Norwegian rock band Madrugada stunned dozens of thousands of Greek fans at a spectacular concert in Athens Panathenaic Stadium on Saturday, September 24th.
Performing at the historic site, also known as Kallimarmaro, enhanced the entire experience and mood and inspired them to give their best, band members told a Press conference attended by Greek Reporter two days before the concert.
Madrugada wrote on their official Facebook page after the concert, thanking their fans in Greece for their continued support over the last two decades: “Athens! It’s going to take a while to realize what happened this weekend…What an incredible experience! We are honored to have you as our audience—we hope we made you proud.”
Madrugada’s surprises for their Athens audience
Greek-Norwegian performer Αmanda Tenfjord, who represented Greece at the Eurovision song contest 2022, opened the concert with her own songs before Madrugada took to the stage.
“Last time we were in Athens, we were out to celebrate twenty years since Industrial Silence [the band’s debut album from 1999],” Madrugada frontman Sivert Høyem told the crowd. “We had such a great time with you, so we thought that we [would] do something special this time.”
Among their all-time classic hits, which were enthusiastically sung along by fans, Madrugada also performed songs from their new album, Chimes at Midnight Special Edition, which had just launched the previous day.
The band surprised fans with a grand finale performing their 2005-hit Lift Me for the first time ever in a concert outside of Norway. The song’s Norwegian co-performer, musician Ane Brun, had traveled to Athens to join Madrugada on stage for their famous duet.
The band mets Ane Brun once again in discography in their newly released album, which includes a duet version of their song “You Promised to Wait for Me” with her.
Madrugada also delivered a magnetic performance of Honey Bee, one of their most popular tunes from 2008, joined by the Greek Irida Vocal Ensemble.
Music bringing Norwegians and Greeks together
Madrugada has had a most loyal fan base in Greece since the release of their very first record.
According to Norway‘s recently appointed ambassador to Athens, Lajla Brandt Jahkelln, who opened the Press conference in Athens ahead of the concert, both Greeks and Norwegians are “rock and sentimental.”
“Maybe the Greek and the Norwegian audiences have that in common,” she said and added that many Norwegians had traveled to Greece to attend the Madrugada performance at Athens Panathenaic Stadium.
“It is often said that music is a unifier and a bridge,” the Ambassador noted. “It is a cliché. However, I still believe that there is some truth is this. Music does bring people together.”
The “dark men from the North”
“Nocturnal vibe” is a big part of Madrugada’s sound, which is also “very cinematic,” as they always have a very strong feeling of the kind of images that their music creates, according to the band.
“We’ve always been about creating strong moods and atmospheres, having a big sort of open space in our music, or things to time out,” frontman Sivert Høyem said. “That is always a very effective quality for music in the live situation, it makes it a very dramatic sort of space.”
“We think about music in a very visual way,” he added.
The band’s bass guitarist and songwriter, Frode Jacobsen, said that many times they were inspired by actual movies.
Asked about their relation with the black metal scene and potential influences or collaborations, the band distanced itself but admitted that there is a lot of overlap with black metal music, with many fans of the genre showing up at their shows and Madrugada getting invited to death metal and goth music festivals, where they believe they are seen as their “chillout” music.
“From my experience as a sort of tourist in the black metal world, these people are very open-minded about music and very dedicated to music,” Høyem said.
Although the band used to object to the idea that their sound is, in some way, influenced by the wilderness of Norwegian nature that they grew up in, since getting back together in 2019, Madrugada members now say this may in fact be true.
“When we released the first album in 1999, we were seen by foreign media as ‘the dark men from the North’ producing ‘panoramic midnight sun music,'” drummer and pianist Jon Lauvland Pettersen explained. “It was so much about the nature and the way we expressed ourselves artistically and musically, and we got really fed up with that because we didn’t feel it was that at all.”
“But when we reformed the group in 2019, I guess we looked at that topic quite differently,” he concluded. “We did the Vesterålen project, which is basically a new project sort of like taking music back to our roots to our native Vesterålen region, where we are all from, and, I think to some extent, we embraced the nature and the possibility that there might be a connection between the way that we sound and where we come from,” he concluded.