18th November 2022
Solitary Experiments - “Transcendent” Tour 2022 - Support: Vanguard & Mental Exile
SOLITARY EXPERIMENTS are well-known in the Electro / Gothic scene and look back to an almost 30-years career. They released their new album ‘Transcendent’ three weeks ago and started their tour last Friday in Potsdam. On this tour, they are accompanied by MENTAL EXILE and VANGUARD. Both special guests have their fingers in the game at ‘Transcendent’. MENTAL EXILE contributed a remix to the pre-single ‘Every Now And Then’ and VANGUARD’s Patrik Hansson can be heard as a guest singer on the album-track ‘Sea Of Love’. That gives me hope for one or another guest appearance. But more on that later.
First a few words about the Hellraiser. This is my first concert in this location. Shortly after 6:00 p.m., a handful of music enthusiasts has already gathered in front of the door. In the “Stahlgarten” (nice beer garden next door) some people treat themselves to a mulled wine to warm up. At temperatures around 0 degrees, that seems to be a good idea. Till the door opens at 7:00 p.m., a queue has already formed. The Hellraiser team is well organized and everything goes very quickly at the entrance. We expect a full house today. The show is completely sold out with almost 600 tickets.
The large hall presents itself with a very unusual wall design with scene motifs by Wito Apitzsch, which immediately create a pleasant and appropriate atmosphere. Drinks are quickly provided at the two bars and next door there is a small hall where an after-show party will take place afterwards. A fine, atmospheric club, very nice staff, parking lot directly opposite and in the “Stahlgarten” you can certainly endure in summertime. I like it and I would love to come back.
MENTAL EXILE is the Synth Wave solo project of FUTURE LIED TO US singer Damasius Venys. The music is strongly influenced by Damasius’ obvious passion for the 80s as well as horror and science-fiction movies. Melancholic dark Pop arrangements led by melodic vintage synth lines and the unmatched voice of Damasius, that always give me a pleasantly nostalgic feeling. MENTAL EXILE released the EPs ‘Exile Nights’, ‘Exile Nights II’ and ‘Inferno Hotline’, the full-length album ‘Ride the madness’ and several singles. Live the singer gets support from Daniele Jaeger on keys. https://www.facebook.com/mentalexileproject
Music & Performance
Since there is no heating in the club, it is quite chilly at first and I am glad to have a jacket on. But I’m sure, we’ll get warm very quickly. Around a quarter to eight the club has already filled up. When I look around, I’m pleased to see that many young people have ended up here. Some are already dancing to the music from the speakers. Whether out of anticipation or just to warm up is hard to say. The audience definitely seems to be in a good temper. Damasius and his partner Daniele enter the stage in time at 8:00 p.m. in partner look with a leopard print. Very nice to look at. The two are greeted with hearty applause and get started with ‘Strangers’. The singer impresses with his likeable and extroverted manner. So, the question “do you fancy” is answered with a big loud yeah.
Songs like ‘Run Away’ and ‘One of us’ encourage us to dance. ‘Renegades’ brings a lot of clapping along. And “now something new”. The artist’s new single ‘The Top Model’, which was released today, is also very well received. With his spirit, the singer quickly infects the Leipzig audience and creates a good mood. This is followed by ‘From The Dark’ and ‘The Night Is Mine’ from 2019s album ‘Ride the madness’. A brief questioning look at the crowd and then a joyful smile on the artist’s face as his performance gets enthusiastic cheers from the audience. With ‘Falling’ we get really fired up again. “Hellraiser, thank you. It was great with you.” After Daniele was introduced to us, the two leave the stage, visibly satisfied, arm in arm. An extremely successful start, which obviously convinces the fans and is simply fun. By the way, I’m no longer cold.
02. Run away
03. One of us
05. The Top model
06. From the dark
07. The night is mine
Total: 9.3 / 10
Swedish Synth duo VANGUARD straddle the line between traditional Synth Pop and modern Future Pop with strong melodies and pulsating, trancy beats. Jonas Olofsson (drums / keys) and Patrik Hansson (vocals) after 12 years of band history released their fifth studio album ‘Spectrum’ in July 2022. The duo combines angsty lyrics with an unique catchy and danceable Electro Pop sound - hard beats mixed with melodic elements and strong melodies. Today they are supported on keys by Rob Dust. https://www.facebook.com/vanguardofficial
Music & Performance
During the short changeover, people just keep dancing to the music from the speakers in front of the stage. At 8:50 p.m. Rob Dust is the first to enter the stage, closely followed by Jonas. We are greeted by Patrik with “Hello Leipzig! We are VANGUARD from Gothenburg, Sweden.” Then they start their party with ‘Inside’ at full force. It’s obvious that the Swedes are no unknown. Over the years they have already built up a considerable fan base and are greeted with thunderous applause. The audience is already over the moon. “Thank you, what a good start.” The set focuses on songs from the last two releases ‘Spectrum’ and ‘Manifest’. Unfortunately, today there is little room for older tracks. With ‘Grit’ and ‘Only Lies’ from the 2019 album ‘Manifest’ the Swedes really heat up. The songs have a lot of drive and it’s time to get rid of my jacket.
Patrik doesn’t need much to win over the audience. Small gestures are enough. The crowd goes along, claps, sings and dances exuberantly. The new song ‘Move Out’ and the hymn ‘Open Sky’ also have collective dancing and singing along. During ‘Riot’ Jonas cheers the crowd with the megaphone. The sympathetic musicians are smiling from ear to ear and obviously have as much fun as we do. ‘Ragnarök’ is in town! The hit of the current album makes the hall tremble. The Hellraiser lives up to its name in terms of temperature. And it’s “Time for a ‘A Different Story’ now”. The track of the album ‘Never Surrender’ really gets down to business. The Swedes have the crowd under control and follow up with ‘Unreachable’. The last song of the set ‘Save Me’ is celebrated again and loudly sung along.
With the fans’ lyrics-sureness, you could think that it was already the headliner of the evening. The musicians seem to be as surprised as they are pleased and happily wave goodbye to us. Magnificent.
03. Only Lies
04. Move Out
05. Open Sky
09. A Different Story
11. Save Me
Total: 9.3 / 10
As mentioned above the band started their carrier almost three decades ago. Formed by Dennis Schober and Michael Thielemann in 1994, SOLITARY EXPERIMENTS brought their motto “solid, catchy, high quality electro sounds with attitude” to life on almost countless releases. Many hits like ‘Immortal’, ‘Delight’ or ‘Stars’ have become indispensable on club dancefloors. The band shortly released their long awaited eighth album ‘Transcendent’, where front man Dennis Schober for the first time welcomes guest singers like Elena Fossi (KIRLIAN CAMERA), Nina De Lianin (IN STRICT CONFIDENCE) and Dirk Ivens (DIVE). I’m really curious what they make out of it on stage. http://www.solitaryexperiments.de / https://www.facebook.com/solitaryexperiments
Music & Performance
For the changeover, there is a little fog on the stage and then space is made. It all goes very quickly and so SOLITARY EXPERIMENTS are welcomed on stage soon. At 9:50 p.m., the two drummers Frank Glassl and Sebastian Gauff are first on stage with ‘Transcendent’ (Intro). Keyboarders Michael Thielemann and Markus Schmidt follow shortly thereafter. The musicians are greeted euphorically by the audience. And as Dennis Schober enters the stage with “Hello Leipzig, we are SOLITARY EXPERIMENTS” he sends the Hellraiser straight into ‘Wonderland’. The opener of the current album works excellently and causes ecstasy right at the beginning. This is followed by ‘Crash & Burn’ from the previous album ‘Future Tense’ and before the 2009 classic ‘Immortal’ continues, Frank and Sebastian (affectionately called “Seppo”) strip off their shirts. The audience is already freaking out with the first bars of the song. The classic is celebrated wildly.
‘Heart Of Stone’ is visually staged extremely coherently and takes us back to the present and to ‘Transcendent’. Dennis’ singing gives me a real goose bump moment. Then comes ‘In Agony’, “another new song. That’s what we’re here for.” Of course, ‘Transcendent’ has priority tonight. The audience has apparently heard little else in the last three weeks and has the lyrics of the new songs already in mind. In any case, the audience sings along at the top of their lungs. But the classics are not neglected either. And so, with ‘Self Deception’, the gentlemen have “now dug up something old.” Excited about this, someone from the off calls out “Micha, I want a child from you!” And I’d like to mention, it wasn’t a woman. This brings up laughter to the crowd and on stage as well. ‘Self-Fulfilling Prophecy’ and ‘Head Over Heels’ follow. The two new tracks are also enthusiastically received by the audience. The new songs work just as good as the well-known hits. The audience celebrates properly. Dennis is obviously happy. The man glows all over his face and announces ‘Träumen’, “something to come down”. Dennis handles the first ‘Transcendent’ duet very well even without the vocal support of Nina De Lianin. The song works great solo.
With ‘Pale Candle Light’ it’s time for us to join in and you can probably still hear us singing “enough is enough” outside the doors. Because it was so nice, another classic from ‘Mind Over Matter’ follows and Leipzig dances in ‘Delight’. After that, Dennis takes a short break and clears the stage once more for Patrik Hansson and ‘Sea Of Love’. The second ‘Transcendent’ duet ‘Zeitgeist’ is also convincing as a solo version. Unfortunately, ‘The Great Unknown’ doesn’t succeed that well. I’m missing the voice of Elena Fossi here and the right goose bump effect doesn’t set. And then comes the last song ‘Stars’. The track is celebrated so heavy, that Dennis has a big smile on his face from start to finish. Of course, the gentlemen don’t get off that easily and Leipzig already demands an encore before the musicians leave the stage. It comes promptly and the band is back quickly. It goes on old school with ‘Wasteland’ and back to the present with ‘Every Now And Then’. ‘Brace Yourself!’ and ‘Epiphany’ follow; “turn the lights on for the showdown” seems to be program and the stage is brightly lit. Maybe the perfect conclusion of a very varied and coherent set but...
...there was something else. SOLITARY EXPERIMENTS leave the stage for a short breather and come back with André, one of the three Golden Ticket winners. As luck (or providence?) would have it, today is his birthday. There is of course a communal serenade and a collective “Happy Birthday” from everyone present and with ‘Rise And Fall’ one last song. “That’s why we’ve been doing this for 28 years. See you at the after-show party or come home safely. Enjoy your life.” With these words, Dennis leaves many happy and extremely satisfied-looking people behind in front of the stage. After the show, the musicians insist on stopping by the merch to tattle with the fans a bit. There is still a lot going on there and many take the opportunity to take a photo together and have their newly purchased posters, shirts and other stuff signed. The after-show party is already in full swing. I’ll skip that today. It’s been a long day and I’m glad when falling into my hotel bed exhausted but very pleased and happy shortly before one o’clock.
01. Transcendent (Intro)
03. Crash & Burn
05. Heart Of Stone
06. In Agony
07. Self Deception
08. Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
09. Head Over Heels
10. Point Of View
12. Pale Candle Light
14. Sea Of Love (feat. Patrik Hansson)
18. The Great Unknown
21. Every Now And Then
22. Brace Yourself!
24. Rise And Fall
Total: 9.5 / 10
All Pictures by Aileen Ritter