Review of the Christmas concert with Alexander Rybak in Arendal, Norway.

Article published at http://www.agderposten.no on 04.12.13
Author and photo: Liv Ekeberg 
Found by Sara Anja. Translated by Jorunn Ekre. English revising by Anni Jowett.
 The five artists (from left) Alexander Rybak,Tor Endresen, Marian Aas Hansen, Elisabeth Andreassen and Rune Larsen delivered an instant Christmas mood and joined the audience in an emotional rollercoaster ride at the Trinity church. Photo: Liv Ekeberg.

An evening for emotions

Christmas has been called a magnifying glass. The joy gets bigger but so does the sorrow, said Rune Larsen when he created the Christmas mood for a sold out Trinity Church.

The church seats are seldom more packed with the exception of Christmas Eve. This is also true for the Trinity Church in Arendal last night. The audience filled up the gallery too and extra chairs had to be placed in the church.

Cosy and vivid

Candle lights and paper angels hanging from threads in the gallery created a cosy and relaxed atmosphere, and the Christmas mood was sprinkled over us already in the tranquil opening act with “Silent Night”, Erik Hillestad’s rewritten version of “Glade Jul”, with Alexander Rybak on violin, Elisabeth Andreassen and Marian Aas Hansen in a duet. Soon the gentlemen Rune Larsen and Tor Endresen join in with the rest in harmony. They are accompanied by Jon-Willy Rydningen and Olav Torget on organ and guitar.

But soon the temperature and beat increased when the old Christmas song went straight into “Joy to the world”.

Joy and sing-a-long

– Christmas concerts are not a new tradition. The first one took place on the fields outside Bethlehem, where the shepherds had anticipations, said Rune Larsen.

Joy was the word that was repeated throughout this one and a half hour long pre-Christmas concert “Stille Natt Hellige Natt”, which is touring all over the southern part of Norway for the 26th time.

The audience got to experience a pre-Christmas menu with a large variation put together with 19 songs. Already by the sixth song the audience was encouraged to join the sing-a-long.

– We only want the women to sing in the beginning, because we will turn you into a choir of angels, said Rune Larsen. And the female half of the audience joined in so easily and beautifully that you could suspect that a local choir was sitting in the benches.

Finesse by Rybak 

When Alexander Rybak had the stage to himself with “Mitt Hjerte Alltid Vanker”, he delivered a beautiful and gentle, but also intense version and received the biggest applause so far. And if anyone thinks of Rybak as “the guy who won the Eurovision Song Contest”, they got a reminder that he in reality is an extraordinarily good violinist in his personal interpretation of “Vi Tenner Våre Lykter Når det Mørkner”. He showed off technically in the song from “Skomakergata”.

– I feel very fortunate being on tour with this bunch and am allowed to perform again in Arendal, here at this beautiful church, said Rybak.

American happy gospel music 

The audience became warm and played along, that became evident during Elisabeth Andreassen`s happy gospel music, where people sang along from the first chorus with amen, amen, amen to rhythmic clapping, while Andreassen in a pure Carola style went down the aisle and had a guy in the audience do a duet. Whether the guy she pulled up from the third row was prepared is unknown, but he sang and seemed to enjoy himself.

Laughter and lump in the throat

Rune Larsen made people laugh repeatedly with his lines and stories about children`s misinterpretations of well-known Christian sayings.

My wife`s favourite is this, from our daughter Line who was seven years old when she said :” Thou shall not covet your spouse or other working people!” Or this one, from a boy in the kindergarten :” God loved the world so much so that he gave his son a house”! 

But when the feel good atmosphere was at its highest, the artists took us on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Rune Larsen reminded us that Christmas has been called a magnifying glass.

The joy gets bigger, but so does the sorrow. And when Marian Aas Hansen, who both looks and sounds like an angel, delivered a goose-bump version of “In the arms of an angel” the tears that were caused by laughter was replaced by a lump in the throat for more than yours truly. This was an evening for the full set of emotions.

Atmosphere: Great Christmas mood and really wonderful, the married couple
Unni and Vidar Ljøstad from Fevik agreed after “Stille Natt Hellige Natt”.

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