19th June 2021
Diary of Dreams - Open Air 2021
After DIARY OF DREAMS had already played two full open air shows at the Parkbühne Leipzig last year in accordance with Corona-regulations, they returned to the Clara-Zetkin-Park in 2021 to play another sold-out concert. In addition to their current album ‘hell in Eden’, the men around front man Adrian Hates also brought a pot full of songs from over 25 years of band history. It has now been around 500 concerts in almost 40 countries since the first note from the “Diary of Dreams” sounded, and there is no end in sight. Everyone who knows this band knows about their achievements, created by none other than Adrian Hates - founder, singer and centre 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 his creative handling of it. DIARY OF DREAMS currently is Adrian Hates, Dejan Nikolic, Hilger Tintel and Felix Wunderer.
Organisation according to the Corona hygiene concept
To enter the park stage, proof of a negative PoC antigen rapid test, a complete vaccination or recovery was necessary. To store the contact details, it was possible to log in via the Pass-4-All app or the Corona warning app, alternatively a slip of paper could be filled out by hand. The check-in at the entrance went smoothly, advice was given in the queue so that there were no more delays at the entrance due to questions or missing documents. A mask in accordance with current requirements had to be worn away from your own seat. The event was seated, there was free choice of seats, people were allowed to stand, sing and dance at their seat.
Music & Performance
Eight months, eight long months without a concert, without live music, without familiar, cherished faces, without singing, dancing, cheering. A long, cold winter is behind us all, and many have lost a lot during this time, or lost everything, had to sacrifice, give up, were put on the back burner, forgotten, classified as not systemically relevant. An entire industry was side-lined in this way. The question was always: who is still there when life goes on more or less normally? DIARY OF DREAMS are still there, luckily they are, because life without them - unimaginable for many, including me.
And suddenly, Corona is no longer your worst enemy…
It sounds trite to say about people that you love them for their quirks and flaws, but in the end, that’s exactly what it is, and from my point of view that is exactly what happened at this concert. What kind of an imperfect, perfect evening was that? DIARY shows are of high quality, just like everything that team Hates has been doing for over 25 years, and even if the number of concerts I’ve attended since the end of October 2019 is still in the single-digit range, I cannot remind me of any flops, failures or mishaps. I was more likely to read about it, about cut cables or cancelled performances due to a storm warning. Problems with the own voice were never an issue for Adrian Hates up to this weekend, but probably no singer can get around them - at some point everyone gets caught.
This concert is already my favourite of all I’ve attended so far, because in general I really like the way humanity and solidarity show up, especially in difficult situations. If everything runs smoothly, the equipment works, the weather is right, the fans are in a good mood and, above all, the musicians on stage are in top shape, you can leave the stage satisfied and be sure that no-one will say or write a bad word about it. There is nothing to brood about, the ego has not gotten a crack, your self-confidence does not suffer, you go to the next stage with joyful confidence. But then the day comes when your voice no longer plays along for the first time, and it’s not just a scratchy throat that you somehow can trick for a few hours, it’s violent, it’s permanent, everyone can hear it, it is actually impossible to sing in such a condition for two hours, because either you will completely lose your voice during the course of the concert, or the sounds that leave the mouth have a life of their own and could become torture for the audience.
So what to do when the venue is sold out with several hundreds of people down there on the seats, who for the last eight months wanted nothing more than to finally see their heroes back on stage again, to sing along, dance, clap, cheer; people who have come from far away, e.g. from France? All these familiar and unknown faces, who have been standing in the heat for hours, maybe also wondering whether they can get through the evening well (there were up to 35 degrees in the shade). Do you surprise them with a cancellation? I can hardly imagine that Adrian had this thought for a long time, I think it was clear to him - I’ll go through this, I play with open cards, I hope for understanding, it will work, somehow, we are pushing each other through, I can’t let anyone down here...
This review is about everything, but not about perfection, not about precisely hit notes, not about a professionally rocked concert, but about humanity, vulnerability, absolute will, fighting spirit, solidarity between stage and audience, support, and certainty that there is so much mutual respect, that no one claims for the usual quality in such a situation and leaves the house if they don’t get it. This concert was perfect in its own way, and to apply a yardstick to anything here that comes from previous concerts is difficult, even impossible for me. This concert is out of line, because it was not only physically challenging at these temperatures, but above all mentally. He asked himself, and we asked ourselves: How long do you hold out like this? At first glance, everything looked the same: he told stories, he laughed, made jokes, sprinted across the stage, interacted with his men, sought contact with the photographers, the audience, sometimes in the distance, sometimes directly in the front rows, he cheered, asked, as usual his hair was blowing in the wind of the ventilators, and the spring sun had conjured a light brown tone on his skin. The Corona winter darkness was definitely behind him, and as you can already read from all the posts and comments on the social media channels of DIARY OF DREAMS in the days before the concert, the band was dying to finally let the dogs out again.
It was about a minute before 8:00 p.m. when the first notes of the opener ‘Made in Shame’ interrupted the chatter in the Parkbühne, and the audience immediately shifted its focus straight forward and responded with applause and cheers. The band members stepped onto the stage one by one to start straight away with the first song. I honestly admit, that I did not realize his voice wasn’t having the best day today. After the cheers and applause had subsided, Adrian revealed himself to the audience directly and without frills, and before you could really understand what was at stake tonight, it went straight to the all-time hit ‘Epicon’, which was celebrated frenetically as always, up on the stage as well as from the audience. This song simply is a bomb that should definitely be dropped in the beginning part of a concert for the best possible effect, because it frees even the last one from initial shyness when it comes to dancing and cheering.
What strikes me again and again at DIARY concerts is this broad mix of different people who come together at concerts in their mutual love for the band and their music, and even small kids are already dancing right next to their parents. There are no age limits. I really like how diversity is united under the colour black. There are aggressive dancers who give everything for two hours, and then there are also the very calm ones who just stand there, suck in and let the euphoria take place deep inside. I don’t remember exactly after which song he asked “Can you hear it already?”, but it was definitely still very early in the evening. You only can guess how this thought piled up in his head, so high, that several times he apologized for his stricken voice, and he even asked not to film the slower songs, as this is where his voice problems come obviously into play. That wish was absolutely understandable, because nobody wants to find their trickiest day on stage on all internet channels.
At first it was a bit of a shock, because now we finally had kicked a big part of Corona’s ass, the scorching heat subsided a little as the sun went down, the thunderstorm cell that appeared briefly on the weather radar then changed its mind, and the path seemed completely free for a bombastic evening. Nobody expected some voice issues, Adrian also said that this is something completely new for him. No matter what adversity he has faced at concerts here and at the other end of the world, e.g., when it came to entry documents for appearances in distant countries, his voice was always reliable. Always. And now it is not for the first time, and it is working in his head now that it could possibly happen to him again in the future.
What immediately caught the eye was Hilger’s new e-guitar, a white Telecaster Adrian introduced as “snowflake”. But it wasn’t the only new thing about him: it seemed as if Hilger had used the eight months of forced absence from stage to fine-tune his look a little and to dare to have more beard and greyer on his head. And look at Felix, how far he has come! He now seems so much more self-confident, is in no way inferior to the experienced “older” men, marches steadily across the stage as if he had never done anything else. Dejan masters his role of being the only one unable to move across the stage confidently and with flying colours, powerful and full of energy. He is the thunder and lightning from behind.
The fighting of all rebels and psychos in the world then succeeded with the common singing of ‘kindrom’, a song in which Adrian leaves parts of the chorus to the audience, similar to the ‘Traumtänzer’. That interaction was more important than ever before, and the audience loudly shouted “DOWN, DOWN, DOWN” towards the stage. The pauses between the songs were used to provide short moments of relief to the throat that was probably burning like fire by hand over lots of liquids like beer, wine, or just cold water. In any case, Adrian had not lost his sense of humour, and he commented the things happened on stage accordingly.
I don’t know if there was a point during the concert at which it was clear to him that no one in the audience felt cheated, but that everyone was on his side, no matter how the evening would end, even if the set list had been shortened for a few more songs. When he again apologized for the dilemma, a woman behind me shouted “Just stand there!” That made for a laugh among all those who understood it acoustically. And I thought that if he stopped singing and just stands there and speaks to us, that would be enough for me. We are here, you guys are here on stage, after all these months apart that was the only thing that mattered. Still, of all those present, he was, of course, under the most pressure.
The show continued with ‘listen and scream’ from the current album ’Hell in Eden’ and the ‘Grau im Licht’ track ‘Sinferno’, both of which are usually part of the stage program. On the other hand, ‘Schuldig!’ came as a rarity. You have to go back a little further in time to find out when it was last played live. With regard to the song selection, a few days earlier to the concert it was announced on Facebook, that the show will come up with surprises, which means songs that have not been part of the setlist for a long time, and ‘Echo in me’ out of ‘Ego: X’ times can also be sorted there.
The powerful ‘Malum’ acted as a buffer between the two newly brought to life titles, and my brain was blocked for a moment, because I heard the opening notes and did not recognize the song immediately. What have eight months of concert abstinence done to me? I felt like I was not the only one suffering from a short memory loss. The loud “Keiner, keener” part was then taken over by the audience again before the first gentle notes of the evening sounded with ‘Hell in Eden’. The enormous effort to keep his voice under control could now be heard very clearly, but he handled this song, too. There wasn’t much time to indulge and dream, because the ‘Daemon’ was preparing to perform his devilish dance. How I love this song, it’s like a big cat that slowly sneaks up on you, grabs you and doesn’t let you go anymore.
The people of Leipzig in particular should have been delighted when Adrian once again announced how at home he feels in Leipzig and that 50% of his heart beats here. Yes, you can understand that even as a non-Leipzig citizen, because this city is definitely worth to fall in love with. To not let go the energy of ‘Daemon’ still smouldering in the room, another driving beat was unleashed with ‘Soul Stripper’, before it got quieter again with ‘Ikarus’. I don’t know how the others were doing, but I really didn’t care whether the voice worked perfectly as usual or not, I just liked every song and was just happy to finally have my favourite band back on stage right in front of me under almost normal conditions. Of course, we would all have gladly spared Adrian the pain and psychological pressure.
The next highlight on the set list was ‘Grau im Licht’ from the 2015 album of the same name; a song that Adrian once said in an interview with Polyprisma has become a very individual piece, very unusual in terms of the overall structure, the behaviour, both in the chorus and in the bridge, which he likes very much. With ‘Sister Sin’ and ‘Decipher me’, the current album ‘Hell in Eden was put in the spotlight again, and with ‘Undividable’ it was clear that the main part of the concert will come to an end. This song has an absolutely positive mood, loosens up after all the emotions that fell upon during the concert, once again ties the bond between the band and fans, making them undividable, the black pack, the dreamers.
Of course, the audience had no interest in leaving the venue without an encore, but it was more than obvious that the extreme heat also had an effect on the audience’s energy. Loud encore calls could not be heard, but everyone who still had strength, clapped and whistled the band back on stage. I was expecting one last song, which would have been completely understandable, but DIARY OF DREAMS gave us a three-pack consisting of my beloved ‘Butterfly: Dance!’, ‘The Curse ‘and ‘Traumtänzer’. The ‘Traumtänzer’ somehow always asks the question whether it should be played or whether it deserves a break. This time there was a survey on Facebook in advance on the Diary page, and the decision was clearly made by PRO ‘Traumtänzer’, but with the little hint that soon this song will be put aside for a while together with a few other songs, which has to do with the new album that is still in the process of completion, and which will be released and presented live on stage early in 2022, hopefully.
And there it was, the last song of the evening, and suddenly Adrian was kneeling, he was kneeling and holding on to his microphone stand, which was certainly due to exhaustion, but nevertheless left an incredibly emotional impression. You wanted to run over and take him in your arms and also tell him, it’s good, everything is good, enough for today, you gave everything and a lot more, we are happy, we got what we wanted, that and so much more. We’ll sing this song with you and for you now, and then you get off the stage and take a rest. ‘She and her darkness’, which was intended as the final song, was omitted, which was absolutely understandable. Dear Adrian, from the bottom of my heart I hope that your extraordinary voice will recover, that you will recover. Get well soon!
After the last song faded away, Dejan, Felix and Hilger came up to Adrian to the front edge of the stage, thanked the crowd with a broad grin, waving and visibly relieved that all songs except ‘She and her darkness’ could be presented, and as the year before here at the Parkbühne, Adrian let us fans know that it was us who have carried him through this crisis so far. While his three band mates went backstage, Adrian remained on stage, because he still had something very important to say. I still remember the first time I communicated with the DIARY account on Instagram at the end of 2018 to came out as a new fan, I was welcomed with “welcome to the family’. Family. It can be so colourful and diverse and is not limited to the same blood that runs through your veins. In a family, hearts beat in the same rhythm, and if one heart stops, a void arises that no one will ever fill again.
Losing someone who has celebrated in the first row for many years, who was known beyond a “hello”, made Adrian and his team very upset, and for a moment he completely lost his voice when he expressed his condolences to the daughter of the deceased, who was there that evening at the Parkbühne. I hope in heaven they play DIARY OF DREAMS every day, dear Gabi. Rest in peace.
01. Made in Shame
04. listen and scream
08. Echo in me
09. hell in Eden
11. Soul Stripper
13. Grau im Licht
14. Sister Sin
15. Decipher me
18. The Curse
20. She and her darkness (cancelled)
Total: 40 / 40
All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)