BALOISE SESSION 2023, where musical eclecticism rhymes with geographical diversity

Baloise Session

By Rosine Alleva and José Oliveira – Rock At Night EU Editors 

For a long time, the BALOISE SESSION has been considered a reference in the field of European Indoor Festivals. 21 October to 9 November, ten concerts, in the traditional club atmosphere, make up the beautiful setlist of this 2023 edition.

After these two years of pandemic, everywhere we are witnessing a substantial rise of Artists’ fees. Some are truly scandalous compared to the inflationary era we are going through. But in Switzerland and particularly in Basel, the 8 million Swiss francs allocated to the Festival budget give it the notoriety required to present such a program.

CEO Beatrice Stirnimann © Photo Dominik Pluess

Although Beatrice Stirnimann, the Baloise Session CEO, told us: “It might seem to be a big budget but it’s not. The substancial rise of artists fees is a big problem for us too. Especially as we have only 1’500 tickets to sell“.This 2023 edition will be based on a beautiful European range of artists with a predominance of British names: Ellie GOULDING, Mike ROSENBERG (PASSENGER), GOGO PENGUIN, Freya RIDINGS, the British reggae standard of the 80s UB 40, the UK Queen of Soul JOSS STONE, JESSIE J recognized for her music style mixing soulful voices with contemporary R&B, pop, NOEL GALLAGHER, one of the main actors movement during which the group Oasis enjoyed great critical and commercial success. Let’s not forget to mention the magnificent return to the Baloise Session of the famous guitarist-performer DAVE STEWART, whose live performance is the first of the “Sweet Dreams” tour ( November 7), which will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Eurythmics Songbook repertoire, and this with the blessing of Annie Lennox who decided to stop touring. Dave Stewart promises great female vocals accompaniment.

NORAH JONES, already at the Baloise Session in 2016 will start her tour at the 2023 Swiss Edition before performing in the UK and Ireland.

Israeli ASAF AVIDAN will perform solo.

NOEL GALLAGHER We can speak of a historic moment when the Baloise Session welcomes the musician and songwriter of the legendary alternative rock group: Oasis. Almost all the anthems of British pop of a whole generation like “Live Forever”, “Whatever”, “Wonderwall” or even “Don’t look back in Anger” were born from the pen – or rather from the guitar – of  Noel Gallagher.

UB40 In the history of pop music, reggae has built its own kingdom and it knows no boundaries: UB40 and Gentleman are the representatives of this groovy reign. Their name comes from the British unemployment benefit application form which was then commonly called UB40 (Unemployment Benefits, Form 40), a form that many young British people had with them in the 1980s. Thanks to reggae, and with its relaxed rhythms and its rebellious spirit, the group, which grew up in the disenchanted streets of Birmingham, knew how to rise to the top.  GENTLEMAN is from Cologne.  At 18, he went to Jamaica for the first time;  Since then, he has devoted himself body and soul to reggae.  Today, Gentleman is a star, but he keeps his feet on the ground: his musical anchor is – and remains – roots reggae in the style of the Wailers in their early days.

Many types of modern musical culture will meet at this Baloise Session edition, with a focus on British artists. In our latest Rock At Night interviews with American artists, it seemed obvious that the increasing travel costs to cross the Atlantic, added to the enormous actual artists fees, doesn’t make it easy for many of them. Could this result from this choice?

But the presence on November 2 of the American NORAH JONES will somewhat contradict this observation…

When we asked Beatrice Stirnimann what were the main issues she encountered to obtain this BS great set list, she explained that it is getting more and more difficult to have a great line-up in fall. There are more and more touring artists in Summer, but less touring in fall. Because in summer there are hundreds of big festivals with huge budgets, as they sell a huge amount of tickets (20 ‘000 to 50’ 000 tickets). Therefore they pay higher fees to all artists because they need to fill their line-ups, in a more then saturated market. So everybody goes on tour in summer because they expect they can earn more money.

STEFF LA CHEFF, the folk-brass orchestra TROUBAS KATER and the singer from Biel DANA who really impressed us during her performance at the BS media presentation at the Atlantis in Basel. Beatrice Stirnimann says of Dana that she’s outstanding and very much hopes that she will expand her career outside of Switzerland.

The place of honor will be given to the two concerts of the pioneers of German Rap DIE FANTASTISCHEN VIER, often nicknamed FANTA 4. Pioneers of the German-speaking variant of this art of rhyme and speech.  Their texts – laid out on a rhythmic basis – are popular, accessible, and impactful. The Baloise Session Director chose these artists as it’s a Swiss Festival and they always want Swiss musicians in the line-up, as there is a lot of fantastic Swiss music around. Regarding Hip-Hop, she explained that 2023 is the year which marks the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. “Why not party this with German Hip-Hop? The band “Die Fantastischen Vier” are German music history since almost 40 years. So I’m glad they accepted our offer. The 2 shows of this band will be a big party at Baloise Session this year!”

As every year we’re looking forward to discovering this new magnificent program in the famous Swiss indoor festival.

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Jose Oliveira

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