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From Flatley to Zappa: Musical May in Stockholm

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Sweden, and Stockholm in particular, are on a well-trodden path when the world's top artists hawk their wares around Europe. David Stavrou looks at the delights on offer in May:

It might have seemingly been around for ever, and it's certainly at the commercialized end of Irish culture, but to millions of fans there's no better night out than watching Michael Flatley kicking his legs in the air in his extravagant arena shows.

The latest Flatley offering, Celtic Tiger will be in Stockholm (Globen, May 23rd) and Karlstad (Löfbergs Lila Arena, May 20th). According to its promoters, Celtic Tiger “is an epic that fuses the spirit and history of Ireland with dance and music”.

Flately, known for his previous Riverdance and Lord of the Dance productions, is an acclaimed dancer and choreographer that brought Irish dance to enormous audiences around the world with catchy music and giant productions.

For the small but fiercely dedicated sect of Swedish Frank Zappa fans, Stocholm's Hovet is the place to be on May 19th. Zappa has been dead for 13 years, but his two sons, singer Ahmet and guitarist Dweezil, are giving his fans a chance to see his music on stage again, assembling what they call “the first official authorized presentation of Frank Zappa music by the Zappa Estate”.

Zappa's music is hard to describe and impossible to define. During more than 30 years there is practically no musical style he didn't experiment with and master.

From the early days of “The Mothers of Invention”, through experimental Jazz and contemporary Classical compositions to music for films, progressive pop, heavy metal and Rock'n'Roll albums, Zappa always supplied focused, versatile and visionary music. He was a genius guitarist and composer but he was known for his wild sense of humor and political activities too (mainly fighting American censorship).

Ahmet and Dweezil are trying to make the legend live on.

“Frank always provided a great alternate perspective of things and it would be great for a newer, younger audience to be exposed to his music” says Dweezil.

Their weird names (their sisters, by the way, are called Moon Unit and Diva Muffin), are not the only eccentric thing about Zappa; he has a spider, a couple of comets and a microbe that causes urinary infections named after him. He was an unofficial cultural attaché in The Czech Republic and three of his songs made Ann Landers' list of the ten most obscene rock songs.

It is probably meaningless to recommend the Stockholm gig though: a real Zappa fan would never take a journalist's recommendation seriously. As Zappa once said, “most rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, for people who can't read”.

Bruce Springsteen introduces his new 17 member Seeger Sessions Band to the Swedish audience at Globen on May 31st. After releasing We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, Springsteen will embark on a short European tour ending in Stockholm.

The concert will be an evening of gospel, folk, and blues music from Springsteen's new project, which consists of personal interpretations of songs associated with the legendary American folk singer, Pete Seeger. The album has been described by Rolling Stone as the veteran rocker's “most jubilant disc since Born in the U.S.A.”.

“It feels like he's turned to the music of our shared past to find a moral compass for a nation that's gone off the rails”. Serious stuff.

To conclude May's musical treats, American country rock hero, Emmylou Harris, will join English guitarist and ex-leader of Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler, to perform songs from their new duets album. All the Road Running was recorded in Nashville during the last seven years and is full of English and American folk influences.

Knopfler's guitar sounds as good as ever and his voice combined with Harris' creates beautiful harmonies which suit the thoughtful lyrics.

“When you combine two unique voices”, Harris told The Independent, “it creates a third, phantom voice. Some of those phantoms are more pleasant than others, but I love the third voice that Mark and I create”. The veteran pair is touring Europe and the US to promote the album and will play one date in Stockholm's Globen on May 30th.

Details

Michael Flately

Karlstad

Löfbergs Lila Arena, 20th May 2006

Tickets 495-550 kronor

Stockholm

Globen, 23rd May 2006

Tickets 445-550 kronor

Zappa

Hovet, Stockholm, 19th May 2006

Tickets 400 kronor

Bruce Springsteen

Globen, Stockholm, 21st May 2006

Tickets 550-600 kronor

Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris

Globen, Stockholm, 30th May 2006

360-430 kronor

Tickets available from Ticnet, www.ticnet.se

David Stavrou

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