A magical night in Frognerparken
The Boss, 38,000 Norwegians, my son, and me
“En, to, en, to, tre, fire!”
The standard Springsteen countdown is shouted, and then the sunny Oslo evening is filled with the joyous sound of Bruce and the E Street Band tearing into “Meet Me In The City.” It is July 28, 2016, and our family has been residing in Norway for less than a week. Upon our arrival in Oslo, I spied a sign for the concert and I took to Finn.no (the local Craigslist) and found two tickets for sale. Being Norway, the tickets for the sold-out show were being resold at face value—that is “Norway in a nutshell.” With our tickets secured and our “Born in the USA” T-shirts on (get it?), my son Luke and I hopped onto the trikk (tram) to Frogner for pizza and then to the park to see The Boss.
Springsteen’s stage is set in the corner of Frogner Park, and the majority of fans are standing in a clearing bordered by rows of trees that serve as a natural amphitheater. The place is electric, and my 10-year-old son’s eyes are huge, as are mine. Bruce is playful and engaging as he works his way through a track-bytrack celebration of “The River” which was released 35 years ago. The Norwegian crowd, fueled by Hansa beer and the midsummer sun, sings along to each chorus, dances to every solo, and generally has the best time ever. Through the magic of Facebook, I become aware of my Andalsnes cousins, and then am able to track them down, and we meet midway through for a beer.
The beauty of Springsteen’s music is that it covers almost every aspect of life, from love to loss, dreams to reality, fear to resolution, and justice coupled with pain and suffering. The Boss’s words were particularly poignant for us, as we had just left our Colorado home for an extended stay in Norway, with all the trepidation that goes with being away from your extended family and friends.
It is a very special night that ends with the band treating the crowd to a greatest hits mini-set that includes “The Rising,” “Born in the USA,” “The Promised Land,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out,” and, of course, “Born to Run.” At the end, as we all orderly file out and move toward the T-bane Metro, as the crowd buzzes with the kind of energy only found when large numbers gather together. We make our way back to our new apartment with sore throats and high expectations for an unforgettable year in Norway.
Nate’s Norway Springsteen Playlist:
1. “Born to Run”: capturing that restless Viking spirit that craves movement and escape.
2. “Dancing in the Dark”: a fitting tune for November to February, when sunlight is scarce.
3. “Thunder Road”: my favorite Springsteen song, which is on every playlist.
4. “We Shall Overcome”: Springsteen played this song at the one-year anniversary memorial to July 22 in 2012, an event that still casts a long shadow over Norway. Springsteen had performed the night before at Valle Hovin in Oslo.
5. “Badlands”: “It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.”
6. “Born in the USA”: the song we played the morning we moved back. We were glad to be coming home but continue to feel the pull back to Norway.
7. “Across the Border”: my favorite deep cut. A song about movement, loss and finding a better place.
8. “Tougher Than the Rest”: romance in the real world.
9. “Living Proof”: another deep catalog rocker.
10. “Growin’ Up”: our kids’ theme song.
Nate Axvig lived in Oslo with his family for a year. When they returned, he started an online store with his wife Leslie where they import the very best of Scandinavian clothing. Check it out at aktivstyle.com.
This article originally appeared in the October 4, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.