Make a note of this name: Thomas Helmig. It may not ring any bells and you may never have heard any of his songs, but Helmig will be causing huge excitement among the Danes of the Costa del Sol this weekend. The artist will be filling the Marenostrum Fuengirola on the hill of the Sohail Castle on Saturday, and most of the audience of 5,000 (the maximum permitted under the Covid-19 restrictions) will be Danish.
He is the Danish Alejandro Sanz, a 1980s music star who is still performing and attracting a legion of fans everywhere he goes. Helmig can boast of being the pop star who has won the most awards in his home country, including the Danish Music Awards Prize of Honor, the honorary award which is granted to the greatest personalities in the industry. He writes his own songs, but also composes for films and for other Danish singers.
His concert in Fuengirola has filled local hotels and makes it difficult to find a direct flight from Copenhagen to Malaga at present. It is estimated that about 500 of the tickets have been purchased by Danish residents of the area, but the other 4,500 have been acquired elsewhere. "And that is something very special. Never have so many people travelled to see a Danish artist perform abroad," says Henrik Andersen, the promotor of the concert.
Three years with no concerts
Several factors explain this. With the pause forced by the pandemic, the concert that Thomas Helmig is giving in Fuengirola will be his first in three years. It is happening at a time of recovery, when Danish music lovers are longing to travel again and wishing to enjoy the last days of the summer in southern Europe. "And Malaga is very fashionable nowadays," says Andersen.
The singer also has a personal link with this area, which makes the concert even more unusual. He has a second home here, where he spends long periods with his family, and one of his ballads is dedicated to the province. If you search for his name on Google, the videoclip called Malaga is one of the first results, with nearly four million viewings. It will undoubtedly be one of the most popular songs at his concert on Saturday.
In order for this performance to take place, more than 5,000 antigen tests will have to be carried out (on the public and the workers) during the day. Danish travellers also have to show a valid Covid certificate when they fly.
This event has become a tradition for the Danish community. Since 2007 Henrik Andersen, who has been living in Malaga for more than 20 years, has organised an annual concert on the Costa del Sol, featuring an artist from his home counry. "And bit by bit it has grown," he says. Normally it takes place inside the Sohail Castle with an audence of about 1,500, most of whom are foreigners who live in Malaga, but the pandemic has changed things. On one hand, the desire to get back to something resembling normality has caused more excitement than in prevous years, and on the other, Andersen says, many Danish people decided to go home during the pandemic and that means that this year most of those attending the concert will be coming from Denmark.
They are travelling because they want to see Thomas Helmig perform live, but that is no the only reason. "Many will take the opportunity to stay for a week or two. In northern Europe, everyone talks about the Costa del Sol," says Andersen, who admires Marenostrum for putting on concerts to add culture to the traditional tourist attractions of sunshine and beaches.