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When the Swedish acoustic pop artist Melissa Horn, 28, grabs the microphone at the sold out Savoy Theatre on Friday evening, the audience becomes silent. Too captivated to breathe.
Horn begins with “Jag har gjort det igen (I Have Done It Again),” a melodic and soulful tune about missing a friend, one who deeply understands her; the song also touches subjects of escape and lost love, diving straight to the themes of her latest album Jag Går Nu (2015) (I Will Leave Now).
The experience of hearing Horn’s voice live for the first time is soothing like fine Malbec and intoxicating like rare whisky – her voice beautiful and charismatic, filling the room with vibrations of sorrow.
The concert in Helsinki was part of Horn’s tour of 50 performances during the spring 2016. The tour features a cross-section of songs from Horn’s career of five albums.
With “Lät du henne komma närmare (Did You Let Her Come Closer)”, Horn pondered on love . . . when someone loves another instead of you . . . was she more beautiful? “How can one love another who has loved someone else before?” she asked and was greeted with loud applauds.
“Jag kan inte skilja på (I Can’t Distinguish)” took the listener on a roller coaster ride of emotions, where she can’t decide whether to continue or end her relationship. “You should understand that you don’t act like this with me,” she stressed with her voice like nectar.
Between songs Horn shared anecdotes of her life. The boat trip from Sweden to Finland, where she and her band seemingly were the only sober ones and the hallways were filled with public affections of love . . . the excitement of performing to her home crowd in Stockholm . . . her preference of writing songs at night and calling her mother (Maritza Horn, a popular jazz-pop artist in Sweden in the ’70s), a night-owl as well, and asking, whether the lyrics make sense or not?
While Horn’s set included a rock solid selection of soulful songs, one of the highlights of her performance was a duet with Lars Winnerbäck, “Som jag hade dig förut (Like I Had You Before),” where Horn and guitarist Winnerbäck sang about wanting one’s lover back. Just. Like. Before.
Other highlights included “I mörkret långt ifrån varann (In The Dark Far Away From Each Other),” a song about understanding one on a deeper level.
Horn also performed a lovely tune with Moa Lignell, 21, who was her warm-up act: “Där går mitt liv (There Goes My Life),” a song written by Lignell and she joined the bluesy melody with a harmonica earning echoing cheers.
Towards the end of the set Horn played “Säg att du behöver mig (Say That You Need Me),” this one aimed at her partner but now redirected to the audience, reminding that the life of a musician can be lonely.
Horn reached the climax of her performance with “Om du vill vara med mig (If You Want To Be With Me),” an absolute masterpiece, rising like a tide before storm. “If you want to be with me. You have to understand that this is my life and job. This is my time and these are my choices,” she sang and the audience exploded in screams and claps.
Horn’s performance was like experiencing the seasons change on high-speed, her voice belonging among the all-time greats such as Billie Holiday and among her contemporaries from Joss Stone to Duffy. When I finally rose from my seat after an intensive two hours, I had gone through the catharsis of life, the metamorphosis from larva to man.
I had no doubts of Horn’s career choice.
On that Friday night, her choices made us cry and feel joy.
She brought us alive.
How was the