This Frøkedal article was written by Jen Taylor, a Gigsoup contributor. Edited by Stephen Butchard.
Thursday night at The Islington was a special occasion for Norwegian artist Frøkedal. It was the eve of her debut album launch and spirits were high. The intimacy afforded by such a small venue worked well, and the sound was mixed perfectly from first act to last. The audience were well behaved too – both acts commented on how quiet everyone was. But it wasn’t from a lack of interest; everyone was just musically engaged.
Benedict Benjamin opened to a room filled with less than ten people; a man with an acoustic guitar and an armful of songs that speak with so much sincerity. An absolute crooner with an exceptionally strong voice, his performance had good dynamics and a certain intensity while still remaining catchy. He was captivating, and it was a shame that more people did not venture in to listen to what he had to offer. Maybe they’ll make it back for his album launch in a month.
Frøkedal is the work of Norwegian songstress Anne Lise Frøkedal, met onstage by her ‘familien’ (Norwegian for ‘family’), who numbered four: electric guitar for the frontwoman, joined by keys, a minimalist drum kit and a violin. All musicians worked well together, and the arrangements were fantastic. The keys were used in a versatile way that really filled out the sound and added some interesting intricacies.
The music varied from upbeat and danceable songs, to sentimental folk balladry, to darker melodies and backings that brought up imagery of cold Scandinavian winters and heartbreaks. Frøkedal is a very likeable performer. Her quiet, unassuming style was complimented well by her sense of humour and positive outlook.
It was a night of noticeably intellectual music. Frøkedal’s songs are strong and well-written, and take unexpected musical turns. There is a real depth to her music, and she sings in a genuine way that shows how connected she is to her songs, drawing everyone in to the stories she’s telling.
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Before playing ‘Misery’, she told the audience that it is about the darkest part of Norway. With this context, it wasn’t hard to feel the intended vibe, with the twinkling keys adding atmosphere, the delicate vocals suggesting a feeling of cold isolation, and the floor tom drum creating a driving force to back it all.
Between songs, the band chatted with the crowd. At one point, Frøkedal asked the audience if they had any questions and someone shouted out ‘what’s the capital of Mongolia?’, to much laughter (the answer was never found, but a quick post-show Google found the answer to be ‘Ulaanbaatar’). This banter illustrates the very comfortable, casual feel of the night; everyone was just enjoying being a part of it all.
For their song ‘Eclipse’, the violin was swapped for a strange looking instrument that was later confirmed to be a Turkish Bagaloma. It added an interesting extra layer to the music, and helped to make the song even more beautiful as it mixed in with the lovely floating vocals.
Towards the end of the set was the incredibly catchy ‘The Sign’, one of the singles released from her album Hold on Dreamer, which moved along with so much energy, and saw the audience dancing along. The jumping melody showcased Frøkedal’s fantastic vocal control.
No encores, which is always refreshing. But Frøkedal and her familien hung around after the show to chat to people and sell copies of the newly pressed album; a special occasion indeed for fans who made it to The Islington to pick up the debut album a night earlier than the rest of the world.
Hold on Dreamer is out now via Propeller Recordings.