Kaizers Orchestra are a 6-piece band from Norway, singing their not every day rock songs about not every day events in Norwegian. I first heard them in a record store that no longer exists and my curiosity was awoken. Long story short, I bought the albums, went to see them live, and live they are one hell of a party. It's not for everyone. You either frown and think they're a bunch of posers or you'll love them. For that reason I stopped recommending them to people. If you decide to check them out after reading this review, great! If not, that's okay too.
They're released their latest album Violeta Violeta volume 1 little over a month ago. The last time they played Paradiso, almost exactly 3 years ago, not many people turned up. It looked like people had seen the Orchestra and the novelty had worn off. This Saturday it wasn't sold out either, but it was packed and this time they also opened the balcony section, opposed to last time. A good sign. Also, it being a weekend, a lot of Norwegians decided to take a weekend break to Amsterdam. The band quickly was aware of that. And would use it, maybe not entirely in favour of the Dutch audience.
With a new album in their pocket, the band started with the classics, the oil-barrel oompa sound with songs about civil wars that never have been, the mob, betrayal, friendships and the doom and gloom of life. The sound of the band may appear happy on the outside, the songs are anything but. With the old songs, mainly from their first two albums (they got 6 under their belts, plus 2 live albums) they really pleased the audience. Especially singer Janove Ottesen knows how to play his audience and the audience lets him. Whether this is because we want to or to please him, it doesn't matter. This was an old-school Kaizers party with singing, clapping, dancing and jumping. And loads of it.
'Why are you Norwegians here?' Ottesen asked already early in the near 2-hour set. 'There's a football match on!' Norway played Denmark in the qualification round for the European Champions football cup. Leading 2-0 that called for a celebrations. The Norwegians were happy, the Dutch were happy - up until Ottesen challenged the Dutch by sincerely believing that Norway would then have to beat the Dutch and would in fact beat the Dutch. To do this once, that's fun. Even for the Dutch. But he took it a little to far, even when Denmark equalized. But luckily for them, Norway won 3-2 and would beat the Dutch in the final European Cup in 2012 as they now had qualified. In reality, after reading the newspaper today, Norway never lead by 2-0 but were down 0-1 for a very long time and had a lucky escape by equalizing in the final minutes. We could have known when Ottesen started calling out the names of Dutch football players of course. Van Basten, Gullit, Cruyff. What century was he living in when saying that?
This was the only negative side to the concert, it really was a big party. Not just on stage with the guitarists Geir Zahl and Terje Winterstø frequently coming to the middle of the stage, oil-barrels were smashed in front of our eyes, Rune Solheim stood on his drums frequently, double-bassist Øyvind Storesund really was the most modest of them all and organist Helge Risa wasn't always wearing the trademark gas mask but of course he did when smashing a rim at the stage centre. And Ottesen danced like a madman, conducted the audience, controlled the audience and tap danced until the rest of the band dragged him away.
The new album had a relatively small place in the show, only playing a handful of them. This was of course a bit odd, especially leaving out the leading single 'Hjerteknuser' but Violeta Violeta is a 3-album affair, we might get more of that when the other albums are released as well. The main focus were really the older songs but no one who really mourned that.
The crowd was most of all loud. And knowing that the last time they were here it turned out great, the set ended with 'Min kvite russer', a slow song, played only with the organ and Ottesen sitting on an oil barrel (the rest of the band joined the stage later for the vocal harmonies). The song ended in a beautiful sing along of the audience (!) impressing the band big time.
Going to a Kaizers Orchestra concert is entertainment. Without losing grip of what the band is about in the first place, the music. They're all very professional musicians, but they like to turn their shows into a dancing and singing party. Mission accomplished.
pictures taken by me, click for bigger size