A cold experience in the north

The Bobby Hughes Experience Featuring Santessa | Quart 2000 Festival, Kristiansand, Norway
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Once the long winter has passed Norway's youth like to get out (of it) as much as possible, and the Quart festival, held in the country's favourite seaside resort, is now in its ninth year, mainly held in a park by the shore, and manageably human in scale. It's very different from the hedonism of its British equivalents.

Once the long winter has passed Norway's youth like to get out (of it) as much as possible, and the Quart festival, held in the country's favourite seaside resort, is now in its ninth year, mainly held in a park by the shore, and manageably human in scale. It's very different from the hedonism of its British equivalents.

This most restrictive of societies still sees fit to separate the crowd by their predilections. While an Oasis soundalike band headline the main arena, segregation means that the drinkers - and they are legion - are corralled into a corner, while non-imbibers get a closer view.

Luckily, Bergen's Bobby Hughes Experience played at one of the ancillary indoor venues, in the ballroom of a hideous local landmark, the Caledonien Hotel. Supposedly their name comes from a nom de foot used by their leader, DJ and sample-meister Espen Horne during his period as a reserve goalkeeper for Wigan Athletic: when he was studying at a local college and subject to immigration rules as a non-EEC citizen, he had to hide his identity. Can this possibly be true?

What is indisputably true is that BHE are a fantastically funky live experience. Horne leads from the decks, aided by drum loops and a sampler while his highly competent band cook up a storm.

A great bass player switches between stand-up and electric models, a flautist cannot solve the eternal question of what to do when not blowing, while the excellent organist, tonight sadly bereft of an original Hammond to match the company's logo tattooed on his arm, is riveting throughout, notably when using his substitute keyboard as a percussive tool. "Seasons" and, especially, "Brazil Beat" were outstanding.

The entrance of London-based chanteuse Santessa was greeted with all the enthusiasm to be expected when an attractive woman in powder blue, alligator skin, stiletto-heeled cowboy boots totters on. Versions of "Phased" and "Eyes On You" from her recent Delirium album outdo their rather politer recorded counterparts, but it's on the BHE's own "French Brother" where her improvised vocals came into their own. This impromptu collaboration promises much should they continue to work together.

It's something of a triumph then, best encapsulated by the moment when a wired looking stage invader (unusual in itself here) apologised to the weedy bouncer who'd earlier hurled him back into the crowd to spill some overpriced beers. Even the wheelchair-bound were (sort of) dancing. Swinging Norway? Great stuff.

Comments