Fra Lippo Lippi vocalist promises ‘hit parade’ in two-night concert
Per Sorensen of the Norwegian group Fra Lippo Lippi is coming back to the country for a two-night concert next month and has promised a “hit parade” on both nights. At a virtual media roundtable held recently, the 61-year-old lead vocalist and keyboardist talked about why he loves returning to the Philippines, plans to release new music, and who among his contemporaries he looks up to.
“I love when I’m performing and being able to communicate with the audience,” Sorensen said. He pointed out that there are two types of performers: the first goes onstage, puts on a show and then exits, while the second is able to actually connect with the audience.
Since his first performance in the Philippines in 1988 as part of Fra Lippo Lippi with bassist and founding comember Rune Kristoffer, he said it’s always been a blast. The Manila leg of the group’s 1988 concert tour was a very memorable one for Sorensen, who remembered that it was staged at the Folk Arts Theater and was packed with 11,000 adoring fans. “We were a club band. We had just come from Tokyo, but when we performed in Manila, everyone sang along to our songs,” he recalled. That experience was repeated as their shows sold out six times over two weekends.
He has since returned to the country several times, even after Kristoffer left in 2002. That same year, Sorensen and his band released “Later,” a chart-topping smash in Asia and Europe. He collaborated with Filipino R&B singer Kyla on “Wish We Were Two,” which garnered heavy airplay on various top 40 stations in Manila and major cities across the Philippines.
Fra Lippo Lippi made a name for itself in the ’80s with songs like “Everytime I See You,” “Beauty and Madness,” “Stitches and Burns,” “Light and Shade,” “The Distance Between Us” and “Angel,” among others.
Filipinos’ singing prowess
Sorensen said he will be performing these fan favorites and is expecting the audience to sing along with him. He praised Filipinos for their singing prowess—“not all, of course”—and was looking forward to performing before a live audience once again. “There are so many gifted, talented Filipino singers, in general. They always sing their hearts out and I really like that. They help me when I f**k up the lyrics. They’re brilliant singers.” For the shows next month, he will be joined onstage by two musicians: a bassist and drummer.
“At the start of the pandemic, I couldn’t write anything, but I was eventually able to start again. I have many, many songs on my phone. My son helped me out [when it came to the technical stuff].”
Despite this, Sorensen said he had no plans to release new music in the near future. What he plans to do, however, is come out with a Christmas song that he said he might perform for his Pinoy fans. “I’ve never done that [write a Christmas song]. I have the chords and melody ready. It might be a good idea to perform it for the Filipino audience.”
Sorensen said he doesn’t care for the new crop of singers, adding that pop music isn’t his cup of tea. One artist he looks up to is Joni Mitchell whose 2000 concept album, “Both Sides Now,” with the London Symphony Orchestra he counts as one of his favorites. “She started out [as a] a soprano and is now a baritone,” he said.
Asked what advice he would give to aspiring young singers, Sorensen prefaced his reply with “I’m a grumpy old bastard” before going on to say: “I’m 61 years old, but I know from my sons who are musicians [the need to] work hard, meaning don’t fall for the temptation to play in bars and hotels.”
He explained that when a singer is 17 or 18, he has a tendency to mimic other singers, but as he grows up, he needs to find his own voice. “If you play in bars and hotels and people expect you to emulate other singers, it will ruin your own self-reliance and subdue your own expression. Work on your own voice and your own expression—that’s it.”
Sorensen will perform at The Theatre at Solaire on June 16 and the Santa Rosa Sports Complex on June 17. Steve Hovington of B-Movie will be performing with him both nights. The event is presented by New DMC Entertainment Production Management, Maui & Sons and The Rail.
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