Around 46,000 fans were descending on the Telenor Arena at Fornebu, west of Oslo, again this week for the latest round of concerts held by US rock icon Bruce Springsteen. Known as “The Boss,” Springsteen has long had a large following in Norway and usually returns during his international concert tours.
It’s only been nine months since Springsteen and his E Street Band performed three concerts in Norway last summer and also took part in a special outdoor memorial for victims of the July 22 terrorist attacks in 2011. He drew 84,000 fans to both Valle Hovin in Oslo and Koengen in Bergen, in addition to the thousands who gathered on the Oslo City Hall plaza for the memorial.
Now, just two weeks after Canadian pop star Justin Bieber nearly created a state of emergency in Oslo with his three concerts at the same arena, Springsteen was also filling the venue but likely with a more sedate and older, yet still enthusiastic, audience. Police didn’t have anywhere near the concerns over crowd control that they had during the Bieber concerts, which mostly attracted hordes of screaming teenage girls.
“Springsteen has always been popular in Norway and he still sells well,” Roar Bakken, who runs a website for Norwegian Springsteen fans, told newspaper Aftenposten. Bakken thinks Springsteen has a soft spot for Oslo, in part, he said, because it was in the Norwegian capital that he and his wife Patti Scialfa first appeared together in public, strolling around the waterfront Aker Brygge complex and visiting the timber lodge Frognerseteren in the hills. Springsteen held his first concert in Norway in 1981, at Drammenshallen in Drammen,
Springsteen’s fellow band member and friend Steven Van Zandt, best known as Little Steven, also has been spending a lot of time in Norway in recent years because of his starring role in the locally produced TV series Lilyhammer. Both of them took part together in the memorial performance last summer.
Springsteen landed in Oslo Sunday morning and was staying at Oslo’s Grand Hotel as usual. Bakken told Aftenposten that he opted to stroll around the city on Sunday in the hopes of spotting Springsteen, who’s also known for spending time working out at an athletic studio at Majorstuen. As many as 150 other fans started standing in line outside Telenor Arena on Friday, in the hopes of getting the best possible spots in front of the stage.
After the hysteria around Justin Bieber’s concerts died down, meanwhile, complaints have flowed into Norwegian media over everything from price-gouging for a bottle of water at the concerts (NOK 44, or roughly USD 7.50) to the vast amounts of litter left by his fans who’d camped outside, to the behaviour of Bieber and his crew during their three-day stay in Oslo. Bieber deceived the thousands of anxious fans camped out around local hotels where he was rumoured to be staying, with newspaper VG reporting that he ended up sneaking out a back entrance of the waterfront hotel where he did stay and taking a boat to get to the concert at Fornebu, southwest along the fjord.
Commentators wrote that Bieber, who reportedly generated the more than NOK 100 million expected during his stay in Norway, appeared tired on stage (“almost like he was on auto-pilot,” reported Aftenposten) and some fans who’d paid thousands of kroner for tickets that included a quick meeting with Bieber told VG he was “like a wax doll,” sour, tired and stressed behind dark glasses with security guards who pushed the fans through in a matter of seconds. That prompted some commentators and fans to write in social media that Bieber may be “singing his last verse,” at least for this stage of his pop career.
Other fans were merely disappointed: “He could have at least waved from a car,” Aurora Lopez, age 15 from Holmlia, told newspaper Dagsavisen after all the uproar died down last week. Springsteen fans may be more satisfied after their idol’s concerts Monday and Tuesday night.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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