Great Music; Bad Food

Allsang pa Skansen - the national Swedish sing-a-long program - during Europride.
Allsang pa Skansen - the national Swedish sing-a-long program - during Europride.

So I went online this morning looking for ferry tickets from Stockholm to Tallin, based on the advice given to me in my dream yesterday by that nice Norwegian travel agent. I am sure he was right about the ferry being very nice and romantic and all that, and the woman at the youth hostel today told me something similar, but they were both wrong about one thing: the price.

As with other internal European flights, I’ve found it’s much better, cheaper and faster to fly than to sit on some dreary ferry or train for hours on end. I’ve realised at this point in my life that I’m someone who much prefers the destination and experience to the journey and the travel.

So I’m flying to Tallin next Wednesday morning and I’ve booked into – what seems on the internet – a reasonably modern and clean hostel. I’ve only booked three days at this stage, just in case it turns out to be terrible, or I get bored senseless.

That gives me about a week to squeeze everything in. And for most of that week, that means seeing some great Swedish music.

A case in point was going to Allsang pa Skansen again tonight. I went a couple of weeks ago for the rehearsal, but didn’t stay for the main show.

I arrived at about 5.30 and watched the remainder of the rehearsal, which included BWO, Bodies without Organs, performing “Lay Your Love On Me” which was terrific.

I then grabbed a beer and something to eat. I settled on a Swedish favourite, a meat ball and potato dish, along with a light beer. At half the price of a standard beer, and at 2.2% alcohol, I’ve found it’s been more than enough for me as I’ve travelled around Sweden.

But while getting the food, I saw another Swedish culinary creation which I couldn’t help but marvel at: chicken with nachos. I mean, last night I ate at a Thai restaurant where they had the chop-stick option (they don’t have chop-sticks in Thailand to the best of my knowledge), and it was pretty lame Pad Thai, with a Swedish salad on the side. And then I saw this bizzare combination tonight of a BBQ chicken drumstick (skin removed) on a plate with corn chips, guacomole and sour-cream. I think there’s an opening for an Australian celebrity chef on television here.

By the time I finished my meal, the show was about ready to begin. Well, the pre-show warm up, which is about thirty minutes long before the program goes live to air.

As I’ve previously mentioned, the premise for the show is community singing. And it occurred to me that in a largely secular society, this is probably the modern manifestation of what used to occur in churches. Though instead they sing popular Swedish songs of the last fifty or sixty’years. There was one tonight about a “Flicka fran Smaland” (girl from Smaland, a beautiful region of Sweden), that probably has as much cultural currency in Sweden as, for example, “The Road To Gundagai”.

Tonight, however, also had a Europride theme. There were drag queens, comedy sketches with a gay-theme, and BWO who have written the theme song for Europride, “Bells Of Freedom”. As a song, I think it’s pretty lame, and not up to the usual standard. I’m pleased they also did another song for the tv show, and then one just for the audience at Skansen.

And what an audience it was. Thousands and thousands of people. Most of them incredibly tall. The third tallest nation on earth, after Norway and Holland, apparently. And most with children on their shoulders, making it a little hard for me to see sometimes. And if it wasn’t the kids on dad’s shoulders, it was a bunch of poofs with rainbow flags :)

I was really pleased to see BWO live. They have great fun songs and the crowd really loved them. Martin Rolinski, the lead singer, is also surprisingly good looking. He was always a bit blonde and bland for my taste, but then I saw him in real life. and was quite impressed. The woman in the band also looks like a real hoot, and you see more of her personality live on stage than you do in the clips. Alexander Bard is… well… Alexander Bard.

Allsang is a really great show and I wish we had something like this in Australia. Of course, our TV execs would turn it into a reality show of some sort, and you’d have SMS voting and all the associated crap. I think it’s a bit like Countdown was for us back in the 70s, something a bit daggy, but also a bit fun the whole family could enjoy together.

Anyhoo I better get some sleep as Europride starts in force tomorrow. Tomorrow night, I’m seeing ABBA cover band, Arrival. I’m told they’re the best ABBA cover band going.

One Reply to “Great Music; Bad Food”

  1. Hi James,

    Firstly I have to say as I’m stuck here in Adelaide during winter, I’m really enjoying your posting from sunny summer in Sweden. I was there this time last year and your writing is really doing it justice! And making me envious ;)

    Secondly – last year I saw BDO in concert and have to concur – I never thought much of Martin until I saw him live – Wow!!!

    Thirdly – everyone I know who has travelled to Tallin has loved it so I’m sure you are doing the right thing.

    Keep up the great posts!!


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