In a concert replete with spectacle and grandeur the most memorable moment arrives, fittingly, at the conclusion: while Kent pound out the last notes to the epic “Mannen i den vita hatten” (“The Man in the White Hat”), with the stage bathed in sodium light, gigantic blowers spew out white confetti over the 20,000 strong crowd creating a stunning blizzard effect.
It’s a breathtaking visage and the audience respond, appropriately enough, by pounding their fists into the air, cheering and giving rapturous applause. Surely this is how all arena rock concerts should end.
Two hours earlier the band began their set with a track from their 13 year old debut album, “Stenbrott” a heavy hit to the head which liberally borrows “Creep”‘s guitar crunch, which instantly had the audience eating out of their hands. The familiarity with such an old track, and indeed every other one, including the new as yet unreleased anthem “Håll Ditt Huvud Högt” (“Hold Your Head Up High”), proved just how big a drawcard Kent are in their home country. Joakim Berg reveled in being the focal point, stalking the stage and pounding his fist into his chest, while having the smarts to let the audience take over vocal duties when the time was right. The rear screen projection of his face, courtesy of a microphone camera, was motion sickness inducing but provided the show with a “Bono” moment. Sami Sirviö meanwhile proved he was a guitar virtuoso outside as well as inside the studio; his thick start-stop riffs and solos were exquisite, raising the volume to levels that threatened to liquefy one’s internal organs.
A lengthy twenty song set allowed Kent to cherry pick the best selections from their seven album career; from the Radiohead meets Blur guitar pop of the first three albums to Depeche Mode sprinkled New Order electronic rock of their last three, including a wealth of material from last year’s Tillbaka till Samtiden. Only selections from 2000’s transitory Hagnesta Hill were absent, a shame for this first time kent live viewer but not seemingly a concern for anyone else.
A great set isn’t achieved by luck and prowess alone. Kent have always kept a keen eye on quality control throughout their career — they have yet to record a bad album, or even average album and new songs such as “Ingenting” (“Nothing”) rank among their best. They maybe barely known outside of Scandinavia, an unsuccessful attempt was made to break the US and UK with English versions of Isola and Hangesta Hill, but with nearly two million records snapped up in the Nordic regions and sold out arenas tours like this (their second in twelve months) I don’t think the band lose too much sleep over it.
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Håll ditt huvud högt
Mannen i den vita hatten