A very special Christmas gift…
As 2018’s “Stille Natt Hellige Natt” tour came to it’s final concert in Fagerborg Church, Petra Maczewski from Varel in the northwest of Germany was present at her very first experience of seeing Alexander perform live. Here’s her story…
It’s almost already one week now since I’ve returned from Oslo and still it all seems like a dream. It had all been planned for so long, I had already booked the flights in June and on the same day bought tickets for “Stille Natt, Hellige Natt”. It would be the first time I would see Alexander Rybak live and when my husband said he could imagine spending Christmas in Oslo and going to the concert, I was beyond excited!
Although I had loved “Fairytale” in 2009, Alexander never really caught my full attention at that time. Only when I had started learning Norwegian in 2016, I remembered him because his name came up when I had been looking for Norwegian music. So it was love at second sight in a way. And the more I learned about him the more I admired him, not only for his musical talent but also for the things he said and did. And the more I admired him, the more I wanted to see him live and meet him.
I had learned that many fans (or friends as he likes to call them) gave him really nice gifts and when we had fixed everything for our trip to Oslo, I started thinking about what I could bring him as a gift. It was without a doubt that I would meet him after the concert and would have the chance for a brief chat and a hug and of course give him a gift. Because I knew he liked Lego a lot, I then got the idea of building him a violin made of Lego! One of the greatest and at the same time most stupid ideas I’ve ever had, but that’s another story…
We (my husband and I) and the violin arrived safely in our hotel in Oslo and after some more preparations and a piece of pizza at “Peppes Pizza” (I wasn’t hungry at all, but my husband insisted that I should eat something, the level of excitement was rising slowly…),we left for Fagerborg church about half past six in the evening.
When we arrived at the church, there were only two girls outside waiting and I wasn’t sure for a second if we were at the right place, but then I heard music from inside the church. Then my friend Yvonne arrived with her family and as we chatted the time away, other people came and started queuing. I met my Facebook friend Lisbeth for the first time in real life and two of her friends and we also chatted. It was a bit tricky to stand right in front of the church door, because when the first concert of the evening ended, all the people of course wanted to get out and had to make their way through the people standing outside. It was a bit of a mess and suddenly my husband said: “Alexander is there, he is standing behind the door!” I couldn’t believe it, but then Yvonne, who had a better view, confirmed: “Yeah, really!” And then I heard his voice for real for the first time ever and when he after some minutes took a look at the waiting crowd outside and said “Oh” in a very surprised way, I suddenly I felt like a teenager. I had already been excited before, but now my heart was racing and my knees went weak. It felt so unreal. I had been looking forward to this evening for more than six months and now it was here.
Finally they let us in and as I had been the third person to queue, I thought I would be in the first row. But there had been people at another entrance to the church and they had been allowed in a bit earlier, so me and my husband ended up in the fifth or sixth row, I can’t remember exactly. As the beginning came near, I got more and more quiet which shows that my level of excitement had gone so high that I was barely able to speak, which is normally no problem for me.
As soon as the concert started, I was in another world! All the musicians, not only Alexander, took me into another world from the first note. I was enchanted by the music and by the people who played this music with such a passion. Of course, my attention was focused on Alexander, even when he was not playing or singing, he “dived” into the music, listened carefully to what the others did and seemed focused in every second. Unfortunately he left the stage a few times and once stayed away for quite a while and I still don’t know why… When he spoke to the audience, I was proud that I understood most of it, this was maybe because I’m used to his pronunciation and dialect, but he also speaks very clearly. But also when the others spoke, I could at least make out what they were talking about. It was a great, festive mood and I remember thinking at some point “Yes, now it’s Christmas!”
It was only at the end of the concert when I realised that his parents were sitting two rows in front of us, even though he had mentioned them before… 😀 The concert was over too soon. The lights were switched on and I remembered that the probably most exciting part was still to follow. I got very nervous, didn’t know what to do first… Pick up the box with the violin, look out for Alexander, explain the camera to my husband who was supposed to do a video, buy the “Trolle” book to get it signed… And where the hell could I leave my jacket? I suddenly behaved like a scared squirrel and it was really good to have my husband and my friend Yvonne with me who calmed me down, my husband took my jacket and the camera and handed me the big box with the violin and then went to buy the book for me while Alexander was still standing near the altar and wrote autographs for the children. Then Alexander was walking towards the church door just when I had decided to go to the altar as well, so he passed me by in the aisle and I didn’t even notice… Shame on me! But in my defence I have to say that he was surrounded by people! 🙂
Then he stopped near the door and continued writing autographs and talking to the people. I had planned to try to be the last in line but suddenly I panicked a bit that he would leave without me having a chance to meet him, so I stood a bit closer to him and after he had said goodbye to the people in front of me, he suddenly noticed the big silver and golden box and looked at me with big curious eyes.
Then he said: “What’s inside there?”, reaching out for the box, and I answered: “You can open it now if you want!”. He lifted the lid and his eyes widened even more in disbelief. Then, while opening the box, he said “Wow” a few times and then showed the violin to a guy who was with him (I don’t know who he was even though he looked familiar to me) and he was as amazed as Alexander.
Then Alexander said: “He is the biggest Lego fan in the world, you know?!” I wanted to answer “I thought that this was you!”, but I couldn’t say anything because Alexander had the idea to take a picture with him, me and the violin, which we then did. I remember that I didn’t think really, I acted instinctively as I laid my arm around his waist (he needed both hands to hold the box), put my other hand also on the box and huddled my head against his shoulder. It seemed the most natural thing to do and he didn’t seem to mind… When he put the violin aside, I said something about the violin which I can’t remember, but I do remember, that he put his hand on my arm, smiled at me and said: “It’s like your child, your baby, right? You’re already worrying!” and then gave me a look as if to say, don’t worry, I’ll take care of it!
Then he finally also said hello to Yvonne, signed her and my book and we took a picture together, the three of us. I slowly got the feeling that he was tired and wanted to leave and there were still some other people waiting, but I had one more mission: I had a present from our little cosy Facebook group, among other things a USB flash drive with different files on it and I had also knitted him a hat. So I quickly handed him the paper bag with the hat and the little box with the presents from the group. As I wanted to tell him what exactly is on the flash drive, he said: “Don’t spoil the surprise!” and if I remember correctly, winked at me. A very charming way of telling me to stop talking… 😀 After all my missions were accomplished, I wanted to thank him and it felt the natural thing to do as I opened my arms to him. He accepted the invitation and hugged me firmly.
Never for a single second did I think about what to do and what to say, it all came out of me instinctively. Before meeting him, I thought I wouldn’t be able to talk or to do anything. But Alexander has such a natural way of handling people who come to meet him that I never had an awkward feeling, all happened kind of naturally and even though I noticed that he doesn’t have much time and felt that he was tired and wanted to go home, which I fully understood, he gave me the feeling that I had his undivided attention while we were talking. He was very sweet, friendly, polite, attentive and sensitive and also my husband liked him and said that he was a cool guy! 🙂
After we had said goodbye to Alexander, we left the church and stood outside for a while. I was trying to understand what just had happened and was on cloud nine. We talked a bit and then a taxi came, a guy put all the presents on the backseat and in the trunk, Rune came outside and got into the taxi, shortly followed by Alexander who took the passenger seat. He didn’t notice us and we didn’t say a word. He now looked really tired and for a moment, I felt bad that we had taken so long with the presents and photos and everything. When the taxi left, we waved and just before it drove around the corner, I saw that he waved back.
Three days later, still in Oslo, Alexander posted on Instagram and Facebook that he was at home at his parent’s house with fever. I think he had already felt a bit ill when we had met him, and now I was even more thankful for all I was able to experience. It can’t be taken for granted that artists take so much time after a concert to sign autographs, take pictures and so on. I think we can call ourselves very, very lucky that Alexander is so special in many ways and always has time for his friends, who at the end of the day are no more than just fans…
Petra Maczewski- December 2018