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goetheserben sieben tour2021Columbia Theater, Berlin, Germany
19th September 2021
Goethes Erben and Sieben

On this cold autumn evening, a lot of expectation was palpable in the air. The seats of the Columbia Theater were mostly occupied with people who were, at least by their appearance, members of / or connected to the Gothic subculture. For many of them, this might have been their first concert since the Covid-19 pandemic. The concert of GOETHES ERBEN in Berlin had been postponed from 2020 to this year.


Sieben

SIEBEN is a “one-person-project” by the middle-aged British musician Matt Howden, who, according to his self-description, teaches at a British college. He sings and plays the electric violin.

Music & Performance
I can honestly say that SIEBEN was not what I had expected. Oswald Henke had appeared very punctually at 8 pm joking that he was happy that people had left their couches and had come to the concert. He announced a sombre programme, but anticipated that Matt’s performance would be less dark. And that was indeed true - to a degree that I first had to adapt my expectations to the performance happening. Matt is a musician with a very, very British sense of humour, a skilled violinist and above all, his behaviour is the complete opposite of Oswald Henke’s dark, intellectual, melancholic conduct. He appeared joyfully waving a bottle of beer, and although his songs did deal with the apocalypse and the political system of England, which he often criticized, all his attitude was playful and he laughed, joked and made a kind of music very hard to describe, since it consisted of an often monotonous beat, an inflaming electric violin sound and a dissonant singing.

He waved alternately his beer bottle and his violin bow and earned laughter and applause - as he probably had intended. He frequently joked about himself - e.g. when he announced a song about the apocalypse written in times before Covid-19 and stated that one has to be careful about what ones writes, because it might come true - and that next time he would write about fluffy kittens and everyone getting a puppy. Ore when he lost track and humorously told us that due to the pandemic he had made music at home, where he could always has a look at the notes, and that he had printed them out in a too small size. He spoke very reverently of  GOETHES ERBEN and stopped punctually at 9 pm, earning a well-deserved applause.

Rating
Music: 7
Performance: 10
Sound: 8
Light:7
Total: 8 / 10


Goethes Erben

GOETHES ERBEN, one of the greatest legends of the German Gothic and Alternative music scene, were founded more than 30 years ago by Oswald Henke and Peter Seipt. Their music, above all the voice of Oswald, has been an unmistakable part of the Gothic culture with their sometimes dark, sometimes melancholic, sometimes ironic and often political songs. After their retirement of the stage in 2012, they reappeared in 2013. GOETHES ERBEN have had a long break without publishing a new album - then, in 2018 and 2020, two new albums came out. It is the latest one, ‘Flüchtige Küsse’, which they are going to present on this tour called “X”, which was postponed from 2020 to 2021 due to the pandemic. At their tour they are not only accompanied by the British musician Matt Howden and his project SIEBEN, but also by a professional dancer, whose name, according to our colleagues from the Frankenpost, is Ida Franziska Groß (https://www.frankenpost.de/inhalt.hof-goethes-erben-in-der-alten-filzfabrik.9e8d5556-dad1-48a8-b25d-6cc85a065c16.html).

Music & Performance
After a 30-minutes break, the lights of the location went out, and GOETHES ERBEN made their appearance. Or, better said, Oswald’s voice made the appearance, saying that “the future was death”. GOETHES ERBEN had banned any type of pictures taken during their performance. Nearly all the public obeyed that order, so the hall was indeed dark and the only lights came from the stage, where pictures of barbed wire were displayed. During all the concert, projections of light were visible all over the hall and different pictures, mostly related to the songs and always dark and often morbid, were showed at a big screen behind the band.

I have seen several concerts of GOETHES ERBEN in the last years, but this one was by far the darkest. Oswald appearing during the first song blindfolded (which was called ‘Bin ich blind’ - ‘Am I blind’) might be taken as a symbol for the whole show. The dancer also made her appearance during this first real song, dancing expressively in a kind of tights covering her whole body including her face and hair. The third song, ‘Xenomelie’, dealt with persons who find parts of their own body repugnant. “The left arm has to go” (“der linke Arm muss weg!”) cried Oswald. I always wonder if there is a hidden political meaning in this song - but well, one of the most inspiring facts about GOETHES ERBEN is that they have so many possible meanings underlying their lyrics and give so much room for interpretations in their songs. The fifth song, ‘Rot’ (‘red’) was a rather disturbing ballad about defloration, the colour red and the loss of innocence.

During ‘Verstümmelung’ (‘mutilation’) lots of fake blood ran down Oswald’s arm. I had the impression that the public had needed some songs to be fully engaged with the show, but from this point on, the audience was as involved as it is possible during a seated concert. For me, GOETHES ERBEN and of course especially Oswald Henke managed to make the audience feel the emotions their songs are dealing with. ‘Mit dem Wissen’ (‘With the knowledge’) was one of the most acclaimed ones. “We have thought about changing our jobs” said Oswald ironically before performing his song ‘Spiel mit mir’ (‘Play with me’), where he addresses the issue of sport events being permitted, whereas musicians and other artists were banned from stage during the pandemic. They closed their regular set with the outstanding and highly moving song ‘Das Ende’ (‘The End) about the end of time and the rising of the “heirs of the Third Reich”.

After retiring only shortly, they reappeared on the stage again, and Oswald explicitly praised the audience in Berlin, saying ironically that sometimes the audiences seems to be frozen, and that he does not know if it is from lack of interest or from fear. The later one, he said playfully, he would not object. Well, although it was really, really cold in the theatre due to the ventilation (probably a measure against Covid-19) the atmosphere was surely not, and it can be said the event was a big success - something also expressed by GOETHES ERBEN themselves on their Facebook page.

Setlist (published by GOETHES ERBEN themselves on their Facebook page)
01. Prolog
02. Bin ich blind
03. Nagen
04. Xeneomelie
05. Rot
06. Verstümmelung
07. Darwins Jünger
08. Nichts bleibt wie es war
09. Mit dem Wissen
10. Vergessen
11. Spiel mit mir
12. Vorbei Vorbei
13. Traum vom Leben
14. Kopfstimme
15. Das Ende
---
15. Märchenprinzen
17. Mensch sein
18. Maskenball der Nackten
19. Sitz der Gnade
20. Iphigenie

Rating
Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 8
Light: 10
Total: 9.5 / 10

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