So, last night was the latest in the pleasingly long line of free open air concerts in Stockholm, as part of the Love Stockholm festival. And we got to see live sets from Gravitonas, Ola, Salem Al Fakir, Star Pilots, Martin Stenmarck, and Style. Quite a diverse line up!
Gravitonas were the act we were most excited about seeing. It was their first ever live show, and so it was always going to be interesting to see what they looked like on stage together. Plus it was nice to be there for their first ever show, a part of their history! And oh my word, it was quite special. They only did two songs of course, so it wasn’t the kind of show to judge their live act on completely, but it did give a good taste of what to expect. And there were two overwhelming observations. Firstly, how good the act of Gravitonas looks. Alexander and Andreas appear great together. It’s a refreshingly unusual image that works so well, and just seems so effortlessly cool, even though we hate that word! And secondly, the thing that struck us most, is just what a terrific frontman Andreas is! He’s absolutely captivating as a performer. He swaggers and staggers around the stage, looking as mesmerized by the music, as the audience is mesmerized by him! Particularly during ‘Kites’, he really comes into his own as a performer, and was a totally different guy to the quiet, collected gent he is offstage. Brilliant.
And of course, there was a second song performed, heard for the first time. ‘Shameless’ sounds like a cross between their own ‘Kites’ and Paul Oakenfold and Brittany Murphy’s ‘Faster Kill Pussycat’. The bassline is monstrous, and is complimented by a shouty, unapologetic ‘’I’m shameless’’ chorus lyric. Plus, it’s got a euphoric key change! It hasn’t been confirmed as being the second single or anything, it was just a new song performed as part of the set. The debut single ‘Kites’ is yet to peak in Sweden, having been climbing the radio airplay charts steadily for the last few weeks now.
Their captivating live show was all the more impressive in our eyes, since Alexander told us afterwards that they actually hadn’t planned on doing their first shows for another couple of months at least, and that this was all quite last minute. You can watch their set if you skip to the 20 minute mark in the link below. And the hour’s footage also includes Ola, Style, and some others (despite the video being labeled as only Orup’s set)
Ola was up next, and bounced onto the stage in that bundle of energy that he always exudes! The three song set started with ‘Unstoppable’ and ended with an extended, crowd participation version of ‘Natalie’. Everyone loves that song! And in between both of those he performed his brand new single ‘Overdrive’, which got to number 11 in the Swedish singles chart today after being released last week. Hmm, we’re not so sure about ‘Overdrive’, hence why we haven’t mentioned it on here before. It’s a tiny bit likeable we guess, but not really anything to get excited about. Perhaps it’s a grower though, as we seem to be in the minority on that one. Plus, he gave a quite charming performance of it last night. The sound really suits the feel of the summer outdoor music festival.
Thankfully though, it’s part of a three track EP, and it’s a varied enough selection for enough people to be happy. ‘Overdrive’ is the guitar driven mid-tempo number. Catchy, upbeat, feelgood, with an infectious repetitive lyric in the chorus. The chorus also has some toe tapping beats, and it gets a bit faux-reggae in parts. Actually, we’re listening to it again whilst writing this, and it’s growing on us a bit more! Also on the EP is the r&b inspired ballad ‘Still Remember’. Nothing special unfortunately. The song that really excites us on the EP is ‘All Over The World’, the best thing he’s done since ‘Natalie’! It’s got a ‘Release Me’/’Headlines’-esque intro and carries on being scandipop friendly throughout. A pop song you can dance to. And a chorus that suitably sticks in your head, a lot! Have a listen to all three below and make your own mind up though.
After Ola, we trundled over to the other stage to see Salem Al Fakir – as had quite a lot of the rest of Stockholm! It was packed, the busiest of all the shows we’ve seen in the last few weeks. It was our first time seeing Salem Al Fakir (aside from at Globen for Melodifestivalen), so we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Actually, we expected him to be sat at a piano for all of it, trilling away. And whilst he does sit at his piano for most of it, as he needs to, that doesn’t stop him from being a totally charismatic performer with it. Everyone in the crowd seemed to love him, and the people around us were all laughing at particular comments, winks, or smiles that he’d make at certain points in the song. It takes a unique kind of showman to entertain a very large crowd at a free outdoor event that anyone can attend – but he really succeeded. We assumed that he’d done only songs from his new album (which we hadn’t heard), but we’ve had a listen to it this morning on Spotify and haven’t been able to find our favourite song from him last night. It was amazing, one that he stood up for and performed at a mic stand. It was really upbeat and a bit of a hand-clap fest. But we can’t find it. ?
Salem has of course become uber famous in Sweden since his appearance at Melodifestivalen this year with ‘Keep On Walking’, but here’s the video for the follow up, the new single ‘4 O Clock’;
Star Pilots were the last artist of the evening to perform. It was the first time we’d seen them without Johan Becker, so again, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. To be honest, they were kind of doomed from the start, as Johan Becker really was a large part of what made the Star Pilots show great. He had the stage presence and he was the voice of their hits. So whatever they came out with, we were probably going to be underwhelmed. Although to be fair, we’re fully aware of the fact that had Johan never been part of the act, we would have loved last night’s performance and taken it for what it was, rather than what it used to be. Now, it’s the three backing dancers of yesteryear, propelled to the front and singing some of the vocals. Most of the vocals though, are done by a new guy who stands at the back of the stage whilst the dancers do their thing at the front. They did the four hits; ‘In The Heat Of The Night’, ‘The One And Only’, ‘Higher’, and ‘I’m Alive’. The only new song they did was ‘Hungry Eyes’, which was disappointing, as a dance cover version has already been made of that, in Sweden, by Anders Fernette just last year. Still, they didn’t announce it as the new single or anything, they just included it as part of their set.
For ‘Higher’, one of the backing dancers disappeared for the first part of the song, and then reappeared halfway through wearing a cheap looking imitation of the white aviation outfit that Johan Becker famously wore at Melodifestivalen for the performance of the same song. It was quite sad, as they actually then looked like they had become their own tribute act, which is a bit effed up really. However, we’re delighted that they’re continuing with the whole Star Pilots thing despite Johan’s departure. The project has given us some of our favourite dance pop songs in recent years, and we want many more from them!
There were a few other acts that we saw last night, most notably Martin Stenmarck and Style. We’re not a huge fan of either, but we do like both of their new singles. Martin has released a cover of Keane’s ‘Everybody’s Changing’ which he performed last night. It’s to tie in with a special promotion he’s doing with the Scandic hotel group. And we’d also just like to say that he really is still the sexiest guy in Sweden! Even with the slight paunch he’s developed of late!
Style have come back with a Roxette sounding new single which we really liked. We were appalled when they came onstage last night though and mimed it. Miming usually doesn’t bother us in the slightest, but it really jarred last night for some reason, probably because everyone else we’ve seen over the last few weeks has sung live, without exception. They did two of their older songs next though (which everyone went MENTAL for!), and sung those live. Here’s the video for the new single, ‘Love Killer’.
Tonight, the music continues with Anna Bergandahl at Love Stockholm (we hope she gets a heroes reception, this is her first gig since Eurovision), and the lovely Therese at Paradise club.