26th January 2019
Solar Fake - “You Win. Who Cares?” Tour 2019 - Special Guest: Seadrake
After the highly successful release show at the Kulttempel in Oberhausen, the wait is finally over: Germany’s electro favourites SOLAR FAKE are celebrating their latest opus live visiting ten cities from January till March. On January 26th, Cologne was the place to be for all SOLAR-heads. As a special guest they brought along Electro Pop super group SEADRAKE once again. The happening was initially planned to take place at the Luxor, but got relocated to Club Volta, as the guests had been informed in advance. It was almost a sell-out and all attendees must agree: It’s been such a great pleasure to catch these two energetic trios live and loud on stage.
Due to fallen trees on train tracks the reunion with my fellow SOLAR-maniac in Cologne was delayed for two hours. Still, we managed to grab a fresh bite to eat at Dean & David before setting out for the venue. Twilight fell and it started to drizzle. For a second we thought we were lost, but actually the club was just around the corner. Finally, recognising the black queue, which was so well disguised in the darkness, we got in line when shortly after half past six the doors opened. After getting one of those glary yellow wristbands we entered the club which was set up only last summer. First impressions: The walls were illuminated with super colourful mandalas that one simply couldn’t miss. SOLAR FAKE diehards and members of their fan club “Shadowplay e.V.” already secured their spot in the front rows. I know people like to be as close as possible to the action on stage, but taking pictures would turn out difficult without the photographer’s pit. No chance to move around a big crowd that’s partying wholeheartedly, as the one SOLAR FAKE is used to, in order to a get a snap of every musician or think of various angles.
Instead, the sound would turn out superb at the Club Volta, which is one of the most important things, anyways. As promised, vocalist Sven Friedrich, André Feller, his long-term partner in crime at the keys, and drummer Jens “Jeans” Halbauer offered to get together with their fans at the merch stand until SEADRAKE would hit the stage. Folks gathered there to get their exclusive hard tickets that one could get at the official SOLAR FAKE shop, and of course other stuff signed. The fans took the opportunity to say hello to Sven, André and Jens, take a selfie or rather “groufie” with the gents, or express their gratitude to the musicians with hugs. Since it’s too exhausting and inconvenient to do such a meet-up after the show, SOLAR FAKE just do it before the gig. Four concerts are yet to come on this tour, so make sure to be there in time, people of Erfurt (8th Feb), Dresden (9th Feb), Hannover (8th Mar) and Hamburg (9th Mar), if you want to meet and greet the guys.
Vocalist and guitarist Hilton Theissen (AKANOID, DARK MILLENIUM), synth-master Mathias Thürk (ex-MINERVE), and bassist Rickard Gunnarsson (LOWE, STATEMACHINE) have come together to create their very own version of Synth Pop spiced up with Electro Rock under the banner of SEADRAKE. The trio is as multinational as it gets: Hilton was born in South Africa and raised in Germany, Mathias who was born outside of Berlin lives Switzerland, and Rickard is from Sweden. Their musical backgrounds and listening habits are also quite diverse ranging from EDITH PIAF and DAVID BOWIE to UNDERWORLD and NINE INCH NAILS. The band released their first full-length album titled ‘Isola’ in April, 2018. This year, SEADRAKE will also appear at the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig and at the Amphi festival in Cologne. http://www.seadrakemusic.com / https://www.facebook.com/seadrakemusic
Music & Performance
SEADRAKE kicked off with the atmospheric mid-tempo tune ‘Lower Than This (Someday)’. It made for a great opener the way it built up some tension during the first verse and led to the first melodic chorus. What followed was a forty-minute-long set filled with truly catchy songs that have the power to make people dance along immediately, even if they hear the music for the first time. And once you have heard SEADRAKE it almost impossible to get them out of your head. Just try not to “uhhhh” along during the refrain of ‘What You Do To Me’ - impossible! Hilton convinced the audience with his pleasant and powerful vocals and his exuberant dance moves made the audience smile. Mr. Thürk and Mr. Gunnarsson also contributed to the vocals during the choruses. And of course people could admire not only Rickard’s fancy silver shoes, but also his bass playing.
On the whole, the trio sounded just great together. Compared to the record, the rocking aspect of things came across somewhat more prominent and raw when hearing SEADRAKE live, which made for a fun show. When it was time for the single ‘Get It On’, the vocalist took off his jacket, swirled it around his head and threw it away. Needless to say, that this one is also quite an ear worm. Hilton asked the audience in his singing voice: “People, do you feel like moving a bit?” A few days after the gig, the music video for ‘Get It On’ was released. Similar to the last time, when the band played at SOLAR FAKE’s record release gig back in August, they also presented their version of the AKANOID song ‘No Matter’. Before they shared their final catchy tune, ‘Something Durable’, the vocalist introduced their international band. Matthias blew the applauding crowd a kiss with both hands and Rickard made an elegant bow. Then, Hilton began to sing the first verse and started to jump, however, Matthias took his time to finally also “drop the beat”. This made the singer scold his bandmate and laugh.
SEADRAKE made their exit with that driving song, Hilton took out his guitar for the last time toward the end of the song and animated the crowd: “Volta! It’s time to move! One, two, three, four, come on!” The band earned a good round of applause, thanked the audience and handed over to SOLAR FAKE.
01. Lower Than This (Someday)
03. What You Do To Me
04. On The Run
05. Conformity Loves Company
06. Get It On
07. No Matter (AKANOID cover)
08. Something Durable
Total: 8.5 / 10
Can you imagine that it’s been over a decade now that ‘Broken Grind’, SOLAR FAKE’s debut records, saw the light of day?! Founded in 2007 the unique, high-class and addictive electro act has a total of five captivating long-play albums filled with smashing hits, moving ballads and amazing cover versions to their name. End of August 2018, they released ‘You Win. Who Cares?’ presenting the pinnacle of their discography thus far. It entered the German album charts on rank 20. End of last year, the first three records ‘Broken Grind’, ‘Frontiers’, and ‘Reasons to kill’ were re-released under the title ‘One 2 Three’ - a great intro piece for new fans and cool collectible for SF-diehards as one also gets to hear six bonus live tracks. https://www.solarfake.de / https://www.facebook.com/SolarFake
Music & Performance
Over the last years, SOLAR FAKE have delighted their audience, in Germany and also abroad, on smaller stages in clubs as well as on the big stage at festivals, by presenting an outstanding live performance. Thanks to their diverse compositions and characteristic vocals, more and more lovers of electronic music keep gathering around the act. And is it possible that everyone involved, the musicians on stage and their fans in front of it, are bursting with energy more and more with every single SOLAR gig that is on the schedule? It seems like it. Especially now, that the fans know also the lines of the latest album, there was loud singing and also screaming along for about two hours. The act knows how to carry their audience. Thanks to Sven’s distinctive vocals, André’s enthusiastic accompaniment at his keyboard and nowadays also Jens’ drumming, accurate like a clockwork, as a special live show extra, one can attend a SOLAR FAKE show with the highest of expectations. And what's more, in the end, one can leave into the night with those expectations still being exceeded by the trio - once again. Awesomely awesome.
The sound was top-notch from the start; particularly, if your favourite spot is in the middle. The drums weren’t too loud, the melodies and all the special ear-candy wasn’t drowned out by the powerful beats and the frontman shone. All was in perfect harmony, so that SOLAR FAKE could let their music just speak for itself. Apart from two songs, they played the entire latest album ‘You Win. Who Cares?’. Older tracks, by now beloved classics, were of course also on that night’s setlist. And so, all five records that SOLAR FAKE have created thus far, are to be celebrated on this tour. The debut record ‘Broken Grind’ was represented with one of those very special songs: The gripping ballad ‘Here I Stand’. It turned out to be a particularly memorable moment for two people that were standing in the front row. “Before we play the next song, somebody wants to say something,” Sven explained. It was a guy, who prepared a surprise for his girlfriend knowing that this tune is one of her favourite songs: He said a few words, kneeled down and proposed to her. She said yes and Sven wished them all the best.
All thumbs up also for SOLAR FAKE’s new light show consisting of three squares which served as screens for some cool animations making for a great visual contribution to the songs. During the singles the music or lyric videos were also shown. Personally, I felt that the older, long-known pictures spread an almost nostalgic feel making fans realise even more, for how long SOLAR FAKE has been enriching their lives by now with their creative work. Before ‘Anything You Want’ resounded, Sven announced that the next video is still in the making for that one: “Things can take quite a while, if you do all by yourself...” If I were to nit-pick, the only thing I’d confess is that I had wished for a new opener for a change. A different intro for a this new tour, so to speak, be it one of the new songs or a much older one. But then again, for those who had enjoyed SOLAR FAKE live during the last couple of years, the well familiar intro notes of ‘Not What I Wanted’ from the album ‘Another Manic Episode’ (2015) actually act like an activate button for kick-off by now.
And then? Well, in a nutshell: People had a blast singing and dancing in step together with SOLAR FAKE – from the first second to the last! The crowd didn’t only sing along the riff of ‘More Than This’, which has become a tradition of sorts, but even turned into an a cappella choir by keeping on singing the synth line after the end of the song. Club Volta was filled with good vibes only, that’s a fact, and the musicians on stage were all smiles about it. We called SOLAR FAKE back for two proper rounds of encores, which the vocalist encouraged by saying “You know what to do.” The crowd in Cologne obviously knew how to make some noise. Unfortunately, the beseeching ballad ‘Stay’, that was supposed to bring the concert to a close on a melancholic note, got suddenly cut in the middle due to a technical problem. The “actually new laptop” decided to fool about and kill things off. This wasn’t how SOLAR FAKE wanted to go though, and instead, made a few arrangements for a “stand-in song”: With their cover version of ARCHIVE’s ‘Fuck U’ they brought Club Volta to a boil one more time. One-word summary of SOLAR FAKE’s appearance on 26th January: Wow!
01. Not What I Wanted
02. Under Control
03. Sick of You
04. A Bullet Left For You
06. Here I Stand
07. All The Things You Say
08. Reset To Default
09. The Pain That Kills You Too
11. Anything You Want
12. More Than This
14. Too Late
15. Just Like This
16. If This Is Hope
17. What If There’s Nothing
18. Papillon (EDITORS cover)
20. The Pages
21. I Hate You More Than My Life
22. Where Are You
24. Fuck U (ARCHIVE cover)
Total: 10 / 10
All pictures by LAy