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E-Werk, Zossen, Germany
July 17th 2005
Eric Fish

Eric "Fish" Hecht should be well known for those who listen to German metal or gothic music; he is the singer of the successful band Subway to Sally. As if playing around 100 concerts with the band each year wasn’t enough, Eric also gives solo concerts, thereby adding another 40-50 concerts pro year to his schedule. He started his musical career playing bagpipes, the pennywhistle and guitar in pubs and on the street, and as Subway to Sally gradually grew bigger, he realised that he missed the closeness to and contact with the audience. Thus he started touring the smaller clubs and pubs with his own programme, letting the audience closer to the private Eric.

The remarkable thing with these concerts is that for a mere 10 Euro one can get up to 6 hours of entertainment! A normal set list contains around 40 songs, but if the lads onstage - and the audience - are still up for it, another 10-15 songs can happen... everything from self-written material, Subway songs (also unreleased ones) re-arranged to fit the acoustic format of the concerts, cover songs, traditionals and (more or less good) jokes. Some songs are clearly very political; against war, for a better and warmer society, against the stupidity of casted bands and old union songs, whilst he in other songs just ponders about the smaller things in life. Common for all songs are that they are "mind fodder" - meant to get the audience to think about life and what is important. Whether Eric stands and jumps onstage with Subway to Sally or sits on his chair with a guitar in hand, his charisma and stage presence is remarkable, forcing the audience into his world, to listen and to think.

Alongside him on the stage are three friends; Uwe Nordwig, Rainer Michalek and – as of lately – Gerit Hecht, playing guitars, the harmonica, keyboards and singing. In addition to singing, Eric plays guitar, mandolin, bagpipes, (medieval) shawm and sometimes different whistles (pennywhistle and low whistle). The quartet is also the back bone of a newly started project called 'Weiß'.

The stage is set with three chairs, a huge amount of stringed instruments and a keyboard, flanked everywhere by burning candles. Chairs, benches and stools fill the area in front of the stage (sitting on a cement floor for several hours isn’t exactly comfortable) and the lights are dim. Without further ado, Eric walks on stage, climbs onto his chair and picks up a guitar, starting with Im Spiegel, one of his own songs, stating his reasons for going solo. With the instrumental intro/outro Träumerei first Uwe, then Rainer join in, and then the concert gets going properly, with the brilliant Anders sein (Being different) - beautiful guitar parts and strong lyrics, and not to forget the "non-verbal hymn" that is to be played over and over again in between other songs, as a sort of test to see if the audience is still fit or if it’s about time to go home. And the audience passes the first test, painting a smile of relief onto Eric’s face. The songs from the solo album of last year ("Auge in Auge" – Eye to Eye) make up the bigger part of the first part of the concert, in fact all songs with the exception of "Otherside" and "New Chapter" was played. "New Chapter" fell out of obvious reasons; the contest known from the CD still goes strong, but with a different song this time (a song is being played and the first to shout the name of the band gets something to drink as a reward; be it whisky, red wine or beer). I will, however, not write from which band! The sound was far above the normal standard for live shows, only tarned by the occasional hiccup onstage and the rather annoying squeaks emitting from Eric’s chair. As for the lights, they are lit simply for the purpose of being able to see what is going on onstage. Not exactly the optimal lights for taking pictures, but a warm glow on the artists nevertheless.

The three certainly fit well together onstage; whereas guitar-playing might not be the strongest sides of Eric and Rainer, Uwe plays brilliantly, but when he in turn has to pass up on the longer passages sung in English, Rainer takes over. Together they do harmonies, and Eric revealed that they draw heavily on Crosby, Stills and Nash in doing so, after having sung an intense version of Cathedral. With the outro sounding through the venue again Uwe and Rainer disappear backstage, and Eric is once again alone, still mesmerising the audience. A series of singer/songwriter songs in German follow, amongst others the beautiful 'Die Gefühle', 'Unterwegs' and 'Erdbeermund', with 'An der Zeit' ('The green fields of France' translated into German by Hannes Wader) as the last song before the break. This song brutally describes the reality of being a soldier in the first world war, very emotionally and intensely, but by now it was evident that Eric’s voice was in need of a break. But what would a Fish solo concert be without the bagpipes being played? A medley of traditionals with a fingerbreakingly fast 'Scotland the Brave' rounded it off nicely before the demo songs of Weiß filled the room and the queue at the bar grew to monstrous proportions.

Gerit Hecht makes his first appearance onstage after the break, as Eric announces a new song from the upcoming Subway to Sally album ('Nord Nord Ost', to be released on the 22nd of August). Together they do an acoustic "raw version" of 'Feuerkind' (fire child), with Eric singing and Gerit playing the keyboards; a beautiful and intense song about the cold and love-less upbringing of a child, leading him to find warmth where warmth can be found... Then Uwe and Rainer also enter the stage again, this time without instruments, but to Eric’s dismay both with cigarettes in their hands. "Der Meister" shortly disappears backstage to get some cigars of proper Freudian dimensions before they perform a quiet, toned down version of the well-known Subway song 'Kleid aus Rosen'. The symbolism of the song, coupled with the cigars might not have been intended, but then the cigars were passed to the audience too, and then chaos was perfect. Ok, sometimes a cigar IS just a cigar... maybe.

Not only the new Subway album got previewed; 'So ein Schrei' from the upcoming solo album (entitled 'Zwilling', to be released in October) was also being played, sounding promisingly political again; together we stand – alone we fall. And as the concert slowly comes to an end (surprisingly early, I must add), the four onstage wish themselves back to old times, to camp fires and to "knocking on heaven’s door", though they also delivered a practical way of miming the bagpipes. Ingredients: three singers and a bathtub. I’ll leave it up to people who visit a concert by Eric to figure out exactly how! The song 'Mäh' is the "ultimate bagpipe hating song", born from the pain of having been to festivals where bagpipes are being played around the clock. I can only sympathise with the four.

Eric’s initial concerns about playing a concert "in his own backyard" were totally wasted. The concert was great, the audience happily clapped and hummed them back again for two rounds of extra numbers, and as they left, the aforementioned "non-verbal hymn" sounded through the streets of Zossen. A lovely evening with songs spanning over a multitude of emotions: laughter, smiles, anger, curiosity and passion. The only thing that was not – and will never be – an ingredient was indifference.


Own songs:

Im Spiegel (In the mirror)
Träumerei (Dreaming)
Anders sein (Being different)
Traumfänger (Dream catcher)
Sag’s (Say it)
Glotze (Telly)
100 Jahre (100 years)
Weißt du noch damals... Knocking on heaven’s door
Deine Tage (Your days)
Dornröschen (Sleeping beauty)
Schneewittchen (Snow white)
So ein Schrei (Such a scream)
Das Blueslied (The blues song)


Es kommt der Tag
Your daughters and your sons
Satt zu essen
An der Zeit
Die Gefühle
Ehrlich will ich bleiben


Turn the page
The Joker
Behind blue eyes / Mad World
The weeping song
Find the cost of freedom
Indian Song
New York City
Love is a rose
If I had a hammer
Knocking on heaven’s door


The peeler and the goat
Irish Instrumental
Blackleg miner
Bagpipe medley
Farewell sweet lovely Nancy

Subway to Sally:

Kleid aus Rosen
Auf der Reise
Down the line

Music: 10
Performance: 9
Sound: 9
Lights: 3 (disregarded in the final score, as it is not a part of the show)
Total: 9

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