GIG REVIEW: KEiiNO, Michael Rice, Laurell & Ari Olafsson at Heaven

By Neil Durham


WHEN?: Saturday April 15 2023

KEiiNO SETLIST: Unbreakable; Dancing In The Smoke; Would I Lie?; Praying; Mother Of The Night; Shallow; Joik solo; Nights Of Thunder; I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me); Colours; Black Leather; On A Night Like This; Monument; the Sun Always Shines On TV; Spirit In The Sky

KEiiNO may only have won the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest televote rather than the event outright but it’s testament to the band’s popularity that nearly 4 years later they can almost fill this prestigious nightclub venue in the heart of London.

  • Read on for reasons including how support acts Ari Olafsson, Laurell and Michael Rice made this a gig to remember

We’re here because we’ve never seen them live and band members Alexandra Rotan, Tom Hugo and Fred Buljo prove what great singers they are, how they can co-write new songs that fit their pop joik template but also how they can adapt some well-loved 80s covers into their set.

We’ll come back to the headliners later in this review but we loved the supports including Icelandic entry Ari Olafsson (pictured below) who not only sang his 2018 Contest song but also told the audience he was completing a musical theatre degree and hoped to be appearing on the West End stage and also revelled in some Ja Ja Ding Dong call-and-response chanting with the crowd.

Laurell is predominantly a songwriter but competed in Melodifestivalen this year and she endeared herself to us by revealing that both her parents were from Liverpool but also performing a 2021 Eurovision entry for Cyprus that she co-wrote El Diablo.

Laurell also co-wrote Michael Rice’s entry for the UK in 2019, Bigger Than Us, which he performs here nervously but is much stronger singing the life out of Loreen’s 2023 Contest favourite Tattoo.

Back to the headline act and KEiiNO’s joy is that they’re all brilliant singers performing invariably uptempo originals and covers and we concur with them that their version of a-Ha’s The Sun Always Shines On TV, which we heard for the 1st time here, deserves a release.

It’s such a shame that the MGP follow-up to Spirit In The Sky, 2021’s Monument, never made it to Eurovision because it was an attempt to say something about those who have devoted their lives to a cause and it succeeded in being true to the band’s sound while also conveying an important message.

In the short-term, we’re keen for the release of KEiiNO’s version of the a-Ha classic and in the longer-term we’d love to see them back on the MGP stage and soon aiming to represent Norway at Eurovision.

  • Main picture via Facebook courtesy KEiiNO Tickets
  • Have you seen any of these shows mentioned? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
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