Norway - Full Moon 39 - 12/22/99
Punktum, Mo i Rana, 28.11.1999
This was the opening weekend for Punktum, a new club in Mo i Rana that hopefully
will offer more concerts in the future. Up until now, the rock scene in this city
was screaming for a place to arrange concerts, effectively making Mo
a black hole of rock'n'roll. Despite the fact that there are a fair lot of local bands around.
Therefore the joy was big when rumours started to spread about this Madrugada concert.
Madrugada has during the last six months established themselves as one of Norway's leading
rock acts, selling more than 35.000 copies of their critically praised debut-CD Industrial Silence,
and all their concerts around the country this autumn/winter have been packed with fans.
Touring around Norway for years before that should have made them a solid live act as well, so
most of the 200 lucky bastards (well, bastards and bastards ... let me put it this way - the
Madrugada guys have no problems reaching out to the girls as well) who got a ticket for this
event, were probably expecting much. And none of us were to be disappointed.
Punktum is definitely not an optimal concert place, it's more like a small pub with the
band placed in one of the corners. This makes for intimate concerts, but also causes difficulties
for the sound people. Madrugada showed to be much more rawer live than on record, and even though
the bass was messy and the vocals were at times drowning, this didn't seem to make any difference
for anybody present. Certainly not for the band, who seemed to enjoy playing virtually in
the crowded audience, although they let us know that this kind of intimacy was unusual for them.
Their set this night included most of their recorded material so far, which meant that we
got about one and a half hour of raw power and blue beauty. Songs like Beautyproof, Quite Emotional and Belladonna
are all instant golden stuff on the stereo, and also so in concert. Higher was
a minor letdown live, probably due to the aforementioned sound problems. Sirens,
another favourite from their debut CD, is
an epic fire-starter loaded with emotions. In concert, this is Madrugada on their peak - feedbackingly
beautiful - honey and garbage in sack again! And finally, Norwegian Hammerworks Ltd. is worth mentioning.
Sounding more like an interlude on the record, it comes out as another live favourite.
Jacobsen (bass) and Lauvland Pettersen (drums) make up a steady and at times very dynamic rhythm section,
probably much owing to the fact that they have been playing together for more than seven years.
Occasionally Madrugada adds a keyboard player when playing live, but not so this night. However, with guitarist
Burås' skilled and soulful playing we didn't feel that anything was lacking. But I'm also sure
that some of the songs would profit from a few additional organ tones here and there,
like on the record.
There has been some discussion in the Norwegian rock press (do we have one?) whether Madrugada is
a country band or not. Not so very interesting, perhaps, but depending on how you've come to know the band, you
might end up with rather different views. This was the first time I saw them live, and before this, I
based my view of the band upon their recorded output, which compares easier to certain parts of the American
rock tradition than anything else, tapping into 'alternative' country.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that Gun Club is one of
guitarist Robert S. Burås' all time favourite bands. Madrugada stretches from
the sweetest tenderness to cascades of feedback, with a lot of rock'n'roll inbetween. Emotionally
they are closer to Swans than Chris Isaak, although they possess elements of both these rather diverse worlds.
There is a certain amount of darkness
(Melancholica Norvegica?) present almost everywhere, but they are waving, not drowning.
I don't know if it was a joke for the evening, but on at least two occasions (once on Sirens)
I heard Robert improvising Norwegian folk music style. Time will tell if this was a one-off or not,
but I wouldn't mind hearing some more of it. Some months ago I read somewhere that Madrugada were lazy and not very visually active when doing concerts.
Well, this must have changed, because both guitarist Burås and singer Høyem were lively enough,
and all of them seem to enjoy being on a stage (inspite the fact that this was a Sunday, and they had played
a full venue the night before in Bodø).
We stand at the doorstep of a new millennium,
Madrugada are about to turn their eyes on Europe, their two EPs will be re-released (with a few minor
changes, I've been told - collectors be aware) in several European countries. Pay attention.
Copyright © 1999 Knut Tore Breivik