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comaalliance14UT Connewitz, Leipzig, Germany
19th November 2019
Coma Alliance

A little less than a year ago COMA ALLIANCE released their debut album ‘Weapon of Choice’ - a perfect sensation for fans of DIARY OF DREAMS and DIORAMA as this is nothing less than a joined venture by Adrian Hates and Torben Wendt. After all those years of musical cooperation and friendship they managed to release a piece of art that is neither DIARY OF DREAMS nor DIORAMA, but instead a unique and ingenious journey through Dark Wave, Trip Hop and Minimal Electro, rich with fascinating facets, sometimes epic, sometimes minimalistic, and the amazing energy of both characteristic voices joined together.

Their debut was duly celebrated during a seven gig tour in January this year. And while some more festival gigs were confirmed (as well as many gigs abroad), there was just one more chance to see a fulltime show by COMA ALLIANCE in Germany this year. https://www.comaalliance.com / https://www.facebook.com/comaalliance

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Music & Performance
As the COMA ALLIANCE shows in January were one of my absolute highlights this year, there was just no way that I would miss that opportunity. Obviously, many people were feeling like this. During the evening the venue was sold out, and the venue wasn’t exactly small… The show was hosted in the beautiful UT Connewitz which is one of the oldest cinemas in Germany with their first screening having taken place in 1912. And it offered and amazing scenery: A large hall of ancient feeling beauty with high arches and pillars at the back of the stage. So there we stood, marvelling at our surroundings with rising excitement. And when the first notes of ‘Unusual’ were heard, the excitement exploded into loud cheering. ‘Unusual‘, which is the intro of the album as well as of the shows, built up slowly with an increasing tension as Zura Nakamura entered the stage and added some fascinating sounds with his unique spring board. He was followed by Adrian Hates on guitar and Torben Wendt at the keys.

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The crowd seemed to explode when the built up wall of sounds finally led over to ‘Royd’, the first single of ‘Weapon of Choice‘. Afterwards, Torben thanked the crowd for being so enthusiastic already at the beginning, adding that one could only wish to play such a show at one’s hometown “like Roydlingen” (a play on words on the song title and his home town Reutlingen). While those two songs followed by ‘Decipher Me’ were the classic entrance, soon it became clear that the setlist had been changed a lot. Torben announced that some people had already been at the tour in January (indeed there were many familiar faces in the audience) and that therefore they would play some songs that they did not play before. This was followed by ‘Why’, a song very well-known from DIORAMA shows as it became a hymn with the fans singing along the catchy synthesizer line. But what I really liked about this is that COMA ALLIANCE offered a very different version of ‘Why’, less clubby, instead with much more focus on amazing details.

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Both singers kept switching between keyboard and front of stage. A new freedom of movement was introduced by the keytar for Torben that he used for the first time at Autumn Moon the evening before and allowed him to play keyboards while still moving to the front of the stage. Meanwhile, Adrian was happily showing around his wireless microphone (at Autumn Moon there had been sound problems which made it necessary to switch to a microphone with cable and Adrian joked a lot about how much he hates cables…). The whole band was in excellent mood, interacting a lot with each other as well as with the audience, often joking and laughing between the songs. Indeed, the interactions is one of the reasons why COMA ALLIANCE show are so special. There is just so much happening on stage. All three musicians have a very different style of moving on stage, yet when they interact with each other, they all seem be on the same page. All those gestures, full with appreciation and humour, make it very obvious just how much they enjoy playing together.

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And they are always establishing direct contact with the audience, forming a strong bond. The whole ambience was amazing. The crowd cheered a lot and yet was perfectly silent when necessary, for example during the acoustic version of DIARY OF DREAMS’ Amok. Adrian introduced it as the first acoustic song they played together and I was happily reminded of one of my first DIARY OF DREAMS shows in 2005 where they played this version. Goosebumps! Then there was one of my absolute highlights. In January two COMA ALLIANCE songs were not included in the setlist, one of them being one of my favourites of the album with the title ‘finsta’ (a play on words mixing Instagram with the German word “finster” (dark or grim)). The whole crowd cheered when the first notes started. Obviously many fans had been waiting for that song. And they were listening eagerly, not making the slightest noise during the song, while afterwards the cheering just did not seem to stop at all. What an awesome live premiere!

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With all that good mood and this very intense performance, time passed quickly. Soon, there was ‘Butterfly:Dance!’ with Adrian telling us about the first time that he and Torben performed this song together - 20 years ago in South Africa. To those who have seen other COMA ALLIANCE shows before, this story felt as familiar as the exaggerated rainbow gesture both did with a wide grin during the corresponding line. I just love those small ‘running gags’ which formed over the course of all these shows. To those that have seen former shows, it brings a homely feeling of familiarity. Finally, ‘CA2’ finished the main set as it did at the former shows. So while the audience was cheering loudly, applauding the more than impressive set, the band went ‘backstage’. Yet, backstage in this case was more like ‘upstage’ as they had to walk up a steep staircase to the gallery of the old cinema. This had the interesting effect that they were still inside the same room and the crowd turned around to look up to them at the back of the room. Adrian soon encouraged the crowd some more and the audience cheered as loud as they could. They definitely had to come back!

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Adrian told us that now there would be another song that they never played before, adding jokingly “No, it’s not ‘Traumtänzer’ ”, and Torben explained that thus this would be the first show that they played the whole album. When Torben asked “Who knows which song is still missing?” soon some voices shouted loudly the correct reply “Trip job!” This was followed by the second encore ‘Button’. Now the band obviously thought again about leaving, but the crowd still did not have enough and cheered so loudly that they finally decided to stay downstairs and play the next encore. As all COMA ALLIANCE songs were played, it was now time for more from their other bands - HLA by DIORAMA and finally ‘Traumtänzer’, the well-known DIARY OF DREAMS hymn. The audience did their job perfectly and sang along loudly to the refrain.

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This was clearly the sign that the show was over. ‘Traumtänzer’ always had been the final of the fulltime shows. But the audience simply did not want to let COMA ALLIANCE go. It was impressive not just how loud they cheered, but also with how much perseverance. The band was clearly impressed and moved as well. And so we became witness of something very rare: An unplanned encore. Adrian told us that the official part really was over. And yet they played another piano only version, this time of the magical ‘She And Her Darkness’ by DIARY OF DREAMS. Afterwards Adrian told us that now he really needed to finish as his voice would not work anymore. The band bowed a lot, thanked again and again, while the crowd kept on cheering. All seemed very blissful. While the band hugged each other Zura was heaved into the air twice, once by Adrian and once by Torben who even started spinning him around.

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And in the end, when Torben stood in the middle, his arms on the shoulders of the others, he simply lifted his feet of the ground, resting his weight on their shoulders. Adrian and Zura did not hesitate long, but put their arms under his legs and carried Torben off stage. What an end for a perfect evening!

Setlist
01. Unusual
02. Royd
03. Decipher Me
04. Why
05. Sepia
06. Amok
07. Starfruit
09. Trembler
10. Finsta
11. Dark Embrace
12. Kein Mord
13. Dark Vibes
14. Coma Supreme
15. Butterfly:Dance!
16. CA2
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17. Trip Job
18. Buttons
19. Her Liquid Arms
20. Traumtänzer
21. She And Her Darkness

Rating
Music: 10
Performance: 10
Light: 10
Sound: 10
Total: 10 / 10

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All Pictures by Melanie C and Elisabeth Frayssinet
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