Schlager Paradise

I have woken this morning with a slight hang-over. Not an outrageously bad one, though. Yes, I had quite a few beers and wines and a reasonably late night. But I’ve also had a pretty good sleep in, and so I feel reasonably good. And the reason for all of this was Melodifestivalen, the Swedish final leading to the Eurovision Song Contest.

Having watched the show via download or DVD for the last few years, I was keen to see it in its natural environment – a Stockholm gay bar. And so last night I went to Torget, claimed a pretty good standing place with an excellent view of the big screen, and had the time of my life, watching and enjoying the show along with 100 or so of my closest Swedish friends. “Har du favourit?”, the bloke next to me asked me early in the night. And I told him, all of the songs were good, except I didn’t really like the one by Andres Jonsson.

For an hour or so the crowd watched intensely as the performers came on, sang their songs as if their lives depended on it, and then disappeared to await the results of both juries and a public vote through phone and SMS. Honestly, it was nail biting, as I watched the results come through. For a while, “Keep On Walking” was right out there, and if it had won, I would not have been disappointed. And then “Manboy” (or Man Boobs, as I’ve started to call it) was right out there. But of course, the lovely Anna won. And judging by the response in the bar I went to, it was a choice most Swedes were obviously happy with. In fact, later in the night, as I was waiting to catch the t-bana home, some random woman and I shared a brief karaoke moment to the winning song… “This is my life…” (det var jetta bra sang! i told her).

When the show ended I stayed for a brief moment, and after faffing around, weighing up the pros and cons of going to another bar, Paradise, I eventually did so. And I’m so pleased I did, as the bar had planned a special schlager night, with appearances by two of my favourite Swedish singers, Shirley Clamp and Nanne Gronvall, and two others, Neo, who I think is quite good, and another singer who I am still not sure of the name of.

Nanne, in particular, was unbelievable. I’ve seen her perform on DVD and Youtube, but I was absolutely blown away by her life performance. She sings wonderfully, and with incredible passion, and there’s a bit of the Tina Turner in her dance style. Shirley Clamp, also, was wonderful, and I enjoyed her very much. But of course, having a prime position at the front of the stage, how could I not enjoy them? For a half hour so, maybe forty-five minutes, the audience was in heaven as these wonderful performers gave their all. After the show I even had a dance.

So, understandably, this morning I’ve woken with a slightly sore head. But gosh it was a wonderful night. One of life’s musical highlights indeed. And although the three o’clock closure was slightly unexpected, it was probably a good thing all round.

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