Firstly, thanks to SVT Play, without whom I would be denied the opportunity to see last night's Musikbyrån Live, featuring the wonderful Salem Al Fakir in concert, recorded in Malmo on 25 February 2007.
Anyway I promised a headbanging man in a pullover...and I was right. SVT describes him as a "permanent smiling snowstorm" which kind of sums him up really. Salem is a lively and charismatic performer whose warm personality shines through in his energetic live performances. He never stops smiling and seems to enjoy every minute of what he's doing. His enthusiasm is infectious and it is impossible not to love him.
During the concert we were discussing how he might be too good to break through in the UK, as this country is too cynical and bitter to appreciate someone as genuinely charming and talented. Hopefully we will be wrong, but in the meantime I'm just glad that the Swedes know good music and are not swayed by what's-trendy-this-week.
You couldn't call Salem 'trendy' but you can call him a genius. A brief burst of "Tell Me" kicked off the proceedings then straight into a cracking "Good Song" which strangely is always played early in the live set. followed by the bonkers Focus-style prog-rock instrumental "Two Long Distance to Great Thought". "Dream Girl" has a harder, funkier edge played live whilst retaining its melodic sweetness. Salem introduced "It's True" by calling it his favourite song, and it is the crowd-pleaser of the set. "This Is Who I Am" (with strangely-edited key change!) closed the set before an encore of "Thank You" which he started off on his own before the band joined in.
Very important to mention his excellent band, particularly Gunnar - the cat in the hat - whose bluesy guitar riffs add a different dimension to the songs played live. Initially you wouldn't think that many of the songs on "This Is Who I Am" would work in a live setting, but with this band combined with Salem's wicked piano playing and jazzy, soulful, distinctive vocals, the result is a hugely enjoyable live experience.
Two Long Distance to Great Thought
This Is Who I Am
I've posted the link below, hopefully it should work!! (Have already watched the show twice: presumably will watch it at least another 300 times, SVT Play permitting!)