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Ane Brun and Tobias Froberg
October 30th
Hotel Café, Los Angeles, CA

It was more café, less hotel on a brisk October night. The drink of choice after-dark at the Hotel Café in Los Angeles appeared to be alcoholic, instead of the usual café ambiance of a cup of coffee. Beers started lining the walls and people were ready for some music.

Tobias Froberg, the Swedish sensation kicked off the night which I could imagine sounded like a throw-back acoustic introduction into the wonderful world of mellow rock. I say imagine because traffic (always a bad excuse) and an unanticipated accident prevented a punctual arrival. Living 45 minutes away from Los Angeles was headache enough but alas, I was able to catch Ane Brun- raw, exposed and heavily lighted in front of a red curtain. Dressed in festive high grey-striped socks and a dark dress a la “Little House the Prairie,” the Norwegian songbird silenced the anxious crowd with her haunting voice and mere presence on the barely there stage.

In a very VH1 Storytellers moment, Ane, in her sweet European voice, spoke about the inspiration to her songs. For instance, “Puzzle” was penned for a friend who was dumped by a pop star. The crowd laughed in amusement and listened intently to the heartbreaking tale.

As she changed it up with three different guitars throughout the show, Ane interacted with the crowd in many ways. For example, the talented musician stepped down from the stage and proudly strummed for the front row. Even the sound guy got some love as Ane hollered at him for the right key as if anything else could help this naturally-gift singer.

One highlight of the night was a fun game entitled, “music jeopardy,” courtesy of Ms. Brun. She challenged the audience to guess her biggest American songwriter inspiration. Ane started to play this nameless song which left most of the audience clueless, until a brave soul shouted “Gideon Welsh.” A collected sigh of relief filled the room and Ane forgave everyone with a pleasant serenade in her unique performance stance: eyes closed and her body possessed to the melodic sound of the guitar as she swayed back and forth.

In this intimate show, Ane’s Southern folk rock influence radiated from the speakers and conjured up a particular image in my mind. Take for example, “The Treehouse Song.” The piece transformed the dimly lit, Los Angeles bar decorated with hanging lanterns into a bonfire sing-along somewhere in the woods of the Deep South. Her grassroots sound in general has a country twang and even a hint of Appalachian quality to it.

However, the Stockholm resident is no one-trick pony. Ane played a fun piano tune- almost Disney-like – at one point during the night. As an added bonus, her touring buddy, Tobias Froberg joined her on-stage for another song. His harmonious vocals made the night even more special, but the finale was the icing on the cake.

As everyone gathered either sitting down at the table or relaxing cross-legged on the floor, Ane played a touching rendition of the Phil Collins’ classic, “True Colors.” A roaring applause followed as humble Ane Brun smiled and acknowledged the crowd.

If music is a form of escapism, then I’ll definitely make the valiant effort to escape and see the dynamic duo of Brun and Froberg again.

–Gail Navarro