'Come in, come in'..... a small blond haired gentleman is ushering us into a tiny room at the Castle Hotel, as if he was welcoming us into his Living Room. But before he even makes us a cup of tea or offers us cake, hes bounding to the stage whilst chattering to all around him. This is Moddi, Norwegian song writer from the Island of Senja, and its clear hes not the silent contemplative type - he introduces himself before he starts, and then manages 5 words before mentioning Senja and stops to remind us thats where he's from.
Its been 4 years since Moddi last toured the Uk, this time a series of 8 gigs at small venues across the UK. The Castle Hotel is perfect for the occasion, and accompanied by cellist Katrine Schiøtt we are provided with a captivating hour of songs and chat - mainly about lyrics and his reasons for songwriting. Mannen i Ausa, translated into English for the 1st time, tells the story of 2 young fishermen who catch a dead body and use it as bait, only to be found out and burned for their greed. Vocally its perfectly delivered, and the storytelling is so powerful you feel Moddi could grace the halls of the Lady of Lothlórien herself.
He asks for requests and 'A sense of Grey' is asked for, a simply beautiful song, even if he seems suprised than an English audience would want to hear it. The importance of Moddis storytelling is then perfectly demonstrated again in Eli Geva, lyrics rescued from Norwegian folksinger Birgitte Grimstad who never had the opportunity to sing her song about the Israeli Officer who defied orders, because concert organisers in Israel wouldnt let her. We all remain transfixed, the small audience never moves or speaks.
The importance of Katrine Schiøtt in this stripped back Moddi line-up can't be under estimated either. Many artists use a Cello, but Schiøtt adds so much and with great expression, it seems a perfect combination. After a discussion on prejudice and racism, he leaves us with some thoughts on Norwegian Oil exploration and some Moddi favourites, Rubbles, House by the Sea and the Architect, and everyone leaves happy.
To see Moddi in such a small intimate venue is simply a privilege. We all knew his brilliance as a songwriter beforehand, but hes a storyteller too, a passionate activist and promoter of values he holds close to him. We just hope its not another 4 years until we see him again.