Magnus felt like his heart was hammering in his chest as he paced the length of the marquee which served as the backstage area. With the booming music, not to mention the screams of the hysterical crowd, Magnus could barely hear himself think. Why had he agreed to do this? Again?
He had to admit the first time had been fun. Of course he had been nervous; he had played the alto horn in front of 7000 people! But at the time he was under the impression it would simply be a one-off thing, a novelty to kick off the Expensive Jacket Tour. As it turned out, the crowd went hysterical for the intermezzo, though Magnus was sure this was little to do with his musical abilities and more to do with the fact Bård was on stage beside him.
Therefore, he was surprised when a few days after Oslo Vegard had casually mentioned arrangements for Bergen. Magnus assumed the homecoming gig would be a scaled-down, intimate affair and that the ‘Careless Whisper’ number would be cut from the show. Yet the brothers had been adamant that Magnus take part in the show, and any other subsequent shows whenever he happened to be available. After a little cajoling and reassurance Magnus agreed.
Now he was regretting his decision. In Oslo the crowd hadn’t known what they were expecting, and the element of surprise worked in Magnus's favour as he made his stage debut. But now he felt the full weight of expectation on his broad shoulders; what if fans were disappointed by his efforts? What if the crowd didn't get the joke and thought he was making mistakes? What if they didn't like him?
Magnus was never usually burdened with these insecurities; he had built his career around looking and acting awkward. He wore his persona like a comfort blanket, and he knew exactly what to do and say to raise a smile when in front of the rolling camera. However, a live concert audience was a different matter entirely. Bård, Vegard and Calle were all stage veterans who thrived off the energy of a crowd. In contrast, Magnus felt almost paralysed without the safety net which a pre-recorded setting afforded.
He was disturbed in his deep thoughts by the sound of footsteps pounding down the metal steps of the stage. Vegard jogged towards him, mopping his brow with a face cloth. "You're up, Magnus" he grinned, obviously still on a high from his performance of ‘The Cabin’. The tumult in the taller man's insides must have played out in his features, as Vegard looked at him with mild concern. However, ever the professional, Vegard composed his features into a wide grin. "You'll kill it, Magnus. Off you go".
Vegard started pulling on his own white suit, and Magnus knew that time had run out. The next thing he heard was Bård's honeyed voice, addressing the crowd in English.
"I want to introduce to the stage, a very, very dear friend of mine"
Magnus ascended to the stage, worried his legs would give away. For a May evening it felt unseasonably warm, and he was thankful he was shirtless under the white jacket.
Bård continued: "But he's so much more than a friend. He's a human being…"
Magnus felt like he was on autopilot as he walked into view of the large crowd. In the Spektrum it had been hard to make out the crowd in the dark, but here it was still light outside, and as such Magnus could make out the sea of faces as he trudged past Kato the guitarist.
"…and a great musician".
The blood pounded in his ears and he felt like he was underwater. He didn't even register Bård shouting his name as he walked into view, clutching his alto horn tightly for fear it would slip out of his sweaty palms. He had made it to the stage and now there was only one thing left to do. He put the horn to his mouth, pursed his lips together, and blew.
The anticipation, the painstaking practice, the hours of preparation boiled down to this moment. Magnus concentrated hard on playing the right notes, trying to block out the thousands of pairs of eyes trained on him and the younger Ylvisåker brother. His nerves were assuaged slightly when he heard renewed cheering, indicating that Vegard and Calle and joined them on stage and thus shifted the focus off him slightly. Vegard inched closer to Magnus, and appeared to Magnus almost serene in the glow of the stage lights. Magnus wished he could be as at ease as Vegard.
All too quickly the singing was over, and Vegard and Calle exited the stage. Magnus knew his ordeal was almost over, but still the nerves weighed him down heavy as he played the dying notes of the song. He didn’t even realise Bård had left the stage until the soothing saxophone sounded no more. He was suddenly gripped with panic, wondering how long he had been standing centre stage - solo. However, his thoughts were soon drowned out with a deafening cheer and clapping. Magnus stared in wonder at thousands of smiling visages. From the left of the stage he heard a chant that started as a whisper, and he was unable to believe his ears. The whispered chant swelled and gathered momentum as it spread across the crowd like a Mexican wave. It was unmistakable. Undisputable. Joy sang in the young man’s heart as he listened to the rallying call… “Magnus… MagNUS… MAGNUS!”
Magnus bounced off stage feeling lighter than air, the recitation of his name still ringing in his ears. His eye was caught by a grinning Bård, who had been scrambling into his Kyrgyz warrior costume. Bård banged down the metal stairs, pausing before the bottom so that he was eye to eye with the taller man. "You were amazing, wasn’t that incredible? They loved you!" Magnus smiled shyly, as Bård effused, flailing his hands in an exaggerated manner. Suddenly Bård on some kind of euphoric high, grabbed the taller man’s lapels and pulled his face to meet his own. He planted a kiss square on Magnus’s lips.
Both men pulled back from each other reflexively, evidently alarmed at Bård’s uncharacteristic display of affection. Magnus noticed a blush spread across Bård’s face, as he put a fist to his mouth and cleared his throat. "Ahem. Well I should get back out there. Who knows what Vegard will do if I’m not there to rein him in?” Magnus chuckled slightly, feeling his nerves dissipating. Bård completed his costume change and ran back onto stage. Magnus grabbed a beer from a nearby cooler and surveyed his surroundings. He smiled contently, because that’s when he knew.
Magnus Devold had arrived.