As Pavese wrote, we don't remember days, we remember moments... At Amphi Festival 2007 there were many such moments that etched themselves in our memory, either because they captured the energy emanating from the scene, or incredible quality of artistic expression presented by the bands, or the beauty of the music or fantastic visual part of the concerts.
The third edition of Amphi was exceptional also because of the range of bands chosen for the line-up – it won't be an exaggeration to say that the stars playing on two stages during two July nights overshadowed the ones in the sky...especially that the organizers of 07' edition provided not only the bigger but also more diversified line-up so that the fans of industrial, electro, gothic or dark wave had something to suit their taste. We were in no danger of monotony or surfeit attack then...
The Saturday 'war plan' was as follows – the 'theater' was a place of action for industrial bands whereas the main stage was occupied by superstars coming one after another leaving us breathless and delighted.
To get to Tanzbrunnen from the camp site (very nice one, indeed – surrounded by the corn field from one side and Rein and Cologne buildings from the other – I recommend it especially to those fond of contrasts :) took me a longer while, so when I finally found my way to the nearby of the sage the concert of Obscenity Trial had already begun. It was quite an energetic and dancy show which however, did not feature any particularly developed scenic part. Still, it was a good warm-up before what was to come next.
Just after their concert had finished we experienced the blast of some timing problems as one the bands – Bloodpit – did not show up at the Festival (due to their illness as we learnt afterwards) so the time schedule was a bit changed which made some us disoriented and desperately trying to grasp the new order of the fest.
The gents of Diorama appeared just afterwards – and there's no point hiding it– it was one of the most awaited gigs of the fest. It ran...surprisingly. No flirting with the audience - aside from a little self-advertising (viel spass ..:), no celebrity-like behavior whatsoever. Diorama gig was basing on the contrast and discrepancy: the frame thing was the classic one: musicians looked completely causal and natural and among them there was Torben Wendt, his exquisitely sonorous and harmonious voice and mimicry of madmen isolation ward fugitive: goggled eyes, bare teeth and swollen veins...quite a convincing stylization; far more shocking when accompanied by nice smiles and all the ordinary background I mentioned. It was as if he was putting on (...or taking off?) the mask...highly dismaying gig, balancing between extrema and temperance.
Musically – we listened to quite a number of new tracks, e.g. brand new one „belle?”, songs of the new album “A Different Life”, “Erase Me”, “Synthesize Me” and „Kein Mord” plus some songs of „Amaroid” like „The Girls” or older ones for instance „Advance”.
Full setlist:: 01. erase me, 02. synthesize me, 03. the pulse of life, 04. belle?, 05. kein mord, 06. advance, 07. the girls, 08. why
After the edifying show of Diorama there was yet another schedule feint as instead of the concert of Imatem, one of the unquestioned favourites of the Fest appeared on the stage, namely Eisbrecher – the artist whose album „Antikoerper” evoked my genuine enthusiasm so I was curious to see the machine working live. The show met all the expectations we had. Alexx materialized in front of our eyes as an icon of elegance and extravagance, wearing black from his head to toes: sunglasses, black, leather gloves and forage-cap, sipping Jack Daniels with the due nonchalance and making us bedazzled by his beautiful snow white smile. When he started singing he got us off our feet. Extremely deep, strong voice infiltrating straight to the hearing centre in our brains, running without any barriers, filled with energy and at the same time perfectly disciplined, classically trained and operating quite skilfully with all the vocalic tricks: warmth, coldness, lyricism and humour (cause how else can you explain an electro band 'reciting' "Heirate Mich" by Rammstein?:) was really marvellous.
Definitely, the gentlemen did justice to the name of their band ( * Eisbrecher – Ice-breaker:) - their impact was smashing, not only because of the said vocal and the scenic manner of the fron man – as if a stylish devil was seducing the listeners - but also because of harsh, metallic guitars and powerful drums. The band played a.o: „Antikoerper”, „Leider”, „Vergissmeinnicht”, „Ohne dich”, „Mein Blut” - as you can easily imagine the audience reacted highly vividly releasing their enthusiasm and approval.
Imatem, which finally came on the stage, is the side project of Peter Spilles of Project Pitchfork and musically it keeps to the PP stylistics – which means very dynamic and energetic music with emotional tinge. The master of ceremony was obviously Peter himself, who was standing on some sort of platform like a kinda leader. He also invited some artist who appeared on the stage during the gig: Falk Lenn accompanied Peter in „Seelenbrennen”, La Casa del Cid (Carsten Klatte) in „Manchmal” and Graf – the fontman of Unheilig – in „Hold You”. Every vocalist enriched the spectacle in his own individual way and added a new, specific tone to the music presented: either lazying and sensual, lyrical or energetic and invigorating, so the whole got a highly diversified and artistically rich quality combining threads coming from different materials and entwining themselves, into one, strong fabric. Other songs we listened to were: „Remote Truth”, „Holy TV” and „Ganz Nah„.
Funker Vogt played their classic concert with lots of military stuff, 'covering' make-ups and strong kicks – standard treat for the fans of fast beat and aggressive vocal, promoting the recent release of the band entitled „Navigator”. The gents warmed the audience up and then they gave field to the next mega-star of the Festival - to the project Unheilig.
The fame and admiration for the band is not fading away and it's even getting stronger – at least that was my impression when I was observing the mass madness, screams, all the dancing, scanning and crazy antics produced by the audience. It was the traditional gig of Unheilig – on Graf, Licky and Henning entering the stage the level of noise increased noticeably and the musicians did all their best to keep or even to turn the heat on! Graf still uses his incredible energy and the concert he played was the one many of us will feel for long in the muscles (and in our ears :). He himself rocked the stage like some kind of modern Elvis, establishing contact with the people, dancing and presenting 'theatrical' mimicry of 'unholy' which was appealing indeed. They played a.o: „Machine”, „Schutzengel”, „Sage Ja” and „Auf Zu Mond”. Of course some of us wonder whether the scene convention will change together with the release of the new album of which we now it's being prepared just now. We're waiting!
ASP do not belong to my personal favs, though as I watched the reactions of the audience, I'm quite alone in this :) The music presented by ASP – a bit folk, rock combined with deep bass, violins and astute, energetic vocal of the front man – built an atmosphere equally with the frontman's expressive eye-make up :)
The evening at the Main Stage was ended by Front 242, whom Honey of welle:erdball, playing a compère this year, introduced as 'dinosaurs' of the scene (by the way, I wonder whether the artists are already fed up with this agnomen – every time they play, someone calls them 'dinosaurs', it's almost epitheton ornans already :)
This time I won't be complaining – being more or less reposed I was able to value the energy band vitality emanating from the scene with such songs as „Body to Body”, „Headhunter”,"Religion", "Welcome to Paradise","Happiness" or „Funkadafi”. It was the gig deprived of claptrap and scoping attention from the very moment. One may also value the technical mastery of Front and their charisma– absolutely inimitable.
So that's that as far as the main „War Theatre” on Saturday is concerned. What was happening at the small stage was called 'Industrial Special' and as the name suggests it was noisy irregularly and ravishingly well there. And crowded, but that seems to be rule with such events:)
As the first Xotox came to action, but the crowd was so maddening that I managed to get in quite late. Xotox was founded in 1998 by Andreas Davids. By means of such albums as "Lichtlos", "Die unruhe" or newer [PSI], the project marked the standards of industrial very much murderous in its style.
As I said – I got in late to see the lasers cutting the air filled with huge amounts of smoke, wild crowd and three people on the stage – smiling (so as I presume the gig was properly loud and destructive). The music of Xotox is highly caustic substance leaving its stamp on one's brain once and forever, constituting an expressive mixture of dancy and noisy elements setting human labyrinth into the state of permanent anxiety. We could hear e.g.„lichtlos”, „mechanische unruhe„ „industrial madness„ or the flag track: „eisenkiller” plus some new songs of the upcoming album: „ winterblut”, ”in den zehn morgen” and „verlust„. It was a really ingenious gig basing both on unique music and the theatre of lights and smoke strengthening the effect of disquieting sounds.
Just after Xotox had finished it was time for Trial to play. Overdriven vocal imitating the sounds of goblins a bit, one pulsating rhythm in the background and highly dynamic, dancy music combined with classic and trance elements, dim light and smoke stood for the advantages of the show.
Christian Pallentin, aka P.A.L, is an artist playing in an extra class of industrial music, providing a ravishing dose of vibrating, unexpectedly hitting sounds of spicy taste, leaded with energy in the way that always seems spectacular to me.
Just the very appearance of the master holding sticks and showing his concentrated face made some of us smile. The concerts of P.A.L are frugal in their visual aspect – there are some dim lights and sometimes visualizations - but the power arising from the sounds is smashing. The songs presented were: ”Gelöbnis”, „Agitation”, „Metrum”, „Jobs”, „k-schwarz„ „T.A.E” and „Final Solution” to mention just a few.
The continuation of crazy dancing was secured by the gents of SONAR, namely by Dirk Ivens and Eric van Wonterghem. These two are definitely known to any of you, even if not from Sonar then from many other projects they create music in: e.g. Dirk in Dive, The Klinik, Absolute Body Control, while Eric in Monolith, Insekt, and Absolute Body Control too. Such a curriculum vitae makes impression while the child of them both - Sonar - is kicking, screaming, vital and impolite monster that moves uncontrollably and unpredictably.
As we could expect we were given a great show of rhythm-industrial by means of the pieces: ”hostage”, „consume”, „leave me be” , „bad man”, „alien overdrive” , „tehoma”, and for encore: “one mile away”. The organization of the scene made me think of two musicians' dialogue, or some sort of “DJs battle” - the equipment was set to oppose one another and the artists, wreathed in smoke and covered in dim strobe lights fought to get the most devastating effect.
In my opinion, they succeeded in 100%, the speeded heartbeat, pogo that burst in the centre of the hall and exquisite sound effect evoked by irregular structures leashed only by overpowering beat proved that.
Spetsnaz, who gave us a scare some time ago by informing of the band splitting up, are doing fine and kicking as usual – very hard. Aggressive, highly invigorating music gave the audience quite an amount of disco that unquestionably proved that Pontus Stålberg and Stefan Nilsson are not going to give the victor's palm of electro-industrial that easily. Of course Pontus was traditionally complaining that “he's too old for this shit”, just like last year at M'era Luna he said he was sorry for being fat, but that's nothing more than a coquetry as the gents are presenting their top form anyway.
Harsh, melodious, catchy pieces such as „Apathy”, „Grand Design” and „On the Edge” are so well-known and so perfectly put together that their ravishing quality keeps moving the listeners, while Pontus's charisma adds to the stimulating note of the whole show. Great gig!
After those dynamic scenic riots two machineries were set parallel to each other on the stage: a sign that a duo of Winterkälte was on the way. Their set featured an eminently rhythmic industrial leaving impression of sounds that escaped the tutelage, running like speeding, vivacious sound furies. Loaded with energy, tricky, catchy matter, ostensibly fast, electronic and changeable constituted a compilation that was toxic and yet enthralling.
The lights used during the concert were dim, the rays were sliding on the musicians' faces creating an atmosphere of some sort of ritual where two priests were falling into trance. The Gods of Industrial to whom the concert was a praise were definitely satisfied :)
The final of Industrial Night belonged to Feindflug, who traditionally presented the military image, brutal visualizations and such an amount of dancy sounds to satisfy any party animal. While it's true they kick, if one counted on establish the contact with the audience, the vividness of the gig or a fair dose of action on the stage got utterly disappointed as the show was rather static. Still, the music spoke for itself: harsh, hard-hitting, fraught with samples, aggression and catchy parts.
Scenically – as I have already mentioned – there were guys styled to various kinds of soldiers, net, electric chair and the songs matching all this paraphernalia: „Leitbilt”, „Bluthandwerk”, „Stukas im Visier”, „Roter Schnee”, "Kalte Unschuld" and „Truppenshau”. Military stylistic plus destructive pieces – there were many wounded left on the battlefield!
After the concerts there was an after party in the Theatre which we truly enjoyed!
Sunday line-up was also separated into two parts, however, on this day the Theatre was ruled by gothic bands, so the whole worked under name „Gothic Special” and here's where I start my report this time.
The day in the Theatre was opened by the French project Katzenjammer Kabarett, which enchanted the gathered by most beautiful music, charming light and the image of avant-garde cabaret of somewhat roguish character. Founded in 2000, the band take their inspiration from deathrock, electronic and cabaret songs. Their gig made me think of Ataraxia; it was a dialogue between the vocalist and the audience. She herself was wearing a bowler hat, expressive make-up and was like an incarnation of a bit boyish, subtle charm and at the same time of an appealing, emphatic voice.
By establishing contact with the audience she enchanted the listeners almost effortlessly and the concert should be seen as successful. The band haven't released any albums yet, as they claim they are not ready yet, but it is to happen soon. We're looking forward to it!
Next, one of the most spectacular concerts of the Festival took place, somewhat orgy of sound, colour and image – namely the show of Emile Autumn. It's a band who got the knowledge on how important the performance aspect of the show is and at the same time the balance that lets the elements of image and sound coexist at the stage and not to overwhelm each other.
Astute, sonorous, neurotic vocal that at times changed into recitation and at times into a noisy scream put together with highly developed scenic part (sophisticated costumes imitating those of porcelain dolls, mannequins or geisha, expressive make-up and wigs) gave bedazzling effect. The whole concert placed in the scenery built by means of dim lights made me feels as if I was transferred into the world of “Brave Lead Soldier” or “ Snow White” fairytale, with delicate figures set on the stage. However, the impression was rather misleading, as the lyrics suggested quite a different, real world: for example in „I want my Innocence Back” one of the artists was strolling around the stage with a head of a doll in her hands. There were also plenty of props on the stage: stars, moons, rag-dolls...and teddy bears which had been thrown by the fans onto the stage. The female musicians, looking like modern marchionesses, won the audience almost effortlessly by creating an atmosphere as if of a fairytale, Renaissance court (also by the use of clavichord sounds or the played scene of drinking tea of porcelain cups), the elves of nymphs garden... and also a bit as if of “Amadeus” of Milos Forman. It was a very rich concert, both scenically and musically; a jewel in the crown of the Fest!
Fetisch:Mensch – the project of Oswald Henke, traditionally served the fantastic guitar feast seasoned with emotional vocal part, and then gave way to young artist of Down Below.
While watching young bands there is always a choice: to neglect the youngsters or to listen carefully in order to witness the birth of a star... by all means in case of Down Below we talk about the latter situation cause although it's visible (and audible!) that they are at the beginning of their artistic way and that the time had not carved their scenic manner yet, they have huge potential which may take them up to stars.
Neo Scope – the vocalist – has every chance to rock the audience the way the other giants like Graf or Alexx do: for he's got all the predispositions to achieve that: the voice which is emotional and rich in power sufficient enough to give him way to success, charisma, scenic intuition, the ability to enchant the audience which is helpful in building the atmosphere of the gig, and last but not least : the looks :) The music of DB is sonorous, catchy and melodious whereas the vocal adds to its depth and power. Definitely, these guys are on the right track!
During the concert we could hear „Sinfony”, „Private Soul Security” of the new single, „From the Highest Point”, „Down Below” or „Run Away” and „Angel”
The success of Zeromancer exceeded all expectations – the audience run mad with every song presented by the Norwegians. They started with the strong kick and the energy was arising during the whole gig. The vocalist had a wonderful contact the the audience, he even noticed ( and paid attention to) the aggressive fans by the stage! Generally speaking he gave a thrilling performance! It was a very sexy gig featuring stylishly changing lights that emphasizes either lyrical or energetic atmosphere, vast amounts of smoke and the front man who seemed delighted with the reception they received from the fans. they played e.g: „Clone your Lover”, „Chrome Bitch”, „Stop the Noise”, „Doppel”, „Cuppola”, „Dr Online” and „Your Imaginary”. The charisma and power of Alex Møklebust plus exceptionally dancy tracks and beautiful light spectacle made the gig really fantastic. The applause was deafening! One thing's sure – the torso (and hips!) of the front man are what the audience (or at least its part) will bear in mind for long :)
The final of Gothic Night in the Theatre was the long-awaited concert of Dreadful Shadows, who had united to play several gigs, including the one in Cologne at Amphi Festival. I can't give any elaborate comment upon the band, as I'm not really fond of it; one thing I may say is that the artists played covered in dim lights, so the atmosphere was highly mysterious. Still, the power arising from the stage was incredible! The band presented : „New Day”, „Drowning Sun”, „Dusk”, „Chains” and „Craving”, „True Faith”, „Sea of Tears” to mention just a few song. The male vocal intertwined with the female one plus extremely smashing guitars created quite an elevated atmosphere. The fans seemed to be delighted.
And so the gothic evening came to an end.
As to the main stage the day was opened by Portion Control who let themselves be remembered by means of the white Lonsdale T-shirt worn on the stage by the frontman.
Next, Saltatio Mortis played their gig – the band presenting a mixture of folk, metal, rock and bringing to mind such bands as Faun and Letzte Instanz.
There's nothing like army! When the electro-knights of Heimataerde wearing all their fancy outfit installed themselves on the stage the audience gave them warm welcome. The show was enfolding slowly, they started with „Deus Lo Vult”, the team was setting their stuff on the stage and Ash was improving the condition of their „uniforms”, and then everything ran smoothly with all the wine drinking, fights feigning (which were pacified by Ashlar all at once :) plus a fair dose of good electro beats. We were served „Endlos”, „Moerder”, „Gib mir”, „Eins sein”, „Lebloser Koerper” and „Morituri Salutant”, so the gig featured the material of both „Kadavergehorsam” and „Gotteskrieger”.
I'd been waiting for the band following the knights on the stage very impatiently, because their album „Bloodangel's Revenge” seemed to me very important and influential one.
Krypteria was formed in 2004; their leading star is a highly talented and beautiful vocalist Ji-In whereas the musicians Chris, Frank and Kuschi support her with the strong impact of guitars and drums providing us with extremely hard-hitting, emotional music. It was a spectacular concert indeed: by combining the elements of gothic, rock and metal the artists managed to create a set giving us thrills and shivers.
Ji-In appeared on the stage wearing red leather corset and black leather trousers and she won the audience by her exceptionally beautiful, strong, acute voice, her joy and charm, her wildness and energy. I was completely swept over by the waves of sound coming from the stage; the voice able to crush glass, metal power mixed with emotionality of gothic and irregularity of electro and fantastic team work of the artists merged with the loads of energy gave a really fine effect!
They started the gig with my favourite song „Sweet Revenge”, which won my heart some time ago, and then then sonic tornado was getting strong with every subsequent piece: „Time to bring the pain” , „Get the hell out of my way„ “Out of tears „ or „The Promise”. They ended the concert with „I Can't Breathe” - very much apropos the listeners condition, indeed:)
What also struck me during the gig was the marvellous vitality, pure joy resulting from creating and the contact with the audience plus the perfect harmony between the musicians that enabled Krypteria to form a mechanism that takes the fans by storm. They definitely stood for a fantastic power whom I surrendered with no hesitation!
Mesh – a treat for the fans. The vocalist wearing woollen cap, lots of emotional, melodious pieces and the euphoria of the listeners; those who stood by the stage definitely enjoyed it, I was wandering somewhere else to show up during the gig of my favs: Samsas Traum.
The band, whose line-up recently expanded onto the new drummer, Adrian Erlandsson, is doing fine and is kicking as usual with their avant-garde music and incredible energy. Alexander Kaschte was traditionally conversing with the audience don't know what the topic was though for my German have not improved drastically since last year:) waving his hair (which has grown back a lot:) and generally speaking he organized the scene in a perfect way.
They played a.o: „Ein Foetus wie Du”, „K.haos-Prinz und Wind-Prinzessin” and „Kugel Im Gesicht”; all that was happening on the stage flooded by smoke and sunlight blending one another which altogether gave a fantastic visual effect. The guitar sound provided by Michael Puchala, the keys by Martin Guttman, and saxophone of Daniel Schröder: all that constituted a quality characteristic for Samsas Traum: changeable rhythm, unexpected sharp turns (both vocalic and textual), harsh and yet powerful vocal which changed note into lyrical one moment to feint into the fickle one the very next plus overwhelming metal tint overshadowing the gothic and classic elements – all that stood for a bit theatrical, or operetta atmosphere the band oscillates in.
Frontline Assembly, that is yet another legend playing live. One could say that this year at Amphi all the 'Front' fans were satisfied – both bands played gigs. FLA, who recently released the new album entitled „Fallout” presented the new material as well as the old songs of „Artificial Soldier”. Bill Leeb rocked the stage absolutely establishing contact with the audience. However, when watching their gig (Amphi and M'eraLuna 06' ones) I must confess that while going to their show one shouldn't expect any scenic antics as their concerts are strictly music-oriented. The vocalist is hidden behind sunglasses, presenting stone face (does this fashion come with age?). The daylight didn't help the gig in any way. What wanders all over the stage is the smoke...But the music is really great: appropriately energetic and catchy. What is true Chris Peterson and Jeremy Inkel tried to warm the audience up and the music effect worked well, but still it wasn't a highly developed show. Not that there are any demands in this respect, but a bit of what is called 'performance' would be of use here otherwise such a frugal show might become monotonous. the band presented e.g."Vigilante', "Plasticity, "Unleashed" and "Mindphaser".
The whole Festival ended with the concert of Apoptygma Berzerk who played nothing but their hits – just like the superstars are supposed to, enriching the show by text such as „what else do you want to hear, be quick, we're in a hurry”. So we could hear „Starsign”, „Deep Red”, „In This Together” , „Eclipse”, „Shine On”, „Until the End of The World”, „Nonstop Violence”, „ Love Never Dies” and „Mourn” (with Mesh) – the gig was accompanied by bedazzling play of strobe lights, smoke and crazy dances of Stephan Groth. The second fav of the audience – Angel Stengel – controlled the left side of the scene whereas the right one was in charge of Geir Bratland. The enthusiasm of the audience beat the record: the people were singing with the band, dancing and the sea of hands could be seen far in the distance. Apparently, the force of APB is not weakening and their star still shines brightly.
To sum the festival life up I may say that despite the schedule changes everything ran smoothly: the weather was fine, the water was served with no limits, nobody got wounded and the music was fantastic. Rarely does such an condensation of brilliant sounds where you don't know which band to choose as everything seems to lure you equally occur at the festivals. During Amphi Festival 07' we were given an unexpected richness: the organizers spoilt us by means of the line-up!
We had wonderful time and the meeting with the new projects were properly enriching: both musically and spiritually. When the last concert had finished we were standing aside, watching the enchanted people leaving the place, the lights shimmering in the water of the fountain and delicately lighting the „upside-down umbrellas” and one though came to our minds; that it was a magnificent event! We're waiting for the counterstrike in 2008!