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

Sophie Madeleine live in New York City

Thursday, June 28th, found me attending the seventh music event on the eighth day of my vacation. I had strolled the streets of Manhattan earlier that day and ate a delicious veggie burger at Earthmatters (177 Ludlow St New York, NY 10011). My feet got tired, eventually, and it was still rather hot outside, so I went to the Rockwood Music Hall in time to catch a couple of songs by the first artist playing there that evening. Matt Dorien sounded quite nice, playing some sort of mellow but not really mellow country folk songs (a bit Paul Simon-y in terms of the vocals) with a neat backing band. The sound man provided a good, balanced mix throughout the evening; my tortured ears were thankful. There were eight people in the audience (including me). I could write a whole post about this alone, because it shows a) that playing in NYC isn’t necessarily as glamorous as it sounds and b) despite the meagre attendance, the musicians gave it all and earned if not money at least valuable respect and experience.

Next came Emily Elbert, a jazzy singer who accompanied herself on acoustic guitar. She actually tore one of the strings towards the end, because her playing was quite energetic, yet still artistic. Her command of her talent was impressive, however, I’m not a fan of such daring tonalities. The crowd (about 25 by now!) liked her quite a bit, though. Daniel and the Lion played laid back folk songs, but they had an aweful lot of very somber, soft songs. My attention drifted time and again as I failed to connect to the songs. The duo (piano and guitar/vocals) had come from Wisconsin to find about 30 people listening (which made the venue half-empty/half-full). Again, I doubt any artist can achieve sustainable success without this sort of commitment. Still, even then it comes down to whether the front row is swinging in the groove or not. People seemed to enjoy the show and were listening attentively during the quiet parts, even though they had chatted loudly just a few minutes earlier. This certainly helped to make the performers feel good.

Around 9 pm it was time for Sophie Madeleine, the reason I had come to the venue. She’s one half of Rocky & Balls whom I first found out about through Tom of the Boffo Yux Dudes. Some of her songs are way too “fluffy” for my taste. Still, she has produced a few gems – and admission was free, after all! When Sophie (together with Timothy on guitar and harmony vocals) entered the stage, I was skeptical, because there was a ton of gear. Miraculously, the change over didn’t take too long and everything worked. When the show began with pre-recorded loop samples, I was afraid that the gig would turn into a karaoke session. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case. Most songs were played 100% live – and for some songs, the loops were recorded on location, which was quite fascinating. Sophie did play my favourite song of hers, “Little One“, so I was happy. She also premiered a new song that was possibly the most introverted of the songs she played. The audience (still 30 noses) was once again attentive yet a bit reserved. I found it quite impressive to see such a flawless performance close-up in this small room right there in the middle of the big city.

Sophie Madeleine live in New York

I was tempted to stay longer because all artists had been quite skilled and four more were to play. (The venue has hourly slots for artists every day of the week.) But my hotel bed beckoned and I wanted to end my week-long music adventure with a positive memory – and Sophie Madeleine had just provided one.

  1. Song to Fall in Love to
  2. The Rhythm You Started
  3. Little One
  4. Stars
  5. Butterfly Child
  6. Beautiful Lie (new song, not sure about the title)
  7. Come Follow Me

Dr. Frank live in Baltimore

It was Thursday, June 21st. I had arrived in Philadelphia coming from Zürich and drove south into the heat of Maryland (104° Fahrenheit). Not the most relaxing way to start one’s vacation but I didn’t want to miss the rare opportunity to see some one of the most underrated punk musicians coming out of retirement. After three hours of sleep in the hotel I got up and drove to the Ottobar. I got there half an hour before midnight local time. Mikey Erg was still on stage and sang some pop punk songs on his own with just an electric guitar (sounding excellent). His songs were pretty cool and he was obviously enjoying the gig. The audience – maybe 200 people – was in a good mood, too, albeit a bit exhausted, because the event (Insubordination Fest) was already rolling since 6 pm.

Mikey Erg live in Baltimore (June 21st, 2012)

Dr. Frank hit the stage after a really quick change over. His backing band that night were the Mixtapes, who delivered a powerful, passionate performance. Dr. Frank himself wasn’t completely sober and kept on drinking throughout the show. I guess a proper punk rock concert was a nice change for him compared to his usual book reading events that take place during the day and have young adult readers in the audience. I had no idea what kind of setlist to expect. Needless to say I was thrilled when “Sackcloth and Ashes” was played as opener. A barrage of MTX classics followed (“Here She Comes”! “Semi-OK”! “I Love You, but You’re Standing on My Foot”!). I loved every minute of it! The 30-second song “Told You Once” (off the “Short Music for Short People” compilation) was played three times in a row before the other musicians left Dr. Frank alone on stage for a couple of softer songs (mainly about alcohol and romance).

The mood during this part of the show was especially relaxed. It was cool to see several other artists standing by the side of the stage and singing along every word by heart. After a formidable version of “Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend”, the House Boat guys joined Dr. Frank for a couple of songs. Finally, two of the best songs (“Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba” and “Dumb Little Band”) from the best MTX album “Love Is Dead” concluded the set and the audience went wild one last time. There were stagedivers and happy faces and all was good despite the Baltimore heat at 1 am.

Dr. Frank (and the Mixtapes) live in Baltimore

I hesitate to lament the lack of public interest in the event. It was great to see this style of music played in such a small place. No way a stadium gig could feel as imminent. It all reminded me of the MTX concert I attended back in 2001 in Stuttgart, Germany. Maybe it’s even a good thing that shows like these have become scarce. We’re all getting older and punk rock nostalgia is one of the ugliest forms of nostalgia if you ask me. Still, on that sweaty Thursday night Love might have been dead, but Punk certainly wasn’t.

  1. Sackcloth and Ashes
  2. Last Time I Listened to You
  3. Danny Partridge Got Busted
  4. Here She Comes
  5. She’s No Rocket Scientist
  6. I Love You, but You’re Standing on My Foot
  7. Semi-OK
  8. I Wrote a Book About Rock and Roll
  9. Told You Once
  10. Told You Once
  11. Told You Once
  12. Now That You Are Gone
  13. She Runs Out When the Money Does
  14. Two Martinis From Now
  15. Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend
  16. Gilman Street
  17. More Than Toast
  18. Somebody Who Cares
  19. Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba
  20. Dumb Little Band
  21. How’d the Date End?

PS: I’ll leave you with the wise words of Ben Weasel, who wrote on February 1st, 2004: In the meantime it’s worth the price of admission and then some to see [the Mr. T Experience] play. Whatever one of those American Pie bands might be worth, the MTX is worth double, and I’m being kind to the AP bands. Buy their CDs. See them play. Be one of those few people who vote with their dollars for substance over posturing; for quality over marketing magic. Because twenty-five years from now, do you really wanna be the person who decided to see Journey when you could’ve seen AC/DC with Bon Scott? Of course you don’t.

Omas Weihnachtsessen – Jutze live in Konstanz

Last Friday I played here in Konstanz at the Rheintorturm. Thomas and Suff-X played as well. It was a lot of fun. Here’s a first video from that evening, “Omas Weihnachtsessen” – a Paul and Storm cover.

My setlist ended up looking like this:

  1. Die wichtigen Fragen
  2. Einkaufszettel
  3. Konrad
  4. Die Müllabfuhr der Seele
  5. Toilet Song
  6. A Mallful of Brains
  7. Omas Weihnachtsessen
  8. Reis
  9. I Wish Natalie Portman Was my Neighbour
  10. Der Speckgürtel von Paderborn

Richard Shindell live in London

Richard Shindell live in London (2011-11-20) live photo by Johannes Schult

Here’s a review of Richard Shindell‘s early show at the Green Note in London, November 20th, 2011 (abbridged version of my post on the Shindell List).

The Green Note is a wonderful pub in Camden/London. Unfortunately, they didn’t serve any food this early, but the menu looked delicious. The staff was very friendly and made the stay even more enjoyable. There were maybe 50 people and the place was rather packed. (The evening show was sold out; this one possibly, too.)

There was a window in the roof, so the stage actually faced towards daylight. Richard pretended to be annoyed when he came on stage and remarked that he was practically a vampire. “Fishing” isn’t the happiest song in the universe, so the lack of visual gloom didn’t really matter. Richard talked a lot between songs. He told the story behind the guitar (from 1931, which he had bought from Stephen Bruton) in “Your Guitar”, a new song that has a somber feeling, sort of the atmosphere of “Abuelita” mixed with the rhythm of “State of the Union”. Some of the harmonies are pure gold. “Deer on the Parkway”, another new song, followed. He elaborated on the story of the original title (“Deer on the Saw Mill”) and that he didn’t like the implication: “Just… gore.” It sounds a bit like atmosphere of “Calling the Moon” mixed with the rhythm of “Parasol Ants”. I’m looking forward to hear a fully produced version.

“Abuelita” was the first real surprise. I really like how (so far) every Richard Shindell concert I attended featured a couple of songs I haven’t heard live before. I’m also fascinated that there appears to be a healthy mix of all studio albums in Richard’s setlists. In “Transit” he sang “Democrats and Republicans; but mainly Republicans”, which drew some laughter. The audience was “civil”, yet the closeness kept everybody attentive. “Get Up Clara” was groovy with its intricate finger picking and the dark atmosphere. In the middle part he inserted a talking bit that went like: “Here should be a bridge; but it would have to be an aqueduct.” He then promoted his “new” album, “Thirteen Songs You, Or May Not Have Heard Before”. He went on a detour about how it is not (yet) available in the U.S. – and how in the 80s people had always “gone to the UK” and then reappeared as rock stars. He translated this situation to his career in a hilarious way, saying that he’s hoping to raise his hipness factor by having a U.K.-only album – at least for another week before the U.S. release.

There was another unexpected song: “Canciòn Sencilla”. Once again, Richard spent almost as much time telling the story behind the lyrics as he spent playing the actual song. Did I mention that Richard was singing and playing fantastically? He took his time tuning and re-tuning his guitar, but apart from it was a great performance, technically flawless and still really intense. Between “Arrowhead” and “Reunion Hill” he recounted his encounters with civil war reenactors (that are attracted by his war songs) and how they asked him what kind of underwear the characters in his songs would have worn. Unlike the humorous chatter between songs, the actual song (“Reunion Hill”) was just sublime – so hauntingly beautiful! The encore was yet another surprise: “Mariana’s Table”, Richard’s favourite song off “Not Far Now”. He described his new home in Argentina at great length, suggesting that the seemingly endless pampa there would cause “horizontal vertigo”.

After the gig, Richard sold his CD and was, just like during the concert, very nice and talkative. All in all it had been a wonderful concert with many new songs, quite a few unexpected rarities, and some of the classical Shindell “hits”. Here’s the complete setlist:

  • Fishing
  • Your Guitar
  • Deer on the Parkway
  • Are You Happy Now?
  • Abuelita
  • Transit
  • The Last Fare of the Day
  • Get Up Clara
  • Satellites
  • Stray Cow Blues
  • Canciòn Sencilla
  • Arrowhead
  • Reunion Hill
  • There Goes Mavis
  • Mariana’s Table

Richard Shindell live in Twickenham

Last Sunday, Richard Shindell played at the Twickenham Folk Club (upstairs in the Cabbage Patch Pub). It was the third time I saw him live. This time around Richard’s music was augmented by the very tasteful electric guitar playing of Marc Shulman.

I won’t bother you with boring details (keeping that for the Shindell mailing list). Among my personal highlights were a fantastic version of “Fishing”, the groovy new “Stray Cow Blues”, the 3/4-and-yet-no-waltz taxi drive meets folk song masterpiece “The Last Fare of the Day”, and finally “Wisteria”, the achingly beautiful song about a nostalgic encounter with a place from one’s past. It doesn’t get better than this! The timeless story of “Reunion Hill” and the soothing darkness of “Nora” deserve a mention, as well.

Both musicians were in excellent shape. I loved how the whole gig was not a preprogrammed set but a dynamic journey through Richard’s repertoire (along with a couple of cover songs in between). Concert stables like “Transit” were thus played along with requests like “Nora” and “Confession”, the latter featuring very good impromptu arrangements by Marc Shulman. Richard kept telling stories in between songs, which added to the already rewarding concert experience. I really hope he’ll be back in Europe next year or so.

Marc Shulman and Richard Shindell

  1. The Kenworth of My Dreams
  2. You Stay Here
  3. Transit
  4. The Last Fare of the Day
  5. She Belongs to Me
  6. Fishing
  7. Nora
  8. A Change Is Gonna Come
  9. Confession
  10. Stray Cow Blues
  11. Wisteria
  12. Satellites
  13. Get Up Clara
  14. There Goes Mavis
  15. A Summer Wind, a Cotton Dress
  16. Reunion Hill
  17. Arrowhead
  18. One Man’s Arkansas

The Hooters live in Friedrichshafen

Yesterday, the Hooters played in Friedrichshafen. This was the first time I had to take the ferry to get to a concert. Funnily, the band played “South Ferry Road” this time around. They also had plenty of songs from “Out of Body” in the setlist, four in total. I liked that. Two new songs from the upcoming EP “Five by Five” were also featured. “Pissing in the Rhine” was sung in German; a quick rocking opening track with no deeper meaning as far as I can tell from one listen. “Silver Lining” was a bit closer to serenity of the “Time Stand Still” record, yet had an upbeat infectious chorus. One of the highlights was the ending of “500 Miles”. Eric (on harmonica) and guest musician Tommy Williams (on guitar, helping out until Eric’s broken shoulder is healed) delivered a fascinating duel that reminded me of the tours in 2004 and 2005, when the band jammed quite a lot. I wasn’t perfectly happy with Johnny B being put into the encore section of the setlist. I always loved how “the big hit” came on halfway through the set, paving the way for a grand finale of non-stop rock with Karla, Satellite, Danced and so on. Anyway, be sure to catch the band on their 30th anniversary tour this summer!

  1. Pissing in the Rhine
  2. Day by Day
  3. South Ferry Road
  4. Fightin’ on the Same Side
  5. The Boys of Summer
  6. Great Big American Car
  7. Silver Lining
  8. 500 Miles
  9. Morning Buzz
  10. Deliver Me
  11. Private Emotion
  12. I’m Alive
  13. Twenty-Five Hours a Day
  14. Satellite
  15. All You Zombies
  16. Karla With a K
  17. And We Danced
  18. Johnny B
  19. Free Again
  20. Boys Will Be Boys
  21. One of Us
  22. Time After Time

Fran Smith, Jr. (The Hooters) live in Friedrichshafen

Ninja Dolls live in Konstanz

One of Sweden’s finest punk rock bands, Ninja Dolls, visited Konstanz on Thursday night. They played a tight, quick set featuring three songs off their new “D.I.Y.”-EP along with most of the songs from “1 2 3 Go!” (which was one of my favourite albums 2009). Malin’s voice showed a little strain towards the end of the set, but overall she proved to be an excellent lead singer who handled the old material with ease. As an encore we got a nice cover version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”. Other highlights were the acoustic version of “Valentine” and, well, pretty much every other song. I only missed “Run and Hide”. Still, it was an enjoyable show, albeit a rather short one. (Just observing, not complaining here – admission was free, after all.)

Ninja Dolls live in Konstanz

  1. We Gave It All Away
  2. Miss Young and Naive
  3. You’re a Monster
  4. All Mixed Up
  5. Old Mariann
  6. Don’t Wanna Go Home
  7. Valentine (Is Just a Reason to Get Drunk)
  8. Who Am I Fooling?
  9. Harry’s Got to Go
  10. Who’s Pretending
  11. The Last Song About You (for This Time)
  12. Jolene

Pain of Salvation live in Pratteln

Pain of Salvation played in Pratteln at the Z7 yesterday. I must confess that I’m not a big fan of the band’s more recent work. Still, “The Perfect Element Part 1” remains one of my all-time top 10 albums. A total of four song off that album were on the setlist, so I was indeed thrilled. Additional highlights were the raw “Fandango” with its weird measures and a haunting rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (rather differently arranged than on the DVD recording). The audience was very introverted. The musicians on stage were very extroverted. Daniel Gildenlöw, Johan Hallgren and the new bass player did not compromise but gave 100%. Despite the scarce response from the roughly 300 people present, the concert became a success. The sheer mastery of Gildenlöw as a singer and as a guitarist was mind-bending. Even the heavy noise of certain songs was ripe with contextual emotion. It was pretty hard to decide whether to go along and mosh or to just stand back and be in awe of the action on stage.

In total the band played 110 minutes and given the rarity of superb progressive metal in combination with a passionate live show I enjoyed every single one of them.

Pain of Salvation live in Pratteln 2009

  1. Used
  2. Diffidentia
  3. Linoleum
  4. Ashes
  5. Undertow
  6. Falling
  7. The Perfect Element
  8. Fandango
  9. Handful of Nothing
  10. Inside
  11. If You Wait
  12. Nightmist
  13. Hallelujah
  14. Conditioned
  15. Disco Queen