Roskilde 2023: King of Danish Pop receives long overdue coronation on Orange Stage 

REVIEW ★★★★★★ A performance for the ages by Denmark’s Tobias Rahim

Last year’s Roskilde Festival was, in many ways, a question of there simply being a festival after the corona years – and not much else. 

One of the ways in which this was evident was the booking of Tobias Rahim, the dominant force in Danish music du jour, for a concert on the Arena Stage. Unsurprisingly, the concert ended up being far too congested – to the point it was uncomfortable for the hordes of young and old festival-goers thronged in for a slice of Rahim. 

Fast-forward a year to what has so far been a pretty seamless festival, and there were no amateur errors this time round. Rahim got his long awaited debut on the Orange Stage in the early evening hours of Sunday, playing to a packed, exuberant crowd that hung onto his every word. 

Audacious start
Starting right on time, Rahim burst onto the scene with a delivery of ‘Jesus’, a track that is essentially a tirade against the many negative stereotypes leveled at Middle Eastern Men (for context, Rahim grew up in Aarhus, the son of a Danish mother and a Kurdish father.)

This was followed by a seismic rendition of ‘Mucki Bar’, a seminal track that’s been heard on every street corner for several years now. While one could indeed make the point that it was way too early for a tune of this stature to drop, it has become standard practice for Rahim to unleash it at the start of all his shows. 

Clad in a loose fitting gold-coloured outfit and shades, the ‘King of Danish Pop’ had turned up for his befitting coronation on the scene of scenes – and he made no attempt to hide his feelings about finally getting his Orange Stage debut, terming it a dream come true as he thanked the crowd briefly into the show. 

A procession of greats
With the foundations laid, Rahim breezed through one hit after another (he does have quite a few after all), touching on the broad themes his works cover (from it being okay to cry as a man ‘Når Mænd de græder’, to ‘Bums for Eliten’, which tears into elitism and inequality with  a vengeance.

Ultimately, the peak of the show came with Rahim making his feelings very clear about his Kurdish heritage before unleashing a steamy traditional Kurdish folk dance instrumental frenzy that sent the crowd into freefall.

And just when you thought that things could not get more varied, on came a performance of Daddy Yankee’s seminal 2010 banger ‘Gasolina’ in perfect Spanish.

Veritable coming of age
Come the end of the show and out came the familiar anthems again: ‘Stor Mand’, ‘Vi 1’ and ‘Flyvende Faduma’.

Rahim left a sea of young,  old and everything in between to an ocean of applause. Seldom has the Orange Stage stood as united as it did yesterday – with its politically charged, outspoken King of Pop at the helm after a performance that showcased the mind-boggling breadth and depth of his musicality.

This was an evening that transcended genres, race, age and persuasion – a veritable coming of age of one of the country’s most dominant forces.