After finishing up our tour of the states in November, the 5 violinists flew out to Denmark to join Danish singer Stig Rossen (pronounced “steeg rosen”) on his Christmas tour. I know I’ve mentioned him previously in this blog, but first a quick refresher on Stig’s background. Stig’s first claim to fame came about portraying the role of Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables” on London’s West End (the British equivalent of Broadway), and his vocal style encompasses many different musical genres (e.g. musical theatre, jazz, etc.). Also, it’s important to note just how famous Stig is in Denmark. It’s tough to find a comparison because so many American/English performers also enjoy worldwide fame, but I’d estimate he’s the equivalent of Celine Dion to Canada, Billy Joel to the US, or Elton John to England—that is, he’s one of the most well-known and influential singers in his home country.
On his tour we performed as his guest artists, performing 4 of our own Christmas tunes (i.e. Jingle Bells, We Three Kings, A Winter’s Tale, and The Christmas Song, the latter two of which we perform with Stig on our Christmas album), as well as backing him up on 5 of his own songs. Because the backline didn’t come to Denmark with us, we performed with his musicians, which was incredibly awesome. Not only were all of his musicians ridiculously talented, but they were all hilarious, generous, kind, and very well-versed in the English language, which made interacting with the band very easy. All in all, we performed 32 shows in 24 days, travelling literally all over the country of Denmark, playing to very packed (and usually sold out) crowds in the best concert halls and venues in Denmark.
Because we had at least one performance every day (and sometimes two or three), we very much lived a “life on the road” in the way that it seems most people seem to imagine it: perform, go to the hotel, check out the next morning, hop on the tour bus, socialize or nap through the drive, and arrive at the next venue a few hours before show time. (Barrage is already somewhat like that, but we have more days without performances and no tour bus, both of which I find significantly alter the tour dynamic.)
It was such a blast being in Denmark. Some of my favorite things included:
- Danish breakfasts (and meals in general)
- the incredible skill level of all the musicians
- the crew, who worked like madmen to get everything in order, and were also unbelievably great people
- the Danes
- performing with Stig every night
Stig, besides having an incredible voice, is a performer’s performer, genuinely pouring 100% of his soul and being into every word of every song. I’ll admit, sometimes it’s tough to smile so much when you’re on stage all the time—when I was on stage with Stig, however, it was impossible to not smile because he was having so much fun. Performing with him was certainly one of the highlights of my musical “career,” professional or otherwise. He’ll be joining us for about a week in late February as a guest artist on our tour here in the states, and I can’t wait to perform with him again!
As author of this blog, I find myself inclined to also report on interesting cultural differences which I experience travelling with Barrage. From a performer’s viewpoint, one of the most fascinating things about Danes is how they act as an audience. How any crowd comports itself is very much related to various factors, including age, gender, and region (e.g. younger crowds tend to be more boisterous, while older crowds tend to be quieter but more appreciative). The Danes do not show extreme enthusiasm and appreciation by giving standing ovations as American audiences do; rather, the Danes spontaneously and collectively synchronize their applause, clapping to a beat as though the band were still playing. There are two crazy things about how this actually happens: 1) the alignment of clapping occurs in about 3-5 seconds, and 2) the tempo reached collectively by the audience is more or less the same throughout all of Denmark (I’d estimate it around 120 beats per minute, or the tempo of Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”). Though normal for the Danes, it’s quite an extraordinary thing to witness and experience!
Below are some pictures from my time in Denmark.
This was my favorite snack in Demark: Haribo gummy candy and Matilde chocolate milk.
Some town square in the middle of a Danish city...I don't remember the name though.
Looking out over Copenhagen from my hotel room.
With a bunch of the band members on the bus.
The poster for the concert.
L to R: Annette, Jason, John (our Danish agent), Swedish superstar Carola (she was a guest artist for 2 shows), Stig, Kristina, Sarah and myself
Playing one of our tunes.