Norway’s armed and absinthian continentals, the remarkable Kaizers Orchestra, embark on the "Maestro Grand Finale Tour." This tour terminates a long period of intense activity and many triumphs, including a warmly received album and live film and, most recently, a fast selling photo-biography depicting the band in their right setting: igniting European crowds.
After the release of their third full length studio album Maestro last year, Kaisers Orchestra –that Norwegian musical manifestation of South-Eastern European brigandage- has been criss-crossing Norway and Europe performing in characteristic style; with benzene energy and the endurance of Cossacks. The highlight of last year’s extensive touring was two sold out nights at the band’s favourite venue, Copenhagen’s club Vega. The second night was caught on film in a massive fourteen-camera production, which was released this summer as the live-DVD “Viva la Vega.”
This week they embarked on a terminal “Maestro Grand Finale Tour,” which will revisit some of the band’s most important European strongholds, such as Copenhagen, and fill in some gaps from last year's behemoth European road trip. The Grand Finale Tour will be the last live playing the band will undertake for a long period of time. A new record is scheduled for the winter/spring of 2008 and until then, informs their web-site, they will spend their time composing, rehearsing and focusing on solo projects. A telling sign of their popularity is that the upcoming show at Vega on December 8th was sold out three months in advance, making the band schedule an extra show. The attraction of this band is something way out of the ordinary, drawing crowds as to a unique spectacle, something more than a concert, and it is exactly the unique live experience that is conveyed on the aforementioned DVD.
The film was hungrily received by fans and critics, and most found that it does indeed capture that most significant trait of this band; their unrivalled on-stage performance. This is constituted by special energy and dedication, as well as audacious musicality, and thus “Kaizers live” sets forth the true nature of the music they make. Because the essence of this music is a specific kind of mind-set; a human condition and phenomenology that belongs to the time-space of strife: combustible idealism and nationalism, impending threat, dissolution; the overturning of truths, the upheaval of values, and thus the existential unpredictability and also emotional ecstasy that these circumstances infuse into man and his expressions. It is often associated with the Balkans and the specific romantic volatility that a thousand years of being the (involuntary/mercenary) gatekeeper of Europe has embedded into the South Slav mind.
This complex nature is conveyed with perhaps the highest fidelity in music, or at least it is most recognizable for westerners in the abstract energy of music. And it is this subtle truth that the Norwegians in Kaizers Orchestra make use of in making the soundscapes and emotions of Eastern Europe their vehicle of expression. With such a profoundly European heart to their music, it was perhaps inevitable that they should be the first band singing in Norwegian to really “conquer the continent.” But it is their live performances that make all the difference, because only on stage can the dark-madly pounding, yet jubilar heart of their music become manifestly true. It is an eerie thing: on record the band displays some truly original song-writing, a rare melodic vein and a sense of magnificent orchestration -and in this a deep understanding of the aforementioned musical and emotional subject matter is unveiled- but it is only on stage that the core of this subject matter becomes alive and manifest rather than understood and conveyed. At least this is the verdict of both critics and fans: the magic of “Kaizers” is bound to the stage. Only there, with their mind-boggling energy and bedevilled appearance does the essence of their music come into full bloom. It is this fact; the combination of a unique live band and the way it conditions a unique artistic essence, that has won them so many followers outside their home country, -followers entangled in the mysteries of this band: “What is it that band leader Janove, “The Jackal Kaizer,” sings about?, ("we recognize the reference and the mood but not the words"), and how can it be that these guys are in fact Norwegian?" Such questions, posed with keen enthusiasm, always fill he air when Kaizers appear in continental contexts, for it seems a fantastic thing for (eastern) Europeans that the subtleties of their culture and music should be brought forth so arrestingly by a group of Norsemen.
The current Maestro Grand Finale Tour will first take the band around Norway and Sweden before they go south to their beloved continent and round off in Denmark in the second week of December. It will feature several new songs as well as a special artistic gimmick: each night bassist Øyvind “Thunder Kaizer” will paint an impressionistic work on stage, capturing his experience of the specific night. The painting will then be auctioned away after the concert.