“Popical”: Loney, dear with Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Stenhammar Hall, Gothenburg
December 3, 2010
How do you rate a life-changing experience? This was not the first five-star Loney, dear show I saw, but the emotional impact of Emil Svanängen’s outing with (parts of) the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra leaves the rest of those concerts far behind. In fact, I’ve never felt anything remotely like this on any concert with any artist. I will try to capture something about that feeling below.
Firstly, for a high-brow setting like a concert hall, Emil’s approach seemed almost audaciously relaxed. He walked to and fro, picking up the instruments he felt like playing for the moment, interacting with the orchestra and his band, and not least with the crowd. You could hardly anticipate when a given song would start or end, or even what to expect at all. Almost unnoticably, we were brought deeper and deeper into the music, to the point where time stopped.
We all know the Matrix movies, how Neo is able to bend the flow of time so as to avoid streams of bullets aimed at him. Everything around him happens at its ordinary pace, but for Neo it’s like slow-motion. Emil Svanängen seemed to be doing something similar, supremely mastering every single note that was played or sang, as if there was all the time in the world to make the next move. Moreover, the crowd was there with him, unaffected by the time passing by in the world outside.
It was, I think, during “Under A Silent Sea” that I noticed. Emil asked the crowd to hum a high note to accompany the melody, then a few fast chord changes and that fragile yet so powerful voice: “Sing me again, make me sure you’re there.” The sound opened my heart wide. An invisible hand was performing surgery on my soul, healing heartaches, failures and disappointments. Something in me, something perfectly tangible, was cured there and then. This operation lasted all the way through the concert. Now, three weeks later, the effects are still present.
“Dear John”, that soothing lullaby, was not the last song in the set, but I would like to close this account by trying to recall how those high falsetto notes created a portal to a place beyond joy and grief and how we all entered there. What it is like to enter bullet time.