Scandinavian pop is known for its melancholic subtext, although not necessarily sound. And so it was fitting that the biggest - and best - performance at this year's Oya Festival, held in a surprisingly compact park space with hills conveniently doubling as spectator stands, would be the Queen of pop noir, Lana del Rey. While she brought summertime sadness to the land of long winters it was sweetened by the Hollywood glamour packaging, including film clips mimicing that decade of cultural doom, the 1950s. I guess sadness sells if you sugarcoat it, much as Abba once brought their own slice of melancholy to the same lands shrouded in joyous, uptempo melodies. And didn't the crowd love it, not least the teenagers who seemed captivated by the untouchable movie star persona on stage, even when she got down with the lucky few at the front and joined them for selfies. Her manager must have been livid - "no Lana, nobody can touch you (except me)". The style, if not the mode of delivery, was classically influenced, baroque style pop, suggesting that her next incarnation should be in front of a full-blown orchestra. Very good though.
The first day unleashed an unremitting thunderstorm and the plummeting temperature made it into kind of an endurance test, especially sinceI too tried to get up close and personal with Lana. Or maybe I should just get out more. Yours truly managed to catch a cold in the middle of summer. But who am I to complain? I was just there for a few days.
Elsewhere, there was the usual festival melange, from heavy metal to power punk pop (is that what it's called?) to the occasional charming and arresting stripped down set. I was particularly captivated by Nils Bech, a local talent, singing and miming his way through songs of tortured ennui. You could almost see the leaves turn brown as he sang. And then he was joined by a huge inflatable doll with lip gloss - no kidding! Strange Hellos were another enjoyable discovery - nothing unusual about their blend of guitars and synths but the melodies were distinctive and enticing.
Ryan Adams was on hand on the penultimate day to re-inject some star power into proceedings, although his performance and presence were so low key you could have been forgiven for thinking he was still up and coming. Perhaps that's why he's recorded 20 albums - nothing like the feeling you haven't quite made it yet to motivate you. Then, for the third time on my concert tour, there were the Pixies, one of the most unique bands in the history of Rock and with enough variety in their back catalogue to keep anyone enthralled. Nothing beats original songwriting, including a beautiful singer with style and swagger to burn. Even with a plane to catch a few hours later.
Here then is my Spotify playlist for Oya 2017: Oya 2017 on Spotify