Monday, 20 April 2009

Salem at Trädgår'n, Gothenburg, Saturday 18th April 2009 - My review.

Set list:

Twelve Fingers
Cold Shower
Devil Look
Good Song
It's Only You (Part II)
Brooklyn Sun
Bluest Eyes
Now's The Time
Dream Girl
It's True

One Of The Others
Thank You

Since I became a fan of Salem Al Fakir and his music almost two years ago, I had dreamed of this moment - to see him live in concert. On Saturday night, that dream finally came true.

Of course a perfect evening was made even better by my other dream coming true - meeting Salem. (But I'm not going to talk about that for a change....this post is all about my review of the concert!)

The venue for Saturday night's show was the Trädgår'n club (pictured above) which was just 10 minutes walk from our hotel. It's a great big wooden building which hosts the club, the bar and restaurant. The capacity is maybe about 1000 or so (I think?) and it was certainly a well-attnded show. What particularly pleased me was the wide age-range of the fans, which just proves that Salem's music appeals to all age groups.

Missed the support act, Jonna Lee, as I was chatting to Salem at the time :) anyway I'm sure she put on a very good show as she's received good reviews from the critics during the current tour.

I was glad it was a standing rather than seated venue, as this enabled us to get very near the front of the stage (about three rows back from the stage anyway). It was great to be able to see Salem and the band 'up close' on stage. Salem always encourages the audience to participate but most of the time we don't need encouragement! Needless to say, I was singing along with every song, dancing, clapping and jumping around - of course!

Unfortunately the photos I took of Salem and the band on stage were very blurry, so I've only included a couple here, sorry for the poor quality:

(There are many better and more professional stage photos from Salem's current tour at and - as well as on various other blogs of course - check them out!)

Salem and the band came onstage at 10.00 pm and launched into "Twelve Fingers" which is such a great, lively start to the show: immediate proof that Salem has grown into such a strong and confident live performer. He is singing better than ever, and his charisma and talent is never in any doubt.

Salem was dressed in his tour-outfit of white shirt, cream braces and cream trousers. Of course I will have to mention his nice curly hair which has now grown a little: although it is still shorter than it used to be, but I like this new style and I hope he keeps it like that.

To begin with, Salem stood at the microphone but it wasn't long before he was moving around the stage like the Salem that we know and love. Although some reviewers have commented that Salem's stage act isn't as manic as it once was, he certainly doesn't sit still or stand still for too long....and he's still headbanging!!

"Cold Shower" next - and even though this is a relatively new song, it is already becoming very popular with the audience, many of whom were already singing along. Apart from Salem's skill and versatility as a live performer, much of the credit has to go to his wonderful band, all extremely talented and versatile musicians in their own right, who always support Salem with solid and effortless musical excellence:

Jakob Birgersson (bass)
Nisse Wallfält (drums)
Robert Östlund (guitar/keyboards)
David Nyström (keyboards)

Credit must also go to Salem's sound man Internal Dread who provided an excellent mix and I particularly liked those little dub-effects and echoes during various songs which gave a new slant on some old and new favourites.

The bulk of the current live set is made up with songs from the new album, but the next two songs were from "This Is Who I Am": Salem sat down at his keyboard for a deliciously fast and funky "Devil Look" - I couldn't stop dancing to this! Then, to my favourite Salem song of all: "Good Song", which was the cue for a massive audience singalong. If I only had one minor complaint, I would say that it was played too early in the set - it should have been played later on, but that's just my personal taste.

"It's Only You (Part II)" was next, with its distinctive keyboard loops and Salem in great voice. This song has clearly become an audience favourite too.

"Mirror" provided Salem and the band with a chance to rock out, this song has really grown on me now. I liked his little looks over at Jakob when he was singing some of the lyrics - I thought that was quite funny.

After this, the band left the stage and Salem put on his acoustic guitar, to sing the (unreleased) "Brooklyn Sun". When I met Salem I told him how much I liked this song, and how I found it extremely moving. Tonight was no different: Salem's voice ached with longing in the final chorus, and the lump in my throat just got bigger.

The band returned and it was straight into "Astronaut", the current single: an effortless and lovely performance of the song.

I got the feeling that many in the crowd may not have been as familiar with "Bluest Eyes" although this is one of my favourite tracks on the new album. This was a chance for Salem's band to really shine, and they did: special mentions here for David's sparkly keyboard lines and Robert's excellent guitar solo towards the end of the song.

The rock-theme continued with "Now's The Time". It was great to see Salem absolutely hammering his guitar too - he totally rocked!

One particular aspect of Salem's live show is the effortless way that one song leads directly into another - and the segue from "Now's The Time" into "Dream Girl" was particularly inspired.

Aah, "Dream Girl". Another one of everyone's all-time Salem favourites: and another exceptional performance with Salem sitting at the piano, playing that refrain. Fantastic....and it led right into "It's True" which of course is the ultimate fan-favourite. Everyone clapped and sang at the top of their voices, and there was a very funny moment when Salem mixed up the order of the verses and totally confused everyone!!

After two established classics, the show was brought to a close with a future classic...."Roxy" which has crowd-pleaser written all over it. I love his cheeky little smile when he is singing the first verse, and his hand-gesturing at "just use your hands instead".

After an hour, it was all over, bar the encores. The first encore-song being "One Of The Others". I just screamed when this came on, as it's my favourite song on Salem's new album. A great performance too, and I loved the middle-section which Salem played on the piano in a totally classical style, and just like Salem I was smiling all the way through that part too.

Salem and the band left the stage again, but the audience just wouldn't let them they came back for one final number, the traditional concert-ending "Thank You", which really was the final song. "...I just wanna thank you all for listening/and I hope we all can get back again".

And I do too Salem.

As I said in an earlier post, this was probably the best night of my life, and it's the best live concert that I've ever seen. A fantastic show packed with past, present and future hits crafted by a truly unique and magical performer: Salem Al Fakir. The world's best kept musical secret.

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