This weekend the two of us took the plane up to what we consider our third home: Tromsø. Naturally, we were there for a concert, but that does not mean that we don’t appreciate the place itself in all its raw, Northern Norwegian glory. It really is one of the most beautiful places we know. At this time of year, the weather is cold, and the sun is nowhere to be seen. However, if you’re lucky, you may spot the famous northern lights dancing across the sky, mostly green in this part of the country. We weren’t so lucky this time, but only because it was snowing heavily. It really is the one or the other up there. A short bus ride from the airport is the city itself, surrounded by great mountains and the sea, with houses in all shapes, sizes and styles clinging to the mountain sides. Tromsø is known internationally as “The Paris of the North”, as well as several other aliases, thanks to its historic role regarding trade, expeditions, and research. Here, you also have UiT, the University of Tromsø, and several different sporting events. All this makes Tromsø a busy and popular city, visited by people from all over the world. And lastly, what makes us come back time and time again, is the music, and the people.
With music we are, of course, mostly thinking of Violet Road’s concerts. Their concerts in Tromsø are always extra special to us, as there are certain things that don’t happen at concerts any other place. This time this became apparent already long before we got there, because the band had created their own little “festival” which meant Hollow Hearts and Resirkulert acted as their support acts both days. It was great to get the opportunity to see them at last. Hollow Hearts were soulful and sincere, making the whole theater listen to what they had to say. And then there was Resirkulert, who sparked a lively, playful atmosphere with their highly contagious energy. They were definitely the perfect way to warm up the crowd, as Violet Road is a good mix of the qualities of these two bands. And the people there know Violet Road so well that they start singing along to their chants long before they are asked to and cheer and clap at all the right places, just with twice the normal intensity. And when the band asks for a quiet moment so their more sensitive songs can be appropriately enjoyed, there might be talking, but you could still cut the tension with a knife. In addition, there is one song that Violet Road can only ever play in Tromsø, namely “9000-byen”, which they made for the city’s football team. Not that we care about football, but we love the song. It’s just delightful, and the best thing about it is that it makes this football-crazy and patriotic crowd go completely bananas.
Then there are all the great people there whom we all first met at concerts just like these and that we never get to meet elsewhere, simply because they are all closely connected to Violet Road. Among these are the daughter of the band’s keyboardist and a friend of her’s, who we have become close friends with, and we had a lot of fun during the weekend, as we always do. As usual, this obviously included a trip to Burger King. We also got to meet the lovely parents of the band’s Rundberg brothers again. In addition there was, as always, a great many other people we have grown so fond of and always hope to see again. There were even a couple of people we had never met before, but who we now found ourselves speaking with till late at night at the pub we all ended up at both nights we were there. We would simply need to double the hours of the days to get to talk to everyone while we’re there.
Sunday had come, and it was time to fly back south. But we were not going home; we were on our way to the third Violet Road concert in three days, this time at the Opera House, sold out for the occasion. This was a major breakthrough for the band, and so a big part of their friends and families had joined them in their success, and we weren’t about to miss it. Sitting there on the front row, we could feel the atmosphere alive with electricity from the second the lights went out and the support act came on stage; one man with a contrabass and one with a violin, standing in front of the curtain on the enormous stage, performing classical music and joking about how everyone must be so disappointed to get them and not Violet Road. At the end, they were joined by two women with violins and one with a viola, until the five of them were deservingly applauded off. Then, after a few quiet minutes, Violet Road entered. The curtain was still down, and they had no instruments; they simply stood in front of the one microphone set out there and performed the acapella version of one of their most heartbreaking and beautiful songs. The room was dead silent, and then the over 1300 people erupted in applause all at once. Next, the curtain went up, and the band took their places. Several of the songs were accompanied by the musicians from the support act, while others had the help of a choir, and sometimes both groups were on stage with the band. Unlike the concerts in Tromsø, there was almost no cheering throughout the evening, and people sang along only when told to, but that was not for lack of interest. Everyone was simply in awe. Everything was grand and taken to new heights, and there we sat, barely able to breathe from excitement and joy, often making the people around us laugh, including the friend we had brought who sat next to us. But it all was almost too much when they brought another violinist to help them with their last song, called Apollo’s Place. This song is not played live often, and especially not with her, the one who also played violin in the studio version. When the concert ended, we needed some time to recover, before hurrying out to talk with everyone who had come, and then joining them at two pubs for the rest of the night.