Åge Aleksandersen, known as a pioneer of rock music from his home district of Trøndelag, is also big enough nationwide that he’s been portrayed on Norwegian stamps. Over the weekend he and more than 4,000 of his enthusiastic Norwegian fans took his music outside the nation, and clearly seemed to love every minute of a specially arranged concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
An estimated 4,300 Norwegians, the vast majority of them from Trøndelag, filled the iconic British arena for the concert with Aleksandersen and his band Sambandet. It was an unforgettable evening, also for one current and one former Norwegian government minister.
Aleksandersen’s fans cross party lines, with both the Labour Party’s Trond Giske, a former Norwegian trade minister, and current Oil & Energy Minister Tord Lien of the conservative Progress Party in the audience. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that Lien had received tickets from his wife on the occasion of his 40th birthday.
Aftenposten also reported a form of “hallelujah” mood in the historic concert venue best known for hosting the a so-very-British Proms every year. Instead of hearing Rule Britannia, though, the fans from Norway who had filled around a dozen chartered jets from Trondheim, could sing along with 27 of Aleksandersen’s greatest hits including, of course, Royal Albert Hall.
That’s the song that sparked the concert in London. It was written by Aleksandersen 41 years ago with disillusioned lyrics about a career dream that burst, noting that it was “a long way to Royal Albert Hall.” On Friday night, he made it, and the dream of one day performing there came true.
“I’m trying not to get carried away here, but I think this is enormous,” Aleksandersen said from the stage about an hour into the concert, after his audience had already been on their feet from the opening number. He wasn’t the only one to think that: “This is an event that’s among the rarest in life,” exclaimed one fan to Aftenposten even before the concert began. Norwegians with their unique dialogues from Trøndelag absolutely took over one of Great Britain’s classic venues, with only one of the 27 songs performed during the three-hour concert sung in English (“14 pages”).
Norwegian music commentators gave the concert good reviews, clearly swept away themselves by the mood and the atmosphere. “I don’t know if it’s necessary to describe the atmosphere,” wrote newspaper Dagsavisen’s Geir Rakvaag, in London for the occasion, after Alexandersen performed several encores including his classics Lys og varme (Light and warmth) and Levva Livet (twice). “Maybe it can’t be described.”