FRIGG brought their very individual sounds from their Finnish homeland to The Queen’s Hall Edinburgh tonight as part of their current tour, and they were not quite what I was expecting from this “folk music” band, and that was a good thing.
I have to admit right at the start of this review that, although FRIGG will be celebrating their 20th anniversary as a band next year, this is my first exposure to the band and their music as somehow they have up until now slipped completely under my musical radar. However, if the very busy merchandise stand at the interval was anything to go by, then many people in the audience tonight were already FRIGG fans.
A quick introduction then, the current line-up of the band consists of
JUHO KIVIVUORI, bass
ESKO JÄRVELÄ, violin
PETRI PRAUDA, mandolin, bagpipe and cittern
ANSSI SALMINEN, guitar
ALINA JÄRVELÄ, violin
TOMMI ASPLUND, violin
TERO HYVÄLUOMA, violin
FRIGG the band have taken their name from the Goddess Frigg, who is Odin’s wife and closely connected with all living things.
As you would expect with any folk band, the roots of FRIGG’s music are firmly in the traditions of their native Finland, and the traditional music of many other countries (at times crossing folk music with Americana), and dance music, particularly the rhythms of polkas and waltzes feature heavily throughout their music. What makes FRIGG interesting musically to me is that, whilst retaining and performing their musical heritage, they are also creating their own new music, and often this is fusing music from other cultures and genres into something often unexpected. From an audience perspective, Anssi Salminen on guitar seems to be having the most fun out of everyone with some of these musical explorations such as the AC/DC inspired “Friggin’ Polska”.
For the “FRIGG faithful”, this two hour show (with an interval at roughly 50 minutes) was obviously hitting all the right musical spots with the band playing songs from their first album (FRIGG in 2002) all the way through to their latest album “Joululaulut” (2018). Along the musical story arc with these songs, inspiration for them comes from great fiddlers of the past and present, the imaginary friends that young children often make up, places they have visited on their travels, and of course, homage to that great Finnish institution, “The Sauna” with “Sauna jouluksi”. It’s interesting to note here how in Scotland that refuge away from the world for many men in rural areas can be a remote and sparse hut or “bothy”, a place for at times personal reflection and peace from everything else that is going on in the world. In Finland, that place of refuge is “The Sauna”. I suspect that in Finland though the men-folk emerge from their contemplative refuges a good bit warmer and cleaner than their male counter-parts here
FRIGG have that elusive trick of quickly making their audience feel welcome and part of a bigger social event, and that is always something good to be a part of.
Review by Tom King