The return of MADRUGADA to Greece
Saturday 24 September 2022
Panathenaic Stadium, Athens
“Madrugada and Greece, it’s kind of a love affair…”, confessed Sivert Høyem, frontman of the band, after their extraordinary concerts in Greece, during the spring of 2019. And it is exactly this unbreakable love affair with the Greek audience, which follows them passionately in all those years of their career, that they’re going to reaffirm, in the evening of the 24th of September, in Kallimarmaro Stadium of Athens.
Madrugada’s reunion 2 years ago, in the cause of the 20 years of their first album Industrial Silence, proved to be a triumphant journey in 14 countries of Europe. Sivert Høyem described the experience from this tour as liberating and redeeming, at the same time: “I’ve never felt this comfortable on stage. And I’ve never gotten such a kick out of standing in front of an audience”.
It was this moving reception by the audience that created a sense of commitment among the members of the group, towards their dedicated friends. Hence, the band hits the road again, in order to meet its fans during a new tour, from which Greece couldn’t of course be missing!
This time, the band choose the Panathenaic Stadium of Athens, well-known as Kallimarmaro: an iconic place and symbol of strong historical memories, as it reflects right back to classical antiquity, while, at the same time, carries the image of modern Greece as a country which integrates fastly into the international setting of the 21st Century. Kallimarmaro –the only marble stadium in the world– welcomed the first modern Olympic Games in its more than one hundred years presence, but it has also hosted big events such as Rock in Athens, concerts by José Carreras and R.E.M., and the recent fashion show of house Dior.
Here, then, in the foothills of Ardittos and under the gaze of Parthenon, Madrugada return to Greece with their new album “Chimes At Midnight”. So far, they have revealed three songs from it, “Nobody Loves As I Do”, “Dreams At Midnight” and “The World Could Be Falling Down”, which are aired frantically by the Greek radio stations, already from the first days of their release.
The new album will prove that their course so far was painful but creative as well. It is a band, after all, which from its debut in 1999 (Industrial Silence) to their last album in 2008 (Madrugada), was forming authentic rock songs, fueled by passion and a confessional honesty. Some of their most beloved among them were “Majesty”, “The Kids Are On The High Street”, “Lift Me”, “Electric”, “Strange Colour Blue”, “Vocal”, “Shine”, “Honey Bee” και “Black Mambo”. Nothing was ever simple, or easy.
Madrugada, music that lasts in time
Madrugada were first formed in 1993 in Norway’s cloudy Stokmarknes, by Sivert Høyem (vocals), Robert Burås (guitar) and Frode Jacobsen (bass). Drummer Jon Lauvland Pettersen joined the line-up a little later. Myth says that their first record contract with Virgin was signed on a car’s hood, with the additional rule that the company will let them have all the time they needed to complete their debut album.
This debut was Industrial Silence in 1999 and with that Madrugada bid farewell to the 20th Century. Its success was instantaneous, first in Norway, then in other European countries, too. It was the first time that an album from a Norwegian band not belonging to the robust black metal scene of this country was met with such overall recognition. “We wanted to create a timeless, classic album, and when we played the songs again twenty years later, we could tell that they had definitely stood the test of time”, said Jon Lauvland Pettersen. Well, they did succeed!
The album was a formidable breakthrough for the band, and is today considered a classic. But, beyond any other country in Europe, it was in Greece where Madrugada were loved. This is why it was here that the band played live during its first steps, when they started touring abroad. Since then, they formed a remarkable bond with the Greek audience, which grows stronger and deeper as time goes by.
After their first and so successful Industrial Silence, Madrugada released three more albums: Nightly Disease (2001), Grit (2002) and The Deep End (2005). All of them helped to highlight their stripped-down but overall modern style. As they evolved musically, they continued to enjoy the love and respect of the audiences, especially in Greece. This is why they never forgot to play here as often as they could, even in instances when there was no tour schedule.
Madrugada live to play live: since the first days, concerts became more and more their biggest asset. “Our music is created to be played live, especially our first album, Industrial Silence. And this remains the best way for someone to find out about our music, to hear us play live”. It was these instances that gave prominence to their strong and evocative sound, but also to Sivert Høyem’s features, who steadily evolved into a great singer.
This rising course was interrupted in July 2007, from the unexpected death of their 31-years-old guitarist Robert Burås. Shocked by the passing of such a close friend, Sivert Høyem and Frode Jacobsen decided to complete the recordings of their then album and disband. This fifth –and final, until now– album was symbolically called Madrugada, and was released in the beginning of 2008. With that, a great rock band of the 21st Century pressed pause. In all those years that came in between, however, their fans never forgot nor abandon them. The Greek audience, especially, kept stubbornly their songs on the forefront.
The timeless Madrugada!
Madrugada were loved a lot and were greatly missed. Frode Jacobsen says that an important motivation for getting together again was to take hold of the band’s history and try to find new common ground. And it was surprisingly easy to hit the right note: “The best is everything you don’t have to say.” The 2019 tour introduced them to a new audience, but it also gave them an opportunity to appreciate the musical expression they created during their intense early years of their career. For this reunion, in the place of “irreplaceable” Robert Burås, they invited two friends and remarkable Norwegian musicians to join them, Cato “Salsa” Thomassen and Christer Knutsen. Both play guitars and keyboards, thus forming an expanded line-up, that strengthened the band’s abilities.
Madrugada always had something fluid and timeless. The band, after all, emerged from a never-ending conversation about music, which started in a rehearsal room and continued first in studio environment, then on stage. And it was finally there where their dark, melancholic sound was formed. Each of the members made a unique contribution to what was Madrugada’s identity: Høyem’s heartfelt baritone; Jacobsen’s grounding bass; and Lauvland Pettersen’s inventive drumming.
Not to mention the songs.
“Our best songs were never by the book. We had to do things our own way”, said the band.
Madrugada’s quiet strength
Madrugada reflect on the unspeakably and on our most hidden thoughts, implicating them with stories and personal experiences which become universal due to their being common to all of us. Our Norwegian friends sing about feelings through their unique music, having a sound that has no parallel in other groups of the same generation. They may express themselves via an indolent and sometimes dark way, but what they essentially create is dark, melancholic magic. With its metallic intensity, their music sounds like a distant but soft blaze in the arctic sky.
Madrugada’s quiet strength is a precious statement coming from the soul, an exchange of love between an original rock band and its faithful audience. Also, a reminder of a band which shouted that nothing has been lost yet, that the recent pandemic did not dry its inspiration, that they never forget to evoke the deepest feelings among people.
Madrugada’s darkness is velvet, soft, familiar. It does not scary you. It protects you. Times may have become uneasy, but the kids still play in the streets, kisses still taste like roses, at nights we still feel the need to return home, and other people will always remind us how vulnerable we are. How much we need each other. Like a shelter during the storm.
Madrugada’s magic, is always present!
Their music, strong and vulnerable at the same time, will flood the Kallimarmaro Stadium of Athens, in a city which always remember them, with the same passion and the same, everlasting love.
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