Friday, 30 August 2013

Nina Persson, Ebbot Lundberg and Magnus Carlson "A Tribute To The Velvet Underground" live at Stockholm Kulturfestival August 14th

Nina Persson by Daniel Eriksson
Two years ago Ebbot Lundberg, of the now sadly defunct The Soundtrack of Our Lives, and Magnus Carlson from Weeping Willows and The Moon Ray Quintet, were asked if they would like to do a performance of The Velvet Underground's third album for an HBTQ Festival event at Haga Church in Gothenburg. It worked out so well that they both wanted to do it again and they got their opportunity at this year's Kulturfestival in Stockholm. This time Ebbot and Magnus wanted to widen the set-list to include songs from the iconic debut album "The Velvet Underground & Nico", so all they needed was a "Nico", and who better than Nina Persson from The Cardigans. They gathered an impressive cast of experienced musicans around them including, on guitars and keyboards, Gunnar Frick, who has toured with Weeping Willows and also played with Ray Davies among many others, bassist Sara Edvardson Ehrnborg, drummer Johan Håkansson, who is currently playing with Mattias Hellberg's excellent band The Fur Heads and on guitar, Tommy Sahlin, who plays at the beautiful Slussens Pensionat on Orust, with Robert "Biggles" Sohlberg's band. 

It was the first time for me to see Ebbot perform live since The Soundtrack of Our Lives emotional farewell shows at The Södra Teatern in Stockholm back in December last year, and it was great to see him perform again. The band took the stage and Ebbot and Magnus appeared and shared vocals on a sublime "Candy Says", which was followed by the rest of the first side of the third eponymous album in running order. So we got a thumping run through of "What Goes On", "Some Kinda Love", a beautiful rendition of "Pale Blue Eyes" and then "Jesus". Then we were treated to "I Found a Reason" from "Loaded" and back to the third album for "I'm Set Free". Ebbot and Magnus compliment each other extremely well, their voices blend perfectly. Magnus has a smooth soulful croon which is wonderfully suited to Ebbot's slightly rawer more "Rock" baritone. But, still no Nina, and some of the crowd around me are getting a bit restless. Considering Nina's name is very prominent on the advertising, I'm beginning to wonder myself. There's a buzz as songs from the debut album "The Velvet Underground & Nico" start to appear with a gorgeous "Sunday Morning", which is followed by a powerful "I'm Waiting For The Man" with Ebbot on lead vocals. 

Ebbot Lundberg - Photo by Steve Worrall
Then it's "Femme Fatale" with Nina finally making an appearance, to a huge round of applause. I know Nico didn't actually sing on many songs, but I do think they could have planned the set or song arrangements to get Nina more involved from the start. For example, "Candy Says" and "Sunday Morning" would have suited Nina's lead vocals perfectly. "Venus In Furs" is next, with Gunnar switching to bass and Sara impressively taking on the John Cale viola part . "All Tomorrow's Parties", "There She Goes Again", "I'll Be Your Mirror" are all brilliantly performed, and Nina's smile lights up the stage. Then it's over to Ebbot to close the set with the slowly unravelling classic "Heroin". The encore is a bright and breezy "Who Loves The Sun" from "Loaded", which is followed by "Temptation Inside Your Heart", originally recorded with John Cale in 1968 but left unreleased until the "VU" rarities compilation came out in 1985. It's not a widely known song, but actually turns out to be one of my highlights of the night. They don't go down the easy option crowd-pleasing route for the encore, so there's no "White Light/White Heat" (in fact they skip the second album completely) and there's no "Sweet Jane" or "Rock 'n' Roll", which some in the crowd were shouting for. Instead they close the show with a slightly downbeat but nevertheless emotional and impressive,"Ocean". It's over, and the band are called out to take a bow and lap up the generous applause. It was an excellent show, considering it must be very difficult to please everyone, as there are so many aspects to The Velvet Underground's sound, I think they got the balance just right. So, I'm intrigued to find out what the next project Ebbot, Magnus and Nina have in store...

Magnus, Nina & Ebbot - Photo by Steve Worrall
David Liljemark, the renown comic book illustrator, film director and Wonder Boys main man, not to mention big Velvet Underground fan, gave me his perspective on the gig: "The "Ebbot Underground" gig with Magnus C & Nina P was most pleasant, but a bit too much focus on the third album and ballads, still no "Afterhours"...WTF?!...or "I'm Sticking With You" for that matter, a couple of songs should've been replaced by "I Heard Her Call My Name" and/or "White Light/White Heat" (or "Guess I'm Falling In Love"). I have never liked the song "Jesus" (with the exception of Smog's extremely good cover!) but here it got a heavier arrangement than the original, but "Hey Mr Rain" would've been a more urgent choice. The show closer "Ocean" was fantastic,  and very much in The Soundtrack of Our Lives style, but no one can top Lou's singing on "I'm Waiting For The Man" and "Some Kinda Love", but the evening's definite highlight was "Temptation Inside Your Heart"!"

Top to Bottom - Ebbot, Nina & Magnus by Daniel Eriksson
Here's a video from the gig, for more videos then please visit the Retro Man Blog YouTube channel.

We have set up a Soundtrack of Our Lives Facebook Group which encompasses all of the bands many off-shoots, collaborations, solo works, current projects and new bands - from Nymphet Noodlers and Union Carbide Productions to Free Fall, Tonbruket and beyond...please feel free to join the Group and contribute here...!

Ebbot & Nina - Photograph by Steve Worrall
Many thanks to Daniel Eriksson and Hans Selander for their excellent photographs, all are copyright 2013 as credited. You can check out more of Daniel's photos here...Also big thanks to David Liljemark. For more photographs please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and "Like" for access to the exclusive Photo Album.

Johan, Magnus, Gunnar, Nina, Tommy, Sara & Ebbot - Photo by Hans Selander

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