Live Review: Frigg – Haymarket, Basingstoke

I don’t imagine that there are going to be a huge wealth of people in this world who can say that they have been to a gig where a man shredded a mandolin so vehemently in a high pitched solo that his strings gave up the ghost. They are probably equally as unlikely to have experienced a human version of Newton’s Cradle comprised entirely of fiddle players. Thanks to Frigg I am one of the people who can proudly say that they have.

Frigg are a polka folk band hailing from Finland with over a decade of experience and a talent that is almost unfathomable. At the tail end of March these Finnish rock stars of folk music brought their talents to the UK shores and set themselves up in the Haymarket, Basingstoke which they promptly treated to a performance that can only really be considered a perfectly timed and immaculate hurricane. They hit the stage like bolt of thunder and brought forth a raucous set of tunes that for a lesser venue just might have blown the doors clean off of their hinges. Frigg are without a doubt one of the most elaborately talented and phenomenal bands I have had the pleasure of seeing live in recent years. The dry, sardonic humour of the group left the audience doubled with laughter during the few small breaks between songs and their vibrant and astounding melodies fluttered through the air like a spring breeze and put a smile on everyone’s face.

One of the most breath-taking things about Frigg is the fluidity of their movement. The band seem to one as one unit, each member knowing precisely where the next will tread and how they will play. Their set revolves around each other, pushing each and every member to the forefront and showing off their talents to the crowd. Lead by four fiddle players they were totally mesmerising to watch as their bows flicked and swished in unison, never a millimetre out of place between them. The tunes they presented to the adoring crowd emanated right from their hearts; taking the venue on a whirlwind tour of emotions with sweet and tender wedding march tunes that were instantly followed by break-neck speed, mad-cap polka tunes that you can’t help but whoop and stomp your feet to. Their skill is unparalleled and their carefully constructed songs feel as natural as taking a breath of fresh air.

It is easy to call Frigg the rock and roll Gods of folk music because after countless years attending gigs of all manners it’s easy to say that I’ve seen very few bands over the years have hit the stage with some power and passion. Their playful nature and raucous tunes could only really be likened to the now retired Bellowhead which in itself is a tremendous mark on just how brightly their enthusiasm shines through what they do. You simply cannot help but allow Frigg to spread a great big Cheshire Cat grin across your face when you see them live. The group played out their sets with playful ease and could easily revel in the enraptured stares of their captivated audience but as their set went on, so too did their aptitude. With each and every song it was as though they were setting themselves a new challenge to see just how fast they could play, just how quickly and deftly their fingers could move. And they bested themselves each and every time. The band left the stage to applause so thunderous that Thor would turn green eith envy and it was with that that band propelled themselves back onto stage one last time for two more tunes that upped the ante once again.

One of the best things about the gig for me was seeing the way the members of Frigg played out their set and interacted with each other. Each of them is clearly a phenomenally talented musician in their own right, but watching them hurl themselves around the stage (and they really do) you get to hear some incredible music while seeing a group of friends who still play with all the vim and vigour that they did over a decade ago.

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Review by Joe Knipe

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