Europe ‘22: Watch Billy Strings Lead Single Mic ‘Freedom’ At Tour Opener In Oslo

The guitarist's first run through mainland Europe began at Rockefeller Music Hall on Tuesday.

By Scott Bernstein Nov 30, 2022 7:11 am PST

Billy Strings launched his first tour of Europe last night with a concert at Rockefeller Music Hall in Oslo, Norway. Strings took advantage of the 1,350-capacity venue and attentive crowd by gathering his band around a single mic to perform intimate versions of four songs within the second set.

While the Grammy-winning guitarist and his ensemble previously made their London debut this past March, the current 10-show excursion marks Strings’ first run through mainland Europe. Billy will return to England next month for shows in London and Manchester before ending the tour with performances in Dublin and Glasgow.

Billy Strings, fiddler Alex Hargreaves, bassist Royal Masat, mandolinist Jarrod Walker and banjoist Billy Failing treated Norwegian fans to a 32-song concert. The five-piece went heavy on cuts from their latest studio album, 2021’s Renewal, with nine of the LP’s 16 cuts making the setlist in Oslo including opener “Red Daisy.” Last night’s first set also featured “Heartbeat Of America,” “In The Morning Light,” and “Hellbender” off Renewal.

“Red Daisy” and “Heartbeat Of America” were split by a seamless run of “Likes Of Me,” “Pyramid Country” and “Must Be Seven.” The middle of the opening stanza was devoted to covers as the traditional “The Old Mountaineer” was followed by Larry Sparks’ “John Deere Tractor” and The Stanley Brothers’ “Nobody’s Love Is Like Mine.” Last night’s “John Deere Tractor” was dedicated by Billy to his parents back home. Walker helmed “Nobody’s Love Is Like Mine,” which hadn’t been played in 43 shows. The beloved “Dust In A Baggie” came next along with “Away From The Mire” off Strings’ Grammy-winning Home LP to end the set.

Billy Strings and his bandmates worked Renewal’s “The Fire On My Tongue” into the Johnny Horton cover “Ole Slew-Foot” to get Tuesday’s second set underway. After a sequence of career-spanning originals and a few choice covers, Strings took centerstage with Masat, Failing, Hargreaves and Walker around a single mic. Up first was a stunning take on “Freedom,” a song Billy wrote with Lindsay Lou.

See the emotion-laden Oslo “Freedom” via fan-shot video below:


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Tord Jacobsson
Billy Strings (See 577 videos)

Next came the Billy Strings debut of the traditional spiritual “Standing In The Need Of Prayer.” The song was first recorded in 1923 by Elkins-Payne Jubilee Singers as per BillyBase. From there the quintet closed out the single mic section with a rare take on Bobby Davidson’s “If Your Hair Is Too Long, There’s Sin In Your Heart” and “Rank Stranger,” a song first recorded by The Stanley Brothers that Billy credits with saving his life and resparking his passion for bluegrass.

The concert rolled on as the musicians returned to their usual places for a pair of train songs — “Slow Train” and “The Train That Carried My Girl From Town” — with Renewal’s “This Old World” played in between. A romp through instrumental “Black Mountain Rag” emerged out of “The Train That Carried My Girl From Town.” Strings and his bandmates looked back to Renewal for jam vehicle “Hide & Seek” to finish the frame. A “John Hardy” encore sealed the show.

Billy Strings brings his Europe ’22 tour to Copenhagen tonight. Livestreams of upcoming shows in Amsterdam, London and Dublin are available via nugs.net.

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Setlist (via BillyBase.net)

Set One: Red Daisy, Likes Of Me > Pyramid Country > Must Be Seven, Heartbeat Of America, In The Morning Light, Hellbender, Everything’s The Same, The Old Mountaineer, John Deere Tractor [1], Nobody’s Love Is Like Mine [2], Dust In A Baggie, Away From The Mire

Set Two: The Fire On My Tongue > Ole Slewfoot, Wargasm, Love & Regret, End Of The Rainbow, Taking Water, Know It All, On The Line > Train 45, Freedom [3], Standing In The Need Of Prayer [3, 4], If Your Hair Is Too Long, There’s Sin In Your Heart [3], Rank Stranger [3], Slow Train, This Old World, The Train That Carried My Girl From Town > Black Mountain Rag, Hide & Seek

Encore: John Hardy

  • [1] – Dedicated to Billy’s Mom and Dad overseas.
  • [2] – Jarrod Walker lead vocals
  • [3]- Single mic
  • [4] – First Time Played (Traditional)
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