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Palladium, Cologne, Germany
17th December 2008

For a purpose built auditorium, rather than a multi purpose arena, the Palladium is huge, with a vast staff who manage to make sure that there are even minimal queues when leaving and collecting your coat... very impressive.

The Black Sheep

By the time THE BLACK SHEEP appeared on stage the audience was already good- naturedly impatient for IN EXTREMO and I thought the four girls from their native Cologne might have their work cut out to keep them happy. Wrong on every count as it turns out for they opened with a hard driving sound that shook those present and soon had them, amongst other things, listening carefully rather than wishing the time away until the main band arrived.

These four ladies, two of them Charly and Johanna Klauser (lead vocals and guitar respectively) are sisters, and with Aurora Steffens (bass) and Trish Ross (drums) go to make up a very hefty sound for a four piece outfit. They have recently released a single ‘You can’t push me’ which they gave a very strong rendition of and have been signed by the Roadrunner label so clearly the future is looking bright with their album ‘Not part of the deal’ well worth a look. Their repertoire is hard to accurately describe, for they are certainly more rock than pop but they have a driven catchiness that leaves you singing their stuff on your way home.

All play their instruments more than adequately and Charly has a voice that stands out from the crowd in its strength and richness. By the time they had completed their set the audience were well and truly with them and reacted with tumultuous applause and were happy to welcome Charly back later when she duetted excellently with Das Letzte Einhorn on ‘Auf’s Leben’. THE BLACK SHEEP are a solid and interesting all girl band who are pop enough to attract widespread success, Goth enough to provoke an emotive response in their audience and rock enough to weather the storms of fashion within the music industry. I recommend you check them out here. /

Music: 9
Performance: 8
Sound: 9
Light: 7
Total: 8.3 / 10

In Extremo

Suddenly after what seemed like an eternity of pitch blackness a huge red horse is projected onto the white screen in front of us, as the intro music strikes up and we watch as it animatedly trots on it’s way for a couple of minutes before there is a blinding flash of bright white light and a deafening bang as the pyro ignited and then we’re into the concert proper as the seven guys from Berlin launch into ‘Sieben Köche’, a track from their fantastically successful ‘Sängerkrieg’ album. Following on from that came ‘Frei zu sein’, which was the debut single from the same album.

The crowd was crazy by now singing along and already totally with the band as Flex began the haunting tragic introduction to ‘Liam’, an old favourite and which they represented Thuringia with in the “Bundesvision song contest” a few years ago. Sung (and very well pronounced) in Irish Gaelic it’s both a hard-hitting track and one of immense sorrow and being half Irish myself it’s one of my personal favourites. The light show I should point out was nothing short of spectacular, which was only to be expected as it always is, however on this night they were filming their new Live DVD and performances by all concerned were sparkling and very, very tight.

A straight mix of tracks from the new album and old faithfuls followed with Micha Rhein commanding the audience in friendly camaraderie throughout backed up by the usual strong and excellent guitar work of Basti Lange who seems happy to lurk in the shadows to the left of the stage, only seemingly coming out to accept well deserved approval during their final ‘Villeman’, where he leaves the audience under no doubt of his abilities. Kay Lutter complements on bass, again another man who seems content to simply play and do his job with quiet enjoyment, and although it would be nice to see more of both these guys, the dynamics of the band are perfectly balanced, with everyone looking relaxed happy and as if they are having the time of their life.

Dr Pymonte takes the centre stage next as he delicately caresses the harp he carries and raised petals and silver shards cascade from the ceiling as the gentle and beautiful introduction to ‘Vollmond’ begins. Das Letzte Einhorn soon rips into this old favourite which has something in the region of 3,000 people singing along word for word with this anthem to passion and mystery and at this point he really does have the audience in the palm of his hand and you can see the pleasure of that interaction wash over him. This is perhaps what I like most about IN EXTREMO, their ability to just play as if they’re just having a damned good time, and involve the audience in every aspect of their performance. They say they are more like a family than a band and I can see that this holds true but it extends further than that to the audience which is something truly remarkable.

An unusual event happened in the form of a duet to ‘Auf’s Leben’ with Charly from THE BLACK SHEEP, which saw she and Micha sitting drinking at a table toasting life in a brief and atmospheric little set change which was well received by the audience. And after finishing the main set with ‘Küss Mich they were gone only to re-appear for a three song strong encore finishing as always with the audience favourite ‘Villeman og Manghild’, where Reiner Morgenroth got to strut his stuff with flaming drumsticks and the man in charge of pyros went a bit mad and really regaled us with some bangs and flashes worth looking at. Boris Pfeiffer had previously twirled flaming batons during one track and it’s nice to see IN EXTREMO pushing the limits in their use of pyros to really stupendous effect.

Seven men from Berlin together now for nearly thirteen years sang twenty three songs and had a blast doing it, no manufactured band here who have forgotten how to enjoy themselves, just friends enjoying their music and that certainly rubbed off on the audience and will hopefully translate to the Live DVD recorded there because it was a very special gig and once again I can only recommend that you check out IN EXTREMO live, because they’re well worth the effort.

01. Sieben Köche
02. Frei Zu Sein
03. Liam
04. Himali Tempore
05. Sängerkrieg
06. Nymphenzeit
07. Ave Maria
08. Spielmanns Fluch
09. Poc Vecem
10. Vollmond
11. En Este Noche
12. Ai Vis Lo Lop
13. Merseberger Zaubersprüche
14. In Diesem Licht
15. Flaschenpost
16. Mein Rasend Hertz
17. Mein Sehnen
18. Omnia Sol Temporat
19. Auf’s Leben
20. Küss Mich
21. Krummavisur
22. Wind
23. Villeman og Manghild

Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 9
Light: 9
Total: 9.7 / 10

All pictures by Maddi Isaacs


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