Nürnberg on September 29, where she will perform her album "Løsrivelse" together with Ketil Bjørnstad (who wrote the music to this album).

- Miss Loona - June 2005

Pictures (except of concert pix): Burkhard
Concert pictures: Rainer Erhard (with kind permission by Joachim Reinbold)

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