Happy Birthday, Mister Bob – BobFest in Oslo, 23.5.18.

It was a setlist to die for – for most artists, that is, maybe also for some Dylan fans who very much would have liked Mister Dylan himself to sing the songs from this fabulous night in Oslo Konserthus, Lille Sal.

Tom Skjeklesæther interviewed Johnny Borgan as an introduction – focusing both on Dylan of today, as he is still on the road, trying to stay out of the joint, rolling around the world one more time – and on the Dylan of 1958, 1968, 1978, 1988, 1998, 2008 – a quick introduction, that is. It sure has been one helluva ride. And we are lucky to be alive at the same time as the artist, for sure.

Salmon Smokers from Halden was the evenings splendid house band, with Omar Østli in front, known from Onkel Tuka. As much in lead was the multi-instrumentalist Freddy Holm, a guy Bob surely would have like to have in his band – a phenomenal string artist, both on guitar, mandolin, violin and lap steel. The band was strengthened this evening with the great swedish keyboardist Bebe Risenfors, known from playing with Tom Waits (Blood Money, Alice, Orphans) – a great supplement to the band, both on keyboards and sax, even singing a swedish version of Like A Rolling Stone. Salmon Smokers sang several songs, between them, great renditions of “Blind Willie Mc Tell” and “Not Dark Yet”.

A new norwegian artist, Kristian Torgalsen, played nice versions of “Don´t Think Twice” and “The Man in Me”.

As the night moved on, there was several guests appearing. The fabulous Luke Elliot, with a voice without restraint, a strong hybrid in the land between Cave and Cash, played two great songs, “Dirge” and a rocking “Groom´s Still Waiting At The Altar”. The last one Dylan played live five times in fall 1980, the first one is never played live by Dylan.

Check out more about Luke on Spotify. A very special and promising artist.

Hege Brynildsen is as sweet as tupelo honey, she´s an angel of the first degree. No one has ever made a more beautiful cover of “Saving Grace”. When she sings, the angels cries. Bob would have cried, too. Before this she also played a great version of “Mississippi”.

Check out more about Hege on Spotify.

Freddy Holm also treated us with a wonderful and folksy version of “Boots Of Spanish Leather”. Let Bob see this!

There have been many norwegian translations of Dylans songs – no one, IMHO, is better than Tom Roger Aadland´s. He digs deep into the soul of every song, and has made great norwegian versions of both “Blood On The Tracks” and “Blonde on Blonde”. This night he give us great renditions of both “Visions of Johanna” and “Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat” – the last in the most funky version of the song ever.

Omar closed the main set with a fitting tribute to Dylan, short of 77, with “Forever Young”.

The audience wanted more, and Freddy gave us an apocalyptic version of “All Along The Watchtower” in the spirit of Jimi, but mostly on the most funky violin you´ve ever seen.

The show was a great reminder of the endless beauty of Dylan´s library of songs, and was even better by bringing forward songs that transcends the greatest hits package.

A great night out in Oslo it was. Oslo Konserthus Lille Sal was almost sold out, and everybody left the building with smiles on their face. For the love of Bob.

Johnny Borgan

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