Contrary to how I usually handle the reviews for concerts and festivals I’m giving this to you shortly after it has happened instead of after a huge delay (and yes, I do still owe you stuff from last year…).
Live The Last Dance…
Anyway, this years concerts started off with one of the bands that turned me into a Metalhead in the first place: Schandmaul. When Icewolf had sent me “Der Letzte Tanz” (The Last Dance) and “Herren der Winde” (Lords of the Winds) back in 2004, I believe, I started on a journey that has yet to end.
Their fascinating, funny and wonderful songs have stuck with me throughout the years; particularly “Leb” (Live) that even made me reconsider the way I was going about my life and others that I just enjoy listening to. Many of their songs tell stories of finding/losing love, taking revenge or simply enjoying life, but also about legends (e.g. songs about Siegfried) and myths. All this is carried by different flutes or bagpipes, a violin or whatever other (medieval) instrument they choose to play the rhythm.
Even though this band is one of the first metal bands I ever listened to, it was only the second time I was able to see them on stage. The first time was only a short concert at the Wacken Open Air while standing in the rain and mud of the festival grounds (Read more: Wacken 2012).
A filled Chamber
Fortunately the concert was indoors in the Columbiahalle (or C-Halle – Columbiahall in English) in Berlin, so the only rain we – Mücke and I, as we gave him the ticket for his birthday – had to suffer through was on our way there. As we arrived in Berlin the rain had ceased and we had ample time for me to change into proper boots after driving and for us to file into the crowd waiting for the hall to open while having conversations about superheroes and joking with other people.
Finally inside we had a look at the merchandise stand before checking in our outdoor clothes (jacket and coat), as it was way to warm to keep them. After getting refreshments we stood at the side to see if we could see and hear well from there.
The hall, however, is shaped quite oddly:
There is a rectangular area in front of the stage with the speakers turning to the crowd.
There is also a rank like balcony, you’re not allowed to enter, surrounding that area. This not just reduces the room for the volume (as the speaker barely reach below the balcony), but also gives you pillars standing in your way while watching.
When the support act Die Kammer (The Chamber, not to be confused with Chamber) started their show we soon noticed that the acoustic where we stood wasn’t the best and we made our way into the area unaffected by the balcony. Though while the sound was better there, we now were amongst several strange people and had little to no space to move at all.
Die Kammer had just started playing when Mücke noticed the familiarity of their songs and one of their musicians. As an ASP fan a recognized their former member and decided to see them after the concert at their merchandise stand.
The music itself wasn’t too bad, though it was more country/folk than medieval/folk. It was nice to listen to and to see their different instruments interact (they had a tuba!) with the two singers. When the band members were introduced Mücke had already suspected the drummer to be another (as we now know) former ASP-member and was proven right when they said the name. We also learned that their violinist is the composer of the theme music of Löwenzahn (Dandelion), one of the most well known educational children shows here in Germany.
A sick bard and borrowed staff
After an awfully long intermission Schandmaul then finally entered the stage with a song I wouldn’t have suspected to become their opener (“In deinem Namen” – On your behalf, about the crusades if I’m not mistaken).
Only afterwards did we learn that the break was due to the singer not being healthy enough to sing (he had completely lost his voice during the afternoon) and the medicine he was given not kicking in fast enough. It is impressive what he managed to do even with his sick-voice and also a bit reckless.
His voice is the one thing that earns his money and he forces himself onto the stage. Of course he does it for the fans who are eagerly waiting for the concert, who have driven several kilometres (about 150 in our case) and just want to see the band perform. Still, there are several reasons why you would forgive a singer/a band for cancelling a show and being sick is one of them.
Aside from his illness a strange thing occurred during and after the first song. Usually the band has two women at their side, a flutist and a violinist. This evening, however, the violinist was a man, whom I soon recognized as one of the members of Fiddler’s Green, which I had seen live at Wacken 2010.
When the intro song was over Thomas (the singer) addressed the audience and pointed in the direction of the borrowed musician:
As some of you may have noticed: This is not Anna*.
*(their actual violinist)
This earned laughter from the crowd and he then proceeded to explain that she had given birth to a child earlier this year and was still at home with it (Just as I remotely remembered and told Mücke when I noticed the green fiddler) and he was filling in for her.
The concert then proceeded with many great songs, some of which were picked out of an old chest. According to Thomas they had put a lot of old stuff into it when one of their mother’s had visited their studio and ordered them to clean up.
While he rummaged through the chest he – amongst other things – took out a folding chair that he tried to open with one hand. After a bit of struggle he actually managed to do it and sat down to properly read the paper he had just fished out of the chest. It was quite strange and pretty cool to hear “Der Kurier” (The courier) being read instead of sung – and interesting to see that I kind of seemed to realize what song it was only from the lyrics while the people around us wondered what he was doing.
We could enjoy a good mixture of their older and newer songs, including “Leb” and “Das Tuch” (The Scarf – see this travelogue for more information on this one) until it got to crammed to even remotely clap your hands, let alone move at all. Signalling Mücke we then made our way towards the end of the hall (underneath the balcony) while one of my favourites from the newest album played (“Kaspar“, about the tale of the Brandner Kaspar, a guy that strikes a deal with the drunken Death to continue living some more years).
Back there the acoustic wasn’t as bad as it had been at the side and it was definitely more pleasant to be out of the heat and bodies pressing against yours from every side imaginable…
Even the atmosphere was better as I had thought, as here the people actually were able to dance along with the music and enjoy it more profoundly.
Anyway, as we had stood through nearly the whole concert only a few songs remained, so we decided to already get the stuff we checked in earlier.
We nevertheless still managed to hear my other new favourite “Der Teufel” (The Devil), where one of the assistants took up the parts originally sung by the singers of Russkaja and Fiddler’s Green, and “Walpurgisnacht” (Walpurgis Night). Though I had hoped that they would play another faster song in the encore, but they kept it rather quiet with “Euch zum Geleit” (For your company – a funeral song) and another song I can’t remember.
When they had said their good bye and said to return for autographs in a moment Mücke and I went outside to take a breather, have a smoke – in his case – and just sit down in the cool April air for a moment.
As you can see I managed to get four of six autographs from the musicians (Thomas and Anna being the exceptions, due to their absence). Mücke instead got the autographs from the former ASP members.
I also worked up my courage to ask one of them – drummer Stefan – if it would be all right with them if I tried writing down the stories they tell with their songs.
As I mentioned in the beginning do their songs tell different tales, which fascinates me and I would really like to try writing down the parts they left out and as I now have a “go ahead, try it” from one of the band members, I feel a bit more encouraged to do so. 🙂
Regardless of the far too little space within the hall and the nearly unnoticeable sickness of the singer it was a really nice concert that I wouldn’t mind repeating one day – with less weird people surrounding me though.
And who knows, maybe I actually will try writing down some of the song-tales. 🙂
P.S. For some official photos and statements you can read/watch the tour diary here: Schandmaul-Tourtagebuch (German)