In the end, this was a concert worth pushing through the crowded streets and the abnormal heat of that afternoon in Bergen. We had a unique opportunity to see a young hard rock band that has achieved some level of success in these particularly challenging times for rock and roll music. Marc LaBelle and the gang brought not only irresistible Californian charm to our city but also a top-notch hard rock performance, a high level of professionalism, and that widely known and famous Sunset Strip vibe.
The last day of the Bergenfest festival, June 17th to be precise, brought another rock and roll band that was worth pushing trough the crowd in the city center in the scorching heat of Bergen, the once capital of Norway. As I made my way through the sea of people towards the fortress, I felt like I was walking along the Venice Beach promenade, hoping to somehow reach the Santa Monica Pier. Torget and Bryggen truly looked like a “city at the end of the western civilization” on that Saturday around 3 p.m., as a line from a famous song goes. The guys from the band Dirty Honey, who come from the aforementioned City of Angels, definitely contributed to that California vibe, as they are currently on their California Dreamin’ tour across Europe.
It was another great rock “catch” by the Bergenfest organization, which once again enticed fans of good hard rock to visit this festival. The only thing that could be criticized is that Dirty Honey performed on the last day. They would have fit in better if they had performed on Thursday alongside The Hellacopters and Iggy Pop. However, that was probably not possible because they had a gig in Sweden on that very same June 15th.
The performance of the band Dirty Honey, like most others at this festival, started exactly at 3:00 p.m., as scheduled, on the Bastionen stage. It was the twin sister stage to the aforementioned Plenen, where we watched the famous The Hellacopters. The intense heat and direct sunlight hitting the stage made the beginning somewhat restrained and cautious, both from the band and the audience. However, when Marc Labelle, John Notto, Justin Smolian, and Jaydon Bean finished their opening song “Can’t Find The Breaks” and transitioned into one of their early big hits, “California Dreamin'”, both the audience and the band seemed to breathe a sigh of relief and realized that the next 45 minutes of the performance would be filled with nothing but the positive hard rock vibes filled with crunchy guitars, raspy high pitched vocals and hard as a rock rhythms.
As the songs from the setlist progressed, the performance became even more fiery, if that was even possible in this heat. John Notto, with his riffs, solos and sharp guitar sound, particularly captivated the Bergen audience, while frontman Marc LaBelle, with his voice and stage presence, resembled a modern combination of Axl Rose and Steven Tyler. Marc climbed the monitors several times, interacted with the audience in the most provocative and “bigger than life” manner, directed unique positive vibes, and at one point, he even went down into the crowd during the “Another Last Time” song. All of this contributed to a completely relaxed atmosphere and a positive conclusion.
On this scorching afternoon, Dirty Honey introduced us to several new songs that will be featured on their sophomore album, which will share the same name as the song they opened the concert with (expect the review here on Junkyard). In addition to that, they presented “Won’t Take Me Alive,” which will be released on July 7th, as well as “Dirty Mind” and “Don’t Put Out The Fire.” All in all, we had the opportunity to hear new songs before many fans worldwide, which is no small feat at all.
Between the new tracks, Dirty Honey performed their well-known songs from their debut album released in 2021, such as “Heartbreaker,” “Another Last Time,” “The Wire,” and “Tied Up.” They saved the complete hits for the end, performing “When I’m Gone” (which reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs) and concluded the highly successful set with the blazing “Rolling 7s.”
Although the fierce hard rock performance lasted only 45 minutes, it was enough for the local audience to witness one of the most promising young hard rock bands on the planet at the moment. The band also proved and demonstrated why they quickly earned their place on stages alongside legends like Guns N’ Roses, Kiss, The Who, The Black Crows and Rival Sons, just to name a few. From my perspective and the reactions of the people around me, they more than succeeded! It’s now clear to me why Slash himself highly recommended them as a band worth paying attention to back in 2018
In the end, this was a concert worth pushing through the crowded streets and the abnormal heat of that afternoon in Bergen. We had a unique opportunity to see a young hard rock band that has achieved some level of success in these particularly challenging times for rock and roll music. Marc LaBelle and the gang brought not only irresistible Californian charm to our city but also a top-notch hard rock performance, a high level of professionalism, and that widely known and famous Sunset Strip vibe. Even though packaged in the form of the New Wave of Classic Rock, they possess that extra spark that sets them apart from many of their peers in the genre. When we see them next in our city, it definitely won’t be at 3 p.m. under the scorching sun (although I have nothing against such weather), but rather at venues like the Forum or USF Verftet, and perhaps one day even at Koengen itself.
- Can’t Find the Breaks
- California Dreamin’
- Dirty Mind
- The Wire
- Tied Up
- Don’t Put Out the Fire
- Another Last Time
- Won’t Take Me Alive
- When I’m Gone
- Rolling 7s
Text: Janko Petrovic
Photos: Fan Made/Junkyard