I’m playing a benefit concert for the charity ONE FINE DAY. I thought to ask my friend, pianist and songwriter for Keane Tim Rice Oxley if he might like to help out. Of course he said yes. The idea was loosely to play some Keane hits within my set… To some this could be seen as torture worse than water boarding but hopefully there are some out there who would maybe enjoy an evening of this kind of thing. Tickets are €25. I’ll have a quartet as my backing band and support comes from Morten Mykelbust, a talented new songwriter I met recently in Norway. There will also be a DJ. And I guess it’s Halloween so maybe wear something… Word.
BELOW IS A LITTLE FILM ABOUT THE KIDS ONE FINE DAY WORK FOR
Eight years ago, on a beach on the island of Giske in North Western Norway, some friends threw a party. A small gathering of 30 people. Everyone brought food and drink to share. It was awesome so they said “Lets do it again next year”
Seven years ago , in a field on the island of Giske in North Western Norway, some friends had a party. A bit bigger this time, 70 people came with their food and drink. Afew of them brought guitars. It was awesome so they said let’s do it again next year…
Six years ago and the party expanded to 300 friends bringing food and drink. Some bands came too. Someone said “We’re going to need a bigger field”…
If there was such a thing as viral in slow motion then Sommerfesten on Giske, pronounced Yisk-ih, could be a prime candidate. Over the 7 years since it’s inception, word has slowly spread about this free festival promoting Peace Love And Understanding. By 2010 some 25,000 people from all over Norway gathered to enjoy music and food and eachothers company. Damien Rice headlined the event with bands queuing up to be included. Because it’s a free concert, bands waive their fee. Organisers pay travel and accommodation expenses and the provide the kind of hospitality usually laid on for royalty. In addition, people all over the island open their homes to house the many performers who descend on their town. Of the numbers who attend, most bring food which is handed into a station and shared. The only thing you have to pay for, if you’re a punter, is drink.
In May this year I was contacted by one of the organisers, award winning Norwegian journalist, Bernt Jacob Oksnes. We met in 2003 in London when he interviewed me for 12 Memories. Anyone who knows him will tell you he also happens to be the nicest guy in Norway. A journalist!!!? Never!! Well it’s true. So when he asked me to come and headline Sommerfesten 2011 I didn’t miss a beat. “Bring your wife and son too.” “Umm…Ok!”
Then, a week before the festival, a bomb rocked central Norway killing 8 and 68 were shot to death on the Isle of Utøya. I waited until Monday before contacting Bernt. “Is the festival cancelled?” I asked. He said “We were very close to cancelling until politicians, survivors, even the King of Norway urged us to continue… are you still coming?” To be honest, the thought of heading to a remote island in Northern Norway in the wake of a mass murder on a similar island, wasn’t appealling, especially when the killer was talking about another 2 cells planning similar attacks. My wife Nora was even more concerned. She emailed Bernt voicing her concerns. Bernt was adamant it was going to be safe. We packed our bags.
Bernt was at the airport to pick us up. He had been anxious about the international artists coming, worried they would cancel. He looked relieved to see us emerging from arrivals. We drove through two very long tunnels under fjords then over a long arcing bridge towards the festival site. It was teeming with volunteers, making finishing touches. A giant pink cow, the festival mascot loomed in the distance. Stages were set. Everywhere we went we were met with wide smiles. The atmosphere was unlike any festival I’ve ever been to. But then Sommerfesten is a wholly different festival from any other that exists today. It’s no surprise though. Norwegians have an unwritten law that states every person is equal and not above the other. The country was relatively poor until the 1970′s when oil was discovered off the coast. Instead of the usual scenario, where a minority benefit from such a huge windfall and in keeping with this unwritten code, the wealth was shared among everyone. Education, healthcare and infrastructure are among the best in the world. Sommerfesten is a distillation of this national ideology.
As we wandered about the festival site, Oslo and Utøya are on everyones lips. It’s fresh. People want to talk about it. Many I spoke to held back tears. Everyone is shocked. The community feeling Norwegians have sits uncomfortably with this tradegy. How could this happen? In the hotel lobby Bernt took me aside to ask if I would sing at their memorial the following day at the festival. Survivors from Utøya would be talking from the stage then “We wondered if you would go up and sing ‘Sing’” ” Sure.”
That evening the festival organisers take performers and their friends and family on 3 old fishing boats out into the sea. The fishermen collect crabs. My son, Clay and I throw one back in. They let him steer the fishing boat and wear the captains hat. We ended the evening on a little island by a lighthouse where a large marquee had been set up. Enough food and drink for twice as many revellers was laid out. There was a rowing boat filled with crushed ice and endless beer. Clay was tired so we slipped out and returned to Alesund. I made the car wait while i saw him to bed with Nora then returned to the lighthouse where the party was in full swing. From talking to everyone it’s clear the festival will serve as a moment for mass reflection.
When we arrived at the site the next day, people were already streaming in, bands were already playing. There was a family vibe. A lot of kids running around laughing and playing. The weather too, was perfect. We wandered between the 3 stages for a while but mostly hung out back stage and waited till 5 when the memorial would happen. Backstage at around 3pm there were murmors that some of the survivors had arrived. They sat at the next table from us. Teenagers. Their parents looked solemn. God, what they had been through, what they’re going through…
5pm and these teenagers file onto the stage. 20000 people are standing in silence as one of the kids speak… As a foreigner, I have no idea what is being said but get the feeling it’s incredibly poignant and somehow optimistic. Then a Norwegian actor recites a poem about youth followed by another survivor. Then one of the main politicians speak. Then I go and sing ‘Sing’. All the performers of the day are at my back singing along to a sea of hearts. Alot of crying. Quite a moving moment.
That evening Clay was my roadie. He helped with plugging in leads and puting guitars away. The rest of the day was a blur.
We stayed for 5 days on Giske at Ocean Sound Recording Studio. Weirdly, they have the desk we recorded some of The Man Who on. OK Computer was also mixed on it and quite afew other titles. Tina Turner too!!!
The festival is really special for many reason. For me, it was the way the treated the bands. For 3 days they looked after some 100 or so people, taking them to remote houses on a fjord or on the final night sitting everyone down for a meal cooked by Norways finest chefs! The spirit among performers is so different because of this. By the end of the trip people are making arrangements to meet up again, write together, play together. There is a real songwriting revival going on in Norway. Among them a guy called Morten Myklebust, Odd Martin Skaalnes singer of the Alexander Quartet, Robert Post who I’d met in London earlier. Lukestar also played at the aftershow. This guy had the highest voice I ever heard!! I’m sure his nuts are in a jar on some byzantine choir masters mantlepiece. I dueted with Odd on a version of Slideshow. Was cool. There was a fantastic Indian artist there too called Raghu Dixit. He and his band rocked the festival and provided Clay with his own entertainment system for the duration of the weekend.
My favourite band were playing tonight in Istanbul at the same festival as us so Dougie and I and our friend Alper went to see their show which was brilliant and after our show I went and said hello… I felt calmer than a year ago when I met them. They were very sweet. By the way. Thanks to all the Turkish folk for tonight… You were super cool. Man it was hot!
Today we’re in Tilburg, Netherlands… Last night was alot of fun. My taxi pulled up as the tourbus arrived. Was so cool to see everyone again. Felt like a week ago when we were in America. That was November last year. Yesterday though, we were in Germany in Offenbach just outside Frankfurt. I played in this venue, I think 10 years ago. So long ago. I was 27… now im 37. I’ll be 38 in 2 weeks. 38!! Gosh… Time really doesn’t exist. Minutes can feel like weeks and years can flick past. I’m sure they’ll soon locate the part of ones brain that regulates the passage of time and invent a procedure to even it out for the older generations. It does tend to accelerate.
It’s deleted… but it’s funny. It doesn’t seem to allow people to completely delete their account… Whatevahhhh!
Sad news. I didnt get the space I thought I would get… damn I know I shouldn’t have told that war joke at the viewing… only kidding… but seriously I will keep looking in ernest… what does that mean? In ernest… from my mac dictionary it comes from Germany and is related to honest and trustworthy… well that is how I will proceed. I know somewhere out there there is a room which is waiting for me to fill with songs and a fair bit of useless shit… my left nostril is blocked… Clay has a full cold. I think I’m due a cold. My mum touched down in Berlin today… rock’n'roll jetset nana. It is so cool to see Clay and her play and have fun… Yes mum… I just realised you will read this… it is nice though… I was thinking tonight I called you nana and how I loved my nana and now you are a nana… it’s nice to hear nana said again… and he loves you to the power of 100
I’m this close to closing down my facebook page. My pointer hovered over the deactivate sign afew evenings ago. I have absolutely no LOVE for the thing… Twitter is fine… but Facebook… there is something really annoying about it… everyone I speak to says they don’t like it but are trapped. Not to mention the daily round of requests. SO bizarre!!! Do people use it instead of email now? Has it become email? Maybe that would explain why people think they are writing me a personal email… and asking that do this and that for them…
Anyways I am def 98% close to hitting the button… I may do it this week. Just to be freeeeeeee…
Man, as I wait to hear about this new workspace, I thought my room downstairs needed a little TLC. One of the walls, where the sofa sits, I thought would look nice with some wallpaper. But instead of getting someone in, I decided to do it myself. I like the meditation of DIY. And weirdly the stress that accompanies it is similar to gigs when you feel they are about to go shit…
When I need to do anything here, I have to get translations (yes I will learn it soon) so the word for wallpaper is tapete (ta-pay-ti) and I wanted something old and smokey. After looking night after night, I found the best wallpaper shop in Berlin. It’s small but it has the most incredible amount of wall paper I have ever seen. We spent a morning last week, browsing through those big portfolios full of bits of tapete… the man who worked there was sweet and helped me find what I didn’t know I was looking for.
The next day, I had my wallpaper. 2 rolls. I bought a wallpaper paste brush and a bucket and some paste powder from Obi… it’s Home Base… and, armed with a how to wallpaper a wall web page and drawing on memories of my granda wallpapering his bedroom and showing me how to do it when I was 6, I cleared the area and set about covering that wall. I remember my granda having a wallpapering table. I thought the size of the wall didn’t warrant a big table… and the concrete floor was flat enough and easy to clean afterwards so I measured the walls and started cutting the paper so the intricate pattern would line up. Then I went upstairs and looked at the paste packet. I got on google translate and typed it all in and am glad I did. There were lots of little hints and tips… I ended up using the electric whisk to get the lumps out. Then I pasted all the paper and folded it in on itself and left the lot for 10 minutes to soak. I made a plum line and set to puting that first piece on straight… it took about 2 minutes. The second piece was harder and took about 10 minutes… The 3rd was the hardest I had to cut around a power outlet and an aluminium tube… The stress levels were reaching red. The edges were drying very fast and so curling away from the wall. I had to resort to getting my fingers covered in paste and applying it gingerly to the outermost edge all the way down each strip, i’m sure I saw my mum or my granda doing this but it could have been hallucination . Sweat was now trickling down my face, down my neck down my back. Then Nora shouted that it was time to go and collect Clay!!! But I was locked… I couldn’t stop as it all had to be done in the oner. The paste was on the paper and I was trapped… sweating like a gorilla, Nora calling every couple of minutes wasn’t helping…
I finished and made it to Clay’s kinderlader with a minute to spare…
Amazingly the wall looks great…
Songwriting is approaching. I always get nesty before a gusher… doesn’t sound too appealling but can I assure you it’s very sticky.
(yes you’ve just read about me wallpapering)