Bruce Springsteen: ‘We shall overcome’

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

American rock legend Bruce Springsteen turned up as predicted at Sunday night’s memorial concert in Oslo for the victims and survivors of attacks on Norway one year ago. He had a clear message for his Norwegian audience in the song he chose to perform along with band partner Steven Van Zandt, “We shall overcome.”

Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt made a guest appearance at a memorial concert in Oslo Sunday night, for victims of last year’s terrorist attacks.

Springsteen is in Norway for three sold-out concerts that are part of his Wrecking Ball Tour in Europe this summer. He, Van Zandt and the rest of the E Street Band played before a sold-out crowd of around 40,000 at the Valle Hovin arena in Oslo Saturday night, with two more sold-out concerts planned in Bergen Monday and Tuesday nights.

But he and Van Zandt were free on Sunday, and speculation had flown for months that they’d perform at the memorials. They came on stage late in the outdoor concert on the plaza in front of City Hall (Rådhusplassen), before what police said was a crowd estimated at 50,000 to 60,000. They had gathered in pouring rain and unseasonably cold wind to hear a string of locally well-known performers, and then got an extra treat.

“Steven and I are honoured to be included here tonight,” Springsteen told the crowd, which included top politicians and members of the Royal Family on the sidelines and other Norwegians waving roses up front. He said they were sending out a “prayer for a peaceful future for Norway,” and “all of us who love democracy and tolerance.” He dedicated the song to the families who lost loved ones.

The duo came onstage just before the last act, by popular Norwegian folk singer Lillebjørn Nilsen, and it was a subdued performance that didn’t overshadow the other acts. The concert itself, arranged by the government and free of charge, was meant to be part of the healing process after a year of grief following the deaths of 77 persons in the attacks on July 22, 2011.

Both Springsteen and Van Zandt had earlier condemned the attacks and expressed sympathy for Norwegians. Van Zandt is especially fond of Norway, not least after spending months in the country while working on the hit TV series Lilyhammer, which aired on NRK last winter.

Sunday’s concert began with a memorable performance by popular Norwegian trumpet player Tine Thing Helseth, standing outdoors on top of the adjacent City Hall and playing Mitt lille land (My little country) by Ole Paus, which had a resurgence in popularity following the attacks. The concert ended with a unique arrangement of another classic, Til undommen (To the youth) by Nordahl Grieg, featuring a unique musical interplay between Norwegian Broadcasting’s orchestra and the carillon atop the adjacent City Hall.

For video of Helseth’s performance and more from NRK’s concert, go to NRK’s own Nett-TV site, and click on the list for the Nasjonal minnekonsert 22.7.12

The concert followed a long day of memorial ceremonies that began Sunday morning on the first anniversary of the attacks. Wreath-laying a speeches at the site of the bombing of government headquarters was followed by special church services and memorials all over the country that were attended by members of the royal family and government leaders. Many survivors of the massacre on Utøya, and family members of victims, also gathered back on the island Sunday afternoon before the concert began at 8pm.

When the memorials were over, Oslo was left decorated with thousands of roses once again, left around the city by those who’d carried roses and other flowers to the ceremonies. There was another growing pile of flowers and candelights outside the Oslo Cathedral, as well as at the heavily damaged government complex downtown.

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