The Brandos live in Metzingen

It was my 20th Brandos concert, yet the first in almost ten years. The band was on a bit of a hiatus. Now they have a new album (“Los Brandos”) just in time for the tour and speaking of tour, the current line-up is 3/4 of the 1997 summer tour line-up. I approached the concert on 7th June with few expectations. The first positive surprise was the venue (“Hirsch”), a rock pub with more than decent food, a charming staff, and an attentive audience.

Just to see the band on stage again was refreshing, no, rejuvenating! Those melodies and lyrics all came back (well, they never really left) and I found myself smiling while grooving along. Naturally, we all have aged. This wasn’t the sweaty no-compromises act that made me a fan back in 1995. Surprisingly, the show was rather hard rocking with only a couple of acoustic ballads in between. Songs like “The Solution” and “The Keeper” showed the band’s melodic side. Most of the newer songs rocked more heavily. The lead vocals were spot on, the rhythm section more controlled than it used to be.

The old material drew a lot of applause. The songs off the new album were received well, but hardly anyone had heard them before. It didn’t help that half of them were in Spanish and lacked the distinctive choruses that dominated earlier Brandos albums. Also, the newer arrangements take more time to build. The drums usually set in slowly, the rhythm guitar often remains tame until the refrain. I’m afraid that the hook lines didn’t stuck with me the first time around, very unlike my first Brandos live experience during which I heard and simultaneously inhaled killer tracks like “The Siege”, “Hard Times, Come Again No More” and “Not a Trace”.

One of the highlights was the acoustic rendition of “Love of My Life”, which had the audience singing along all the way to the back. The following song, “What Kind of a World”, was probably the most convincing new track. Performed solo by Dave Kincaid, it sounded more like Phil Ochs than CCR. I guess no one would have minded if he had added a couple of old classics right there and then (“The Other Side” from “The Light of Day – the Single” comes to my mind, or basically any other melodic Brandos song).

Was there anything to complain? Well, not really. I enjoyed the concert and I was (and am) happy to see the band back in the limelight. This being said, I could have done without the (in my ears) boring “Let It Go”. Finally, the live energy, the harmony vocals, and (yes, I’m nitpicking here) the fingered bass playing by Ernie Mendillo was missing. Frank Giordano did a fabulous job on backing vocals, make no mistake here. It’s just, well, after eleven shows I’ve seen with Dave, Frank AND Ernie on vocal duty, I’m probably spoiled. Speaking of Frank: In my opinion, he would have deserved lead vocals on a song – be it with “Jailer, Bring Me Water” or his great version of “I Got It” (or “Glory of Love” off his solo record?).

All in all, I’m happy that the Brandos are back and that I’ll be seeing them again this Saturday in Bad Rappenau!

The Brandos live in Metzingen-Glems

  1. Fight for Love
  2. The Only Love I Can Get
  3. Let It Go
  4. Anna Lee
  5. Señor Coyote
  6. The Solution
  7. The Keeper
  8. Suffer in Silence
  9. Querer a los Niños
  10. Love of My Life
  11. What Kind of a World
  12. She’s the One
  13. Woodstock Guitar
  14. Bella Encantadora
  15. Over the Border
  16. Pass the Hat
  17. Gettysburg
  18. Can’t Go Home
  19. Maligna Presencia
  20. These Troubled Times
  21. Nothing to Fear
  22. The Light of Day
  23. Gunfire at Midnight

Richard Shindell live in Oldenburg

Shindell in Germany – it felt like my patriotic duty to attend the show in Oldenburg last Sunday. The Wilhelm 13 is a sweet, cozy venue. A steady stream of people arrived, every other wondering aloud that they had expected to be the only ones in the audience (partly due to the soccer match Germany vs. Norway, which took place that night.) In the end, the promoters had sold all tickets, making the event not just a musical success.

The show began shortly after 8 pm with “All Wide Open”, preceded by a quick “Guten Abend – that’s all I got”. The first set featured lots of new(ish) songs. “Transit” was more enigmatic than ever. It helped that the sound was very good, particularly the vocals. “Careless” was another early highlight. During “Parasol Ants”, Richard kept glancing at his lyrics book. With “Ascent” he warned the audience there would be mistakes because he hadn’t practiced the song and didn’t have the lyrics at hand. The rendition was spotless, though. This resulted in the situation of all available copies of “Blue Divide” being sold during the break. “Satellites” on the electric guitar had a nice drive. “Atlas Choking” has to be one of my favorite Shindell songs, and that night’s version was awesome.

The second set contained old and new, originals and covers side by side. “We Learned the Sea”, a Dar Williams cover, sounded particularly haunting. The venue wasn’t as hot as the UK pubs, and Richard seemed to appreciate the lack of sweat running down the guitar body. Anyway, “Are You Happy Now?” got some additional “Are You Happy Now?”s at the end and I think Clara lost some line during the last chorus. After announcing “The Next Best Western” and tuning the electric guitar for several minutes, the Western was ditched in favor of “There Goes Mavis” on the acoustic guitar.

“Any requests?”, Richard asked when he was called back for an encore. Silence. Then someone said: “Courier“. Good choice if you ask me. Great song, happy Johannes!

The second encore was a classic. I was just a bit confused by hearing the Joan Baez story while Richard seemed to play the intro to “The Ballad of Mary Magdalen” on the bouzouki. Naturally, “Reunion Hill” was played, eventually.

“Any more requests?”, was the question before the third encore. Silence. Then someone said: “Che Guevera T-Shirt”. “That’s a long and complicated song”, said Richard, considered it briefly, but then opted for “Stray Cow Blues”.

The Stage

  1. All Wide Open
  2. The Deer on the Parkway
  3. Transit
  4. Careless
  5. Parasol Ants
  6. Ascent
  7. Satellites
  8. Atlas Choking
  9. We Learned the Sea
  10. A Summer Wind, a Cotton Dress
  11. Midnight Bridge
  12. I Know You Rider
  13. Are You Happy Now?
  14. Get Up Clara
  15. There Goes Mavis
  16. The Courier
  17. Reunion Hill
  18. Stray Cow Blues

Bad Religion live in Stuttgart

Seit ich als Teenager anfing, mich für Musik zu begeistern, fürchtete ich Aussagen von Bands im Sinne von “auf dem neuen Album klingen wir erwachsener”. Denn das war stets das Signal für einen (teilweise starken) Qualitätsabfall. Mehr noch, ich wollte (und konnte) mir gar nicht richtig vorstellen, dass die ganzen guten Bands, die es gab, mal erwachsen bzw. einfach alt werden würden.

Obgleich der Punk tot war, reiften Bad Religion im Laufe der Zeit, mal besser, mal schlechter. Insgesamt schaffte es die Band jedenfalls von der 80er-Kult-Combo zu 90er-Stars zu werden und danach – trotz einiger schwächerer Alben – authentisch zu bleiben. Den Vorwurf, immer wieder das gleiche Lied zu schreiben, bekam die Gruppe schon früh in ihrer Karriere zu hören. Das war ihr freilich egal.

Der Reife-, sprich Alterungsprozess war am Montag Abend auch im Publikum zu sehen. Im ausverkauften Longhorn tummelten sich eher ältere Semester und nur ganz vereinzelt gefärbte Haare und Irokesenschnitte. Bestand etwa die Gefahr der Altersmilde? Das unangekündigte, eher unharmonische Vorprogramm (The Rattlesnakes) verzögerte den Auftritt der Hauptband, doch als es kurz nach 21 Uhr schließlich mit “Crisis Time” losging, sprang die Stimmung ruckartig von abwartend relaxed auf begeistert tobend um. Und damit nicht genug. Bei “Stranger Than Fiction” zeigte sich, dass die Alben aus den 90er-Jahren offenbar zu den beliebtesten gehörten. Neben erwartbaren Klassikern wurden immer wieder großartiger Überraschungen eingestreut, meine persönlichen Highlights waren dabei “Skyscraper” (!), “Dearly Beloved” und “Against the Grain”. Gut, letzteres war vielleicht auch deshalb herausragend, weil es eine klitzekleine Verschnaufpause bot. Denn Sauerstoff war schon bald Mangelware in der Halle. Wie sollte es auch anders sein, wenn die komplette Menge von der Bühne bis zum Mischpult bei “21st Century (Digital Boy)” in Bewegung war? Die während des Auftritts konsumierten Getränke wurden umgehend in Schweiß verwandelt. Nicht hygienisch, aber großartig!

Greg Graffin verstand es, die insgesamt eher knappen Ansagen herrlich lakonisch rüberzubringen. Beispielsweise hätte die Band schon immer über soziale Ungleichheiten gesungen, wobei sie am Anfang in den untersten 10 Prozent gewesen seien und nun eben – Augenzwinkern – in den obersten. “Sinister Rouge” war toll, “Generator” sowieso. “Punk Rock Song” läutete den Zugabenblock ein, der mit “American Jesus” (“see him on the Autobahn”) bestens beschlossen wurde. Ziemlich genau 90 Minuten lang dauerte das Dauerfeuer aus flotten Punksongs – und für arg viel mehr hätte die Kondition (oder zumindest der Sauerstoff) vermutlich auch kaum gereicht. Fest stand auf alle Fälle, dass Bad Religion auch anno 2016 frei von Ermüdungserscheinungen das machen, was sie am besten können: drei Akkorde in musikalische Begeisterung und akustische Energie verwandeln.

Bad Religion live in Stuttgart - pic by Jutze

  1. Crisis Time
  2. Supersonic
  3. Prove It
  4. Can’t Stop It
  5. Stranger Than Fiction
  6. I Want to Conquer the World
  7. Only Rain
  8. New America
  9. Skyscraper
  10. Modern Man
  11. Turn on the Light
  12. Anesthesia
  13. Flat Earth Society
  14. Against the Grain
  15. God Song
  16. 21st Century (Digital Boy)
  17. Fuck You
  18. Dearly Beloved
  19. Suffer
  20. Recipe for Hate
  21. Come Join Us
  22. Fuck Armageddon… This Is Hell
  23. Los Angeles Is Burning
  24. Do What You Want
  25. Overture
  26. Sinister Rouge
  27. Generator
  28. You
  29. Sorrow
  30. Punk Rock Song
  31. Infected
  32. American Jesus

Help! A Beatles Tribute live in Schramberg

On Saturday, July 4th, 2015, I finally got to see Help! A Beatles Tribute. Two band members used to play with The Brandos, which is why I became aware of this Beatles cover band in the first place. Still, I went to the concert primarily to hear Beatles songs – and, hopefully, to get an idea what a Beatles concert would sound in the year 2015 if John, Paul, George, and Ringo had magically travelled through time (and had even more magically solved their conflicts). So I drove to Schramberg in the middle of the Black Forest. It was a particularly hot summer day and the town seemed very sleepy. As the sun set, however, people flocked to the venue, a beautiful garden area. About 350 people had arrived when the four musicians appeared on stage.

The music sounded terrific, mostly because the songs were and are amazing, but also because the band brought the tracks to life with fervent passion and dedication. This wasn’t about creating an exact copy of the original in terms of looks, chronology, or stage banter. Yet, the songs themselves were performed faithfully to the point where you could just close your eyes and pretend to witness the magical journey through time mentioned above. Here was a group of musicians with strong voices and even more impressive melodies. Song after song, hit after hit, classic after classic – it was a barrage of the very best that music has to offer. The first set was a blazing journey through 2-minute pop symphonies. The second set was more of the same with a few songs off the later albums. I just loved that Help! A Beatles Tribute focused on songs that work in a live setting.

There was hardly any pause between songs. There were no solos, no pointless animation attempts, no tiresome history excursions. Only once in every set did the band encourage singing along (“Yellow Submarine” and “Hey Jude”). Plus, there was a conga-line (Polonaise in German) during “Ob-la-di Ob-la-da”. Naturally, people sang along during most of the songs, anyway. The song selection left nothing to be desired. A few lesser known songs spiced up the show – and similarly to the original, there were a few driving cover songs sounded oh so good. I don’t remember the exact setlist, but the list below should be rather complete. If you get the opportunity to see the band (tour dates can be found here), go to their concert!

Help! A Beatles Tribute live in Schramberg (2015-07-04)

First Set:

A Hard Day’s Night
Eight Days a Week
Ticket to Ride
Love Me Do
I Should Have Known Better
Please Please Me
It Won’t Be Long
Rock and Roll Music
I Feel Fine
We Can Work It Out
The Night Before
From Me to You
Please Mr. Postman
Yellow Submarine
Can’t Buy Me Love
I Want to Hold Your Hand
Long Tall Sally

Second Set:

Help!
Day Tripper
Drive My Car
Paperback Writer
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
I Saw Her Standing There
Get Back
Here Comes the Sun
Come Together
Revolution
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Ob-la-di Ob-la-da
I Wanna Be Your Man
She Loves You
Let It Be
Twist And Shout
Get Back
Don’t Let Me Down
With a Little Help From My Friends
Hey Jude

Encores:

The Ballad of John and Yoko
All My Loving
Yesterday
Roll Over Beethoven
Something

The Hooters live in Neuleiningen

The Hooters are touring Germany relentlessly. Having seen more than 20 gigs and having written about several of them here, I find it a bit tiresome to write about the regular stuff afterwards. The trend away from lots of jamming towards a tight collection of classic songs and a few other tunes continued at the concert in Neuleiningen on July 3, 2015. The small town near Mannheim used a (gorgeous) castle ruin to stage the show. It was a really hot day, but it became bearable towards the evening. The walls around the court provided some shade and nobody seemed to mind the absence of an opening band. The show was sold-out.

I find it funny that I have never seen the Hooters in the same venue twice. They keep branching out into small towns and other pampa regions. The audiences are remarkably similar (unless it’s a big, big festival thing like Sound of Pop with about 100,000 people in the audience). The front row consists of die hard fans. They are rocking out from the first note on. The rest of the audience needs a few songs until they start grooving along. It helps when “Day by Day” appears early on. The Neuliningen concert featured a surprisingly large number of songs off “Nervous Night”. I was happy to hear “Hanging on a Heartbeat” for the first time. I’d suspect, however, that German audience are well familiar with the subsequent albums, too. From what I read in interviews, “Zig Zag” isn’t the band’s favourite album, so that might explain the reluctance to go beyond “500 Miles” and the occasional “Deliver Me”. The first encore, “Give the Music Back”, made a strong case that the album does deserve some of the limelight.

From “Karla With a K” onwards, everybody was eagerly cheering, singing along, and simply having a great time. Naturally, “All You Zombies” had paved the way, and the German parts of “Private Emotion” elicited a strong reaction. All in all, it was yet another excellent gig that underscored band’s reputation as a live band.

The Hooters setlist in Neuleiningen (2015-07-03)

  1. I’m Alive
  2. Hanging on a Heartbeat
  3. Day By Day
  4. Silver Lining
  5. Morning Buzz
  6. Private Emotion
  7. South Ferry Road
  8. All You Zombies
  9. The Boys of Summer
  10. Graveyard Waltz (Slight Return)
  11. 500 Miles
  12. Where Do the Children Go
  13. Karla With a K
  14. Twenty-Five Hours a Day
  15. Satellite
  16. And We Danced
  17. Pissing in the Rhine
  18. Give the Music Back
  19. Johnny B
  20. Major Tom (Völlig losgelöst)
  21. One of Us
  22. Time After Time

Dar Williams live in Krefeld

Dar Williams has been touring in the United States steadily for over 20 years. She also played a few shows in the UK and in the Netherlands from time to time. On Saturday, 30th May, she played her first German concert in 17 years. I was thrilled! Much to my delight, I wasn’t the only one at the Kulturfabrik that evening. About 100 people showed up, filling the small club to the last row. The opening act was North Alone, a singer/guitarist with a fiddle player. The voice reminded me of Tom Waits, but the music was quite folky and upbeat. The audience (myself included) needed a few songs to warm up to the duo. I liked the songs “Missing Heart Shadow”, “Scatter My Ashes in the Sea”, and the closer “The Road Most Traveled” best. That last song in particular sounded really good and had everybody sing along at the end

Dar Williams entered the stage with a somewhat lengthy welcome speech that included the German translations of babysitter and hippie. Her first song was consequently “The Babysitter’s Here”. Dar accidentally said “The play was called ‘The Babysitter'” in the middle part, which was funny. Each song was met with friendly applause. “Emerald” and “Buzzer” were two highlights early in the set. When Dar asked for requests, many different song titles were yelled – and she played pretty much all of them! First came “Iowa”. Dar timidly asked us to sing along and someone in the audience replied “We won’t let you down!”, which drove any tension that might have remained at this point. Sing along, we did! It’s such a great song. Dar’s voice shone on “You’re Aging Well” (another request). <fanboy>She really is the best!</fanboy>

There was the usual banter between songs. Some stories did not really relate to the following song (e.g., her husband had asked her to thank the Germans for improving the passive house building techniques over the past few decades), some were funny, some were graceful, some were sincere. It still baffles me that Dar never seems tell any anecdote twice. Much too soon, she had played her final song. Thankfully, she came back for two encores (“February” and “Are You Out There”, both fantastic in their own way). Afterwards, she patiently signed cds and talked to the fans. There seems to be hope for future concerts in Germany. I’ll be there!

Dar Williams live in Krefeld (2015-05-30) - Picture by Johannes Schult

  1. The Babysitter’s Here
  2. Spring Street
  3. The Beauty of the Rain
  4. Emerald
  5. Slippery Slope
  6. Buzzer
  7. Empty Plane
  8. Iowa (Traveling III)
  9. You’re Aging Well
  10. Something to Get Through
  11. The One Who Knows
  12. Mercy of the Fallen
  13. New York Is a Harbor
  14. When I Was a Boy
  15. February
  16. Are You Out There

Chris de Burgh live in Mannheim

Perhaps the most magnificent element of the Chris de Burgh concert in Mannheim last Tuesday was the perfect sound mix. Unlike most live concerts, it wasn’t too loud. The vocals were crystal clear, the bass present but never obnoxious, the drums a piece of the puzzle instead of a bulldozer driving all across the puzzle. The acoustics of the Mozartsaal certainly helped transporting the sound to the audience’s ears. The light show was inventive but again never distracting from the actual star of the show: the music. Sure, some fans might indulge in seeing Chris de Burgh. I, however, was there for the music. Once again, the setlist (see below for pic and details) contained a balanced mixture of old and new material. There were plenty of songs that hadn’t been played for many years; there were the inevitable classics; there were seven songs off the new album “The Hands of Man” – some great (like “Where Would I Be?”), the rest at least good; there were other songs that were neither classics nor obscurities – “Where Peaceful Waters Flow”, “The Spirit of Man”, “The Same Sun”.

The mood was good on stage as well as in front of the stage. In addition to the usual presents (flowers, wine) Chris also got tomato soup. The first few songs were presented without comment. Later on, the banter between songs grew longer. It was generally filled with thankfulness and a bit of wit. In my opinion, the only flaw was the use of click tracks and samples during some of the band songs. Don’t get me wrong, “Go Where Your Heart Believes” sounded brilliant with those strings. It just made the show seem a bit like a TV show rather than a live show. I’m sure the band could have easily played the songs without additional help. I still enjoyed the songs, of course, even with the diminished tempo dynamics. As for the highlights, there were plenty.

“Transmission Ends” was wonderful, “Say Goodbye to It All” made me cry, the acoustic session proved that the players on stage don’t need to rely on backing tracks. And the solo section with “Carry Me”, “Borderline”, and “Where Peaceful Waters Flow” demonstrated that Chris de Burgh is still very much an amazing singer, musician, and performer. Then there was the cheesy synth sound in “Man on the Line” (awesome!). “Spanish Train” and “A Spaceman Came Travelling” were a blast from the past that got lots of applause. And for the encore, “Patricia the Stripper” made an (acoustic) appearance!

This was my fourth Chris de Burgh concert. Once again, the Irish singer delivered a fresh performance with just a few inevitable repetitions (which, by the way, haven’t lost any of their appeal – “don’t do it!”). And not only did he cover most periods of his career, the fans embraced pretty much every song with equal appreciation. The “cost” of this is probably a slightly smaller audience (the hall was pretty much sold out with maybe 1,700 people) compared with the draw of a pure best of program. The ticket prices were rather steep, so you certainly won’t find me at another concert of the current tour. Yet, from a musical and emotional perspective, it was an excellent show, sincere, uplifting, thoughtful, moving, and towards the end even rocking.

Setlist Chris de Burgh Mannheim (2015-05-26)

  1. The Hands of Man
  2. Big City Sundays
  3. The Light on the Bay
  4. Have a Care
  5. Go Where Your Heart Believes
  6. The Candlestick
  7. Ship to Shore
  8. The Same Sun
  9. Spanish Train
  10. Through These Eyes
  11. Transmission Ends
  12. A Spaceman Came Travelling
  13. Man on the Line
  14. Missing You (acoustic)
  15. Pure Joy (acoustic)
  16. Love of the Heart Divine (acoustic)
  17. There Goes My Heart Again (acoustic)
  18. Carry Me (Like a Fire in Your Heart)
  19. Borderline
  20. Where Peaceful Waters Flow
  21. Where Would I Be?
  22. The Words “I Love You”
  23. The Keeper of the Keys
  24. The Lady in Red
  25. Africa
  26. The Spirit of Man
  27. Say Goodbye to It All
  28. Don’t Pay the Ferryman
  29. High on Emotion
  30. Patricia the Stripper
  31. The Moonfleet Finale

Dar Williams live in York

Dar Williams played at the Fibbers in York on March 11, 2014. She was her usual charming self and played a wonderful collection of songs. Given her back catalogue, it’s impossible to honour all requests. The upside of this is that pretty much every track is a winner. First, there were some gripping songs from her recent album, “In the Time of Gods”, and standard songs from her live repertoire. I was really happy that she played “Buzzer”, not only because I was there with some other psychologists. “The Ocean” and “February” were also personal highlights. The mix of upbeat and softer songs was perfect. Needless to say, the classic songs like “The Babysitter’s Here”, “When I Was a Boy”, and “As Cool as I Am” received the loudest applause from the roughly 90 people in the audience. I was pleasantly surprised that they sounded as fresh as the first time I heard them many years ago.

The music was great. The guitar was a tad too loud sometimes but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment. And there was, of course, a lot of insightful and funny banter between songs. The unique voice of Dar’s storystelling alone is worth the (humble) price of admission. I do hope there won’t be another eight year until I get to see her in concert again!

Dar Williams - live in York (2014)

Setlist:

  1. The Light and the Sea
  2. The Beauty of the Rain
  3. Spring Street
  4. I Have Been Around the World
  5. Buzzer
  6. Holly Tree
  7. I’ll Miss You Till I Meet You
  8. The Babysitter’s Here
  9. The Ocean
  10. The One Who Knows
  11. As Cool as I Am
  12. Storm King
  13. February
  14. When I Was a Boy
  15. The Christians and the Pagans

Over.

Chris de Burgh live in Trier (2013-04-05)

The concert was the first of the current tour, so the setlist was a complete surprise to everybody. Once again, Chris de Burgh had compiled a nice mix of old and new tracks. I really like how he brings back different older songs every tour. He also presented a new song, The Fields of Agincourt. It was in the vein of his battle songs with various moods that culminated in a forte ending. The audience was attentive and rather relaxed, especially towards the end. I especially enjoyed the Moonfleet songs and The Ballroom of Romance. The cover songs worked surprisingly well and brightened the atmosphere even further. Brother John felt a bit out of place; and The Mirror of the Soul and Bal Masqué had already been played four years ago at the same place. Anyway, it was a pleasant concert with a solid band performance and De Burgh’s impressive voice.

  1. Waiting for the Hurricane
  2. The Spirit of Man
  3. Up Here in Heaven
  4. Missing You
  5. The Traveller
  6. Ship to Shore
  7. The Mirror of the Soul
  8. The Same Sun
  9. The Escape
  10. Greater Love
  11. Already There
  12. The Fields of Agincourt
  13. Tender Hands
  14. Living on the Island
  15. Love and Time
  16. Summer Rain
  17. I’m Not Scared Anymore
  18. Borderline
  19. The Ballroom of Romance
  20. The Lady in Red
  21. Blue Bayou
  22. Let It Be
  23. Lady Madonna
  24. Long Train Running
  25. Africa
  26. Brother John
  27. Bal Masqué
  28. Don’t Pay the Ferryman
  29. High on Emotion
  30. The Snows of New York
  31. The Moonfleet Finale

Chris de Burgh live in Bamberg

Maybe the most impressive feature of the concert in Bamberg (29th August 2012) was the sound. Live concerts tend to be loud and more often than not individual voices are lost in the mix. Not so here. The sound was crystal clear, yet warm and chiming. No pounding drums, no thundering bass, no screeching guitars, no dominant keyboards – just music. The venue was filled with melodies and, of course, Chris de Burgh‘s strong voice. He appeared on stage shortly after 8 pm and received a lot of applause. The first two songs – “First Steps” and “Fatal Hesitation” – seemed to me a bit like a warming up. It was the next song, “Sailing Away”, that really grabbed me, possibly because it was pretty much the first de Burgh song I consciously heard, back in 1990 as a 10 year old boy when my parents watched the Live in Dublin VHS tape.

The solo versions of the songs lacked extensive solo parts – which was a good thing, if you ask me. There were no excessive sing along parts, no fancy song intros; we got “pure” Chris de Burgh. There were a lot of ballads on the setlist, which was fine with me. “Love and Time” worked very well in the new arrangement and “Carry Me (Like a Fire in Your Heart)” was just soo beautiful. There were a couple of songs I found less engaging, like “It’s Such a Long Way Home” and “Oh My Brave Hearts”. The latter one is just rehashing “The Revolution” in my opinion. Thankfully, “The Revolution / Light a Fire” was played, eventually. I had seen some of the previous setlists online, so I wasn’t completely surprised by the setlist. Still, the songs that were requested specifically in Bamberg (e.g. “In Love Forever”) were pleasant surprises. I’m so glad this tour takes place, because as much as a “regular” concert can be entertaining, the “immediateness”, the anything-goes aspect made this evening unique. Chris also told us that he had learned a new phrase in German: “Die Küche ist geschlossen.”

He was in a good mood and had no trouble at all entertaining 1200 people for about 2.5 hours straight. It was clear that he couldn’t play all requests; and personally I would have liked to hear any other song from Moonfleet (great album) than the two he played (“Pure Joy”, “Everywhere I Go”). But I’m not complaining. There were so many great songs (“The Road to Freedom”, “In a Country Churchyard”, “Where Peaceful Waters Flow”, “Waiting for the Hurricane”, “The Girl With April in Her Eyes”) from almost all albums, I rarely stopped smiling. A particular highlight this time around (itwas only my second Chris de Burgh concert after Trier 2009) was “Say Goodbye to It All”. It was preceded by “Borderline”, which sounded good, but cheesier than necessary due to the e-piano-strings. The all piano version of “Say Goodbye to It All” gave the song a fresh feeling, made it less repetitive and, well, I enjoyed it immensely. I was surprised how well “A Woman’s Heart” worked as a dancing song. The funniest part of the evening was probably when he sang the line “the perfect man” and hinted at himself with a grin.

The performance was spot on and certainly not something you get to see every day (or even every year). I don’t think it resembled the early days of Chris’ career, when he had to struggle with sound, lighting and (Supertramp) stage managers. Still, it showed the essence of the music as well as the charming personality of the man way better than any fancy stadium show could ever do. My seat in row 2 had cost more than 80 Euros, which was quite expensive in my opinion. Then again, there were hardly any empty seats in the room, so it all comes down to supply and demand. And this evening wasn’t about economics, but all about music and stories. And I had a great evening!

Chris de Burgh live in Bamberg 2012

  1. First Steps
  2. Fatal Hesitation
  3. Sailing Away
  4. Missing You
  5. Here Is Your Paradise
  6. It’s Such a Long Way Home
  7. In Love Forever
  8. Tender Hands
  9. Songbird
  10. Pure Joy
  11. Borderline
  12. Say Goodbye to It All
  13. The Road to Freedom
  14. Sailor
  15. Oh My Brave Hearts
  16. Waiting for the Hurricane
  17. In the Ghetto
  18. Love and Time
  19. Carry Me (Like a Fire in Your Heart)
  20. The Girl With April in Her Eyes
  21. Spirit
  22. In a Country Churchyard
  23. The Lady in Red
  24. The Revolution / Light a Fire
  25. Everywhere I Go
  26. A Woman’s Heart
  27. Where Peaceful Waters Flow
  28. Don’t Pay the Ferryman
  29. High on Emotion
  30. Those Were the Days
  31. The Snows of New York
  32. Goodnight