I simply love it when the Oslo Opera house is holding non opera shows. It's a place where I witnessed special shows from Ulver and Vreid and this 2012 November evening, my eyes and ears were fully captivated for 90 minutes by one hell of a mad show put up by the three Norwegians in Motorpsycho together with gues musicians Ola Kvernberg, KÃ¥re Chr. Vestrheim and StÃ¥le StorlÃ¸kken plus a bunch musicians from Trondheim Jazzorchestra and Trondheimsolistene (if I got those info right). These folks were responsible for handling a wide range of brass and strings instruments (trumpets, violins, bass, etc).
One advantage of the Opera is the seating, especially those at the balconies where you really get a cool full view over the entire stage and you can say you fully digest the show from there. Then, its acoustic. Probably also thanks to a talented soundguy, but the sound of each instrument and effect and voice were so clear as you could easily focus on whatever you enjoyed best in the madness of stimuli goinng inside your ears.
Madness is actually the word I associate best with Motorpsycho, a band who's been around since the beginning of the nineties. First times I heard them, I didn't make any sense of their tunes so I simply gave up my attempts. I don't know if it was a live show or some more 'normal' song who caught my attention later after that, but ever since I am simply fascinated by their live performances. They have a way of making a perfect disorder in their music, full of rhythm and yet, atypical. Feeling that hasn't left me when I briefly browsed through the songs of their latest release, 'The Death Defying Unicorn', release on which the band also collaborated with today's guests: StÃ¥le StorlÃ¸kken on keyboards/organ, jazz violinist Ola Kvernberg, string group Trondheimsolistene and the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. And today's event had the same name as the album, so one could easily figure that it might be fully performed on stage. What you couldn't predict though, was the stage setting. There's some carton waves in front of the stage, the orchestra people wear sailor tops and hats, the band musicians look like magicians, StorlÃ¸kken wears a white robe while standing behind his countless keyboards and all I could see of Vestrheim was a tall pointed greenish hat. And a gong by his side.
The show is opened by a guy dressed as sailor who quickly announces that Motorpsycho will perform the album and what we're about to experience is nothing less than a sailor's tale. Ah, now the decor makes sense. Lots of applauding, main hall lights turn off, stage lights turn on and, surprise. A transparent material is hung from the ceiling in front of the musicians and a wild show of lights is projected on it (projection that will follow all the way through the end, getting less wilder and even funnier, in the shape of some flying fish, and then wild again, depending on the music).
The music is rarely leaving you time to realise how many songs you've been through. Actually, they didn't even stop between songs, making everything flow nicely from mad sea storms, to peacefully visits in the harbor inns, then back to sea and starting all over again. I guess the fact that all the artists collaborated on the album itself, and it wasn't just orchestra quickly learning the band's metal songs, it never felt like two opposite teams trying to overcome the others. It was a perfect harmony between the two, except the fact that Motorpsycho music is anything but harmonious. Yet, there were lovely slow instrumental moments when you could just close your eyes and think of, well, unicorns afterall.
At the end, the band got a well deserved portion of applause and an extra one when they came back for a final bow. I also bow to them since they actually played that show twice, in the same day, with only few hours distance between them. And they didn't seem to be sparing any energy while guitaring or drumming, which I believe was the case with the first show as well. It was a lovely evening that allowed me to discover this album in a 'complete' manner, assuming that for the live shows they got to fix whatever musicians consider 'oh, I should have done this better on the album'. But at least now I'll have the right imagery in the back of my mind whenever I put it on play again.