First stop on the way to Royal Albert Hall
It’s a quarter past ten, and Magne Furuholmen has barely started to slide his fingers carefully across the guitar strings when a well-dressed, but not very sober man, suddenly falls down from his barstool at Palace Grill and backwards onto a table full of guests.
During a few rattling seconds it almost seems like this unannounced concert isn’t a secret performance by Fagmen, aka Magne F, but rather an unannounced barn dance.
“Would you look at that”, the man on stage chuckles. “This may help loosen the atmosphere if we don’t manage to create enough sound”.
From Palace Grill to Royal Albert Hall
The a-ha keyboardist has named his band Fagmen for the occasion, a cover-up “to avoid journalists. I guess it didn’t really work”.
Tonight’s performance is the first of three concerts with Magne F, which is the real name of this constellation, at Palace Grill this week, in connection with his new album A Dot Of Black In The Blue Of Your Bliss. From 20. to 22. May, Magne F will also be performing at Rockefeller, as part of a solid triple-bill with both Morten Harket and Savoy, before the short, but intensive mini-tour comes to an end in London on 24. May.
“You are about to be hijacked at our band rehearsal”, Furuholmen laughs.
“We are Norway’s most ambitious band, with Norway’s steepest learning curve. Our first gig is a small performance here at Palace Grill tonight, before we’re playing for world domination at the Royal Albert Hall in three weeks.”
Around 25-30 people along the bar and at the tables follow the “band rehearsal”, and even though a few surprised faces come in from the street during the next 45 minutes, it never gets particularly crowded inside the rockbar on Solli Plass.
“For those who want to trace any progress, it’s also possible to be here tomorrow or on Wednesday”, Furuholmen laughs, as he finishes the set a little past eleven. Afterwards he almost breaths a heavy sigh of relief.
“This is almost like in the times before a-ha started”, Furuholmen says about the big contrasts between playing for a packed football stadium in Brazil versus a handful of people at a rockbar on an ordinary Monday night in Oslo.
“I think this has given me heart palpitations”, he laughs. “This is almost more risky than when we played for 200.000 in Rio, because then everything had been set up for you.”
But he doesn’t agree that he’s trying to keep things shrouded in secrecy.
“It’s more of a feeling that not everything is suitable for being made into big events. Even though it’s nice to reach people, the music I release is mostly aimed towards the super-loyal [fans]”, he says about A Dot Of Black, which has only been released in 300 copies so far, though it’s also been available through the fashion magazine ELLE in many thousands of copies. There may be an ordinary version of the album eventually, according to Furuholmen, even though he is giving priority to other things at the moment. Like Rockefeller and Royal Albert Hall.
“By then, we’ll have added some arrangements. And I’ll remember some more of the lyrics. It might end up sounding really good”.
From Aftenposten, 6 May 2008.
Written by Thomas Karlsen.
Translation by Jakob.