"Long list of mandatory songs that people will be pissed off if we don't play"

Text: Sven Ove Bakke

- The three or so hours on stage are really the easiest in the whole touring life. It is a passion that is awakened every time I go on stage, says Åge Aleksandersen. On Saturday 6 July, he and the Union will play a farewell concert for the Kongsberg audience at Kirketorget.

Rocken certainly knows no age limit for pension or AFP. It has not been long since the 80-year-olds in The Rolling Stones released a new studio album. Bob Dylan turns 83 soon and is still touring. Bruce Springsteen will soon be 75, and still plays marathon concerts with The E Street Band. 

And here at home, the equally old Åge Aleksandersen will embark on a year and a half long lap of honor with his beloved Sambandet. 

Originally, the concert was set up at Gamle Norge, but here the tickets were snapped up in record time. That is why we have moved the concert with Åge Aleksandersen and Sambandet from the Gamle Norge stage to Kirketorget to give more people the chance for one last night with the gang at Kongsberg.

- You're not going to miss stage life then?

- The three or so hours on stage are really the easiest in the whole touring life. It is a passion that is awakened every time I go on stage. The feeling of going on stage and meeting the audience is the same as when I was 15 years old and playing on the second floor of the Avholdskafeen in Namsos, says Åge Aleksandersen to the Kongsberg Jazz Festival.

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A year and a half farewell 

The farewell tour for Åge and the Association begins at Bryne on 24 May this year. It finally ends in three sold-out stadium concerts at Lerkendal at home in Trondheim, in front of a total of 75.000 spectators, in September 2025. 

In other words, Kongsberg arrives quite early in the farewell round. On Saturday 6 July, the Kirketorget stage awaits during the Kongsberg Jazz Festival. We expect the extra tickets to quickly get legs to walk on.

- You describe the adrenaline kick of being on stage nicely. But why give up now?

- It is demanding to tour when you get older. All the traveling takes its toll. Tour life in Norway does not go from airport to airport, there are long bus journeys, late to bed and early to rise. It is the travel business that drains me of energy.

- So we're not talking full retirement, then?

- The fact that there will be no more tours with Sambandet does not mean that I will stop completely, no. I continue to write songs, even if it takes a long time. We will be in the studio again and record a new record in the autumn. It will be released on vinyl, CD and cassette, the whole package. Then I have the Akustisk Friminutt project with Gunnar Pedersen and people from the Trondheim soloists.

This is a picture of Åge Aleksandersen and the Association
Saturday 6 July / Time: 19:30

Åge Aleksandersen & Sambandet + support: Ida Maria

- A terrific band

But even if the number of annual travel days with the Association drops from around three figures to zero, it is not without regret that the tour bus is put in the garage for good.

- The association started in 1976. The line-up has been reasonably stable from 2003 until now. In many ways, these past twenty years have been my finest time as a touring musician. I'm lucky to have such a terrific band with me.

- Can you say a little more about what happens when you and the Samband are on stage and what gives you that feeling?

- That is the sum of everything. For me, it's about being able to go out on stage with low shoulders. We have a unique personal chemistry together, there are both good musicians and nice people, who create a good little community when we are out together. It is a good social foundation to stand on when delivering good experiences for people.

- But enough is enough?

- Next year I will be 76 years old. It is about giving up while we are still doing well, our health is good and we can perform our concerts with the dignity required.

- What do you do to stay in such good shape that you can still last a year and a half with this?

- I am a modest but frenetic long-distance walker. I like to go on hills. And I walk all year round, an average of one mile every day.

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Gotta keep people from getting pissed off

- Farewell tours are often nostalgic things. What can the audience expect from a final evening with Åge & Sambandet?

- We have a goal of bringing quite a lot of new things with us. That is, the last 25 years, from "Two steps forward" onwards. There is a long list of obligatory songs that people will be pissed if we don't play, such as "Rio de Janeiro", "Dains me mæ", "Lys og varme", "Levva liett", "Fire pils og en pizza" and "The tire boy". We have a gross list of around 50 songs that we can play, so we like to change it up a bit from night to night.

- We almost have to ask a little about your relationship with Kongsberg at the end. You played to a full house at Gamle Norge during the Kongsberg Jazz Festival in 2018, but do you remember your earliest Kongsberg concerts?

- I'm not going to lie to myself that I remember the first time we played there with Prudence. It may have been at the gymnasium, a sports hall-like place. Then I know more about the old ski jumpers from Kongsberg!

Åge even skied in his younger years, before the guitar and trønder rock took the focus.

- Birger Ruud and the Kongsberg knekken were a generation and a half before my time, but they were truly legendary people. When I started skiing, Thoralf Engan and Bjørn Wirkola were the great role models.

- And what about jazz? There hasn't been much jazz in the Åge Aleksandersen catalogue, but what is your relationship to the genre?

- I have to admit that I don't really have a great relationship with jazz. But one honorable exception: the "Belonging" album by Keith Jarrett and Jan Garbarek!

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This is a picture of Hagle

Hagle replaces Åge in Gamle Norge