15th October 2021
Covenant, Torul & Black Nail Cabaret
The expectations were high at this cold autumn evening in Potsdam. Although the concert was not sold out (I would guess less than half of the location was full, although I do not know if would have even been allowed to fill the hall completely due to Covid-19), and masks had to be worn, people were at first in a good mood. The audience was mostly middle-aged at, at least visually, part of the dark subculture. For sure, many of them had known COVENANT since their first steps in the Gothic culture.
But before COVENANT, two other bands had to play - something which was not announced before and not even printed on the tickets and caused a certain discontent among parts of the public since the supporting acts played for two hours, something at least unusual, even more when we are speaking of clearly subcultural bands like COVENANT.
Black Nail Cabaret
Black Nail Cabaret define themselves as “Pop Noir” and consist of Emese Arvai-Illes (vocals) and Krisztian Arvai (keyboards). They are from Budapest, Hungary and have published several albums. Their singer appeared dressed in a heavy harness and a white shirt, which had a certain bondage aesthetic. She has a beautiful voice and a good stage presence, but the music did not set the audience in fire. The songs were, at least for my taste, to quiet for the evening and also, sometimes, too similar to each other. https://blacknailcabaret.bandcamp.com
Total: 7.3 / 10
The second support act could also be called Dark Pop. They come from Slovenia and were founded by Torul Torulsson (keyboards), who also is the lead composer of the band. The other members are Maj Valerij (vocals) and Borut Dolonec (guitars). Their music managed to excite more enthusiasm between the audience, although also their songs were a bit to quiet and too much Pop for my personal taste. They got much more ovations than BLACK NAIL CABARET and played nearly one hour.
Total: 7.5 / 10
COVENANT is one of the most known Swedish bands and well-known for their dark electronic music since their foundation in 1986. Songs like ‘Der Leiermann’ or ‘Call the ships to port’ have become a legend and are played at nearly every Gothic or EBM party in Germany. COVENANT have published more than 10 albums and this tour presents their latest publication, ‘Fieldwork Excursion’, with contains five new songs and was published in 2019.
Music & Performance
After more than two hours of waiting (while the unannounced supports were playing), COVENANT appeared at 10:05 pm. Or, so to be said, the stage was dived in a cold blue night and a very long intro of about ten minutes began. Here is the place to give some background information to explain how the concert atmosphere developed: The concert was “3G” (vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid-19). For this reason, masks had to be worn and drinks were only allowed outside the hall. It was about six degrees and people had to choose between drinking and freezing outside or remaining inside thirsty. Since nearly all of them had left their coats at the cloakroom, it was a running outside to the bar in the garden, grab a drink, gulp it down, and hurry back inside, putting the mask on again. That was not very beneficial for the spirit of the evening. Waiting with two not so well-fitting support acts for more than two hours wasn’t either.
So the mood was rather restrained even when COVENANT finally made their appearance. After a very quiet and subdued beginning, they played as a second song the well-known ‘Bullet’ which raised the spirits of the audience a little bit. But only temporarily, because the third and fourth song passed with the public staying rather quiet. ‘Dead Stars’, the fifth song, managed to let people dance and earned the band a lot of applause. Eskil started to speak to the audience at the middle of the concert, encouraging them in German to dance. That definitely cheered people up, although the next songs were quieter, before the eleventh song, the hard electro song ‘Stalker’ which was accompanied with an impressive red light, swept over the hall like a thunderstorm.
After this song, the singer presented the band, saying (in German): “Good evening, we are Covenant from Sweden and Leipzig”. At the 13th song they also gave their thanks to the two supporting acts before ending the official concert. They played two encores; at the first set of two songs, the highly acclaimed ‘Call the Ships to Port’ converted the hall in an excited dancing area. Due to the standing ovation, they reappeared after the two encore songs and played a last one before leaving the stage for the last time. Although it was a nice concert and Eskil Simonsson has a beautiful and strong voice (something which cannot be said of all electronic music projects when they are playing live), the audience was not completely electrified.
My impression was that there were factors like the masks, the fact that drinks were not allowed and so on which the band could not have avoided; but also, the long waiting contributed, the sound was not the best and, last but not least, I think that many of the audience liked the “old” songs more than the newer ones. The concert was a success and worth seeing, even more at these difficult times, but I hope the next ones will have a better connection between band and audience.
Total: 8.5 / 10
All pictures by Batty Blue / Gruftbote