12th September 2020
Diary of Dreams - Open Air 2020
Melancholy on its constant search for harmony - Introducing a band like DIARY OF DREAMS to write a live review seems to me to be rather unnecessary after more than 25 successful years in the music business and the associated excellent reputation in the dark scene; everyone who knows this band knows about their achievements, created by none other than Adrian Hates - founder, singer and mastermind of the band, calling himself a creative pessimist.
We owe this epic, dark, graceful, dramatic, fragile and extremely detailed music to his dark side and the way he deals with it. The classic roots from which Hates springs are unmistakable, and so it is not surprising that his songs are also acoustically enjoyable, which even led to his long-cherished dream of being able to go on tour with an orchestra one day. In 2019, he became part of the “Refugium Klassik Tour” of JOACHIM WITT, and the two were accompanied by the musicians of the Leipzig Philharmonic Orchestra. Current band members of DIARY OF DREAMS are Adrian Hates, Dejan Nikolic, Hilger Tintel and Felix Wunderer. The new album, announced in January at one of the last concerts before the Corona outbreak for the end of 2020, is eagerly awaited by fans all over the world.
Music & Performance
“It is not our government that supports us; it is you, especially with your purchases in our shop. This evening is yours”, was the final closing words by Adrian Hates, founder and front man of the band DIARY OF DREAMS, that performed today at the Parkbühne in Leipzig. These words clearly spoken from the bottom of his heart, released the audience into the night after two hours of bliss. But since this statement describes exactly what the event industry has to endure for months due to the corona pandemic, I can’t help but start my concert review with his words. Every event that will take place for the rest of this year and most likely also in 2021 is affected by the dark shadow of the so-called Corona crisis which has been going on since March this year. Nothing is safe anymore; everything can tip over at any time and be cancelled or postponed again.
But let’s go back to the beginning. Leipzig, September 12, 2020: another day with perfect, late summer weather. Our two and a half hour journey from Thuringia went smoothly and we started the day with a stop at Lake Cospuden to catch a touch of vacation and to get in mood for the upcoming evening with DIARY OF DREAMS. The additional show already took place one evening before at the same location at the Parkbühne, thanks to the fact that the first announced show on September 12, 2020 was completely sold out within a few days. On September 11, the first postponement of the concert in Görlitz should take place, but this date had to be postponed again and is now announced for March 2021. So it’s no wonder that the tickets for Leipzig went over the counter like hotcakes! I don’t want to write much about Corona and its consequences, we all know it too well, but I do not want to focus on this crank of a virus, but on wonderful music that was finally allowed to sound live again after many months of silence.
The enormous police presence including circling helicopters in Leipzig was certainly a bit strange, the heated atmosphere in the country with demonstrations that are springing up like mushrooms brings that with it, but we ignored it and did not let allow it to ruin our anticipation for the concert. Good food and good wine at the Viet Village restaurant not far from the Parkbühne did the rest, and we couldn’t wait any longer for the show to begin! A short walk later, we arrived at the Parkbühne doors at 7 p.m., and while some showed their green glowing smartphone display to the personal at the entrance, others handed over a filled-in piece of paper, all necessary to comply with the requirements of collecting data of all concert-goers. People, who were less fortunate of getting a ticket for tonight’s show, or who already joined the show the day before, set up camp chairs outside the Parkbühne, or spread out blankets, settled down comfortably to listen to the sound of DIARY OF DREAMS.
Mouth and nose protection was required to enter the Parkbühne, but I was just waiting for that - the beautiful MenschFeind mask was finally put to good use. You were only allowed to be mask-free at your own seat, and when leaving, cover your mouth and nose was mandatory. The event had to be seated in accordance with the current hygiene requirements, and so chairs were placed in groups of four next to each other, and the prescribed safety distance gaped from one group to the next. To get the new MenschFeind patch and to see what else is new at the shop, we went to the merchandising booth filled with well-known and new items. And while I was looking around from that corner of the Parkbühne, I realized that this was not just my first real stay in Leipzig, but also my very first open-air concert. At 7:30 p.m. the rows of seats were well filled, and I recognized some faces from previous concerts - a hard core of fans really keeps loyal to the band, and in times like these that’s more important than ever.
I declined the offer to get the setlist before start of the concert, because I just wanted to be surprised and guess the songs by their first sounds and tones, but to be honest: I failed one time or two. What I was given from the day before was the information that the concert has to start on point at 8 p.m. and end at 10 p.m., since open-air concerts are subject to the peace of night, provided that residential areas are within earshot, and that was the case with tonight’s location. Last adjustments were made by the technicians on stage, and then the time had finally come: the first tones of ‘Made in Shame’ barely cut through the air shortly after 8 p.m. The audience responded directly with euphoric whistling and applause. And then the four sorely missed band members finally took the stage, found their places and crashed straight into full force.
Being a bit unsure at the beginning whether to sit down or get up, the audience then got up, and as far as I could see, almost nobody was sitting at the end of the opening song. After the last notes had faded and the first euphoric welcome applause had subsided, Adrian rose the word as it should be for a front man, and greeted the crowd. He let us know that today we were a few more people than yesterday, which was an allusion to the fact that the additional show on Friday was not a sold-out show like the one today. In order not to waste precious time chatting, it went straight to ‘Epicon’, the song that finally brought me back to DIARY after 10 years and which has a correspondingly high meaning for me. ‘Epicon’ pushed the energy level up to the top, and there came a force from the stage that spread through the audience in waves from front to back. Singing, clapping, making noise, everything was allowed at your seat to show the band how much you have missed them and how happy you were about their presence today.
Unfortunately, I can’t remember when exactly the band leader told us that it still feels unreal for him to finally be on stage again, but I think it was before or after ‘the Wedding’. And yes, we all could sympathize with him, because after months of downtime, appointments being pushed back and forth or total failures, confidence in what we normally do without regulations and restrictions was pretty badly shaken. After the powerful wedding was celebrated with a lot of applause, a dancing animal was released: ‘Butterfly: Dance!’ - a song which the audience clearly liked, and the memorable text lines “I try to see you in my future, I try to find you in my past” should not be missed from any concert. And then there was another driving song, before it should become thoughtful and quiet in a very special way. ‘Listen and scream’ ended the first block of danceable, sweaty songs.
What happened next was impressive: soon after the first sounds of ‘She and her darkness’ had been heard, the entire audience sat down, and I have to say that the chair really was the perfect match in that special moment. This beautiful song developed its magic much more intensely while sitting than standing, but I already knew this feeling from the “Refugium Klassik Tour”, which took me to the Alte Oper in Erfurt last year and provided an unforgettable evening with classical interpretations of songs from JOACHIM WITT and DIARY OF DREAMS. And this is the perfect bridge to tell about the next song ‘Malum’, which is my absolute favourite of the classical tour mentioned above. It’s definitely a join-in song, and several times Adrian's held his microphone towards the audience to let us sing loud “Keiner, keiner!”
Nobody could have guessed that we were getting into the middle of a pandemic; this topic is normally only known from apocalyptic movies. But this is not a movie, it is the real world that is in the stranglehold of a tiny, organic structure, and the message being told from stage was clear: the last few months have been a tough time that nobody wants to deal with again. ‘Malum’ was followed by ‘Soul Stripper’, and then finally the motto of the evening got its own song: the ‘MenschFeind’ was unleashed, and as powerful as ever, this song grabbed every single one of the audience. The lively background on stage was new and particularly striking: no more rigid DIARY OF DREAMS logo, but moving elements and weird creatures, which gave the energetic bustle on stage even more room. When ‘Charma Sleeper’ was then intoned, I didn’t know which song it was at first, and for a moment the thought came that we would be quietly cheered for a new song.
Although it is not one of my all-time favourites, I clearly liked it best tonight in terms of its sound. My friend and colleague Ilka, who saw DIARY live for the first time today, was also very impressed, and the sentence “I like that, that sounds good” I heard more than once in these two hours. Then again the set changed to quieter tones, which came along as ‘Ikarus’ and ‘a dark embrace’, that in turn paved the way for ‘Traumtänzer’, which introduced the last package of songs before the first encore. What would a concert be without this long-running hit! I can’t think of a better song for the singing interplay between Adrian and the audience. And there were certainly more than enough glittering eyes both today and the evening before, and in addition to all the glittering eyes, the stars glittered above our heads, which is always an extra icing on the cake at an open air concert.
The dreamy mood that the ‘Traumtänzer’ left behind, provided the perfect transition to ‘Grau im Licht’, a song from the album of the same name from 2015. I was particularly delighted with the following ‘decipher me’ because it is one of my favourite songs of the current album ‘Hell in Eden’, and it gave me comfort that there was no ‘Endless nights’ today. Afterwards, ‘kindrom’ from the trickiest album of all time, namely by ‘Nigredo’ from 2004, once again highlighted the current state of the nation: no rebel and no psychopath in this world, neither in form of a virus nor an incompetent government, can bring us down! And then, tonight’s first farewell has come, but anyone who has ever been to a DIARY concert, knows that the audience can be very loud and persistent, when it comes to clapping and whistling the beloved band back on stage. It didn’t take very long for the first outlines of human figures to reappear in the vague light of the stage.
The first encore came with ‘the Plague’, a song from the album ‘Nekrolog 43’ from 2007. The spectrum of the songs ranged from the 2000 album ‘One of 18 Angels’ to the current long player ‘Hell in Eden’, which was the dominating album tonight referring to the number of songs, followed closely by ‘Freak Perfume’. The fact that band and fans are an inseparable and indivisible bunch of people, was emphasized by the subsequently sounding ‘Undividable’, the only song today from my favourite album ‘Ego: X’. Unfortunately, due to the current rules of distance, it was not possible for Adrian to walk his obligatory round through the audience while singing ‘the Curse’, the next encore, which usually provides the chance for a short hug or a spontaneous photo, and so he stayed on stage, encouraging the audience to throw their arms up and clap along.
Felix, Dejan and Hilger also gave their best, they were brim-full of energy, and when it comes to Felix, I am very impressed how quick and good this young man was integrated into the band. The calm and melancholic ‘the Colors of Grey’ from the 2009 album ‘(if)’ left no more doubt that this wonderful concert is now coming to an end, but there was one more song to enjoy. ‘The darkest of all hours’ as final song of the night surprised me for a moment, but then I realized that it makes total sense, because the last six months have been dark times for many people, especially for those who work in the event industry, and there is no end in sight. Mutual support and words of encouragement are more important than ever before to lead each single one out of this darkness, because as already mentioned at the beginning of this review, Adrian Hates feels more carried and supported by his fans than by politicians. The concert could not have ended better with these words of deep thanks to the audience. Of course, the two hours passed too quickly, and after words of thanks and a collective bow, the stage darkened and the four of them disappeared into the backstage area happy and relieved, and so was every single one of the audience inside and outside the Parkbühne.
Let me say some final words regarding organization, implementation and control of the prescribed hygiene concept: everything went smoothly and relaxed, everyone adhered to the rules, the employees of the security company were friendly and if the mask slipped a bit too low, you were immediately kindly advised of correct wearing. At the entrance, the data collection worked either via the app “pass4all”or a filled-in piece of paper, and after the subsequent bag and ticket control you were allowed to enter the Parkbühne wearing a mask on your nose and mouth. There was then no longer any obligation to do so at your own seating place.
Of course I can only speak for myself, but I felt free at this event despite various rules, we could dance, sing, clap, whistle, bawl, cheer, doing all what we usually do when being on a concert, just with a little distance - no dictatorship far and wide. However, it was definitely not a usual “let’s just have fun” concert weekend, because this time it was about so much more, above all clearly about showing that you have withstand the crisis so far and up to this point, and that this is what you will do in the future - not give up. We can achieve this by being there for each other, treat us with respect, take the situation seriously and don’t fight each other. Can you imagine a future without DIARY OF DREAMS? I definitely can’t. It’s unthinkable. New music is in production, and the world needs to hear it soon, especially live on stage.
Big thanks to all who made it possible that these two concerts came to life in times of Corona. Thank you so much!
01. Made in Shame
03. the Wedding
05. listen and scream
06. She and her darkness
08. Soul Stripper
10. Charma Sleeper
12. a dark embrace
14. Grau im Licht
15. decipher me
17. the Plague
19. the Curse
20. the Colors of Grey
21. the darkest of all hours
Total: 10 / 10
All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)