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Rockfabrik, Ludwigsburg, Germany
16th March 2008
Unheilig, Down Below, F.A.Q

Having recently released the album ‘Puppenspiel’, Unheilig were touring German cities - besides i.e. an extended Russian tour - and were guest at the Rockfabrik in Ludwigsburg mid of March to present the songs of the current album live, not to miss out lots of the older hits of course.


In 1994 the band was formed under the name CARPE DIEM and soon became "the spearhead for Swiss made independent electro-pop music" (Bravo magazine). The band also became popular in the international electro-scene after supporting and touring with bands like DEINE LAKAIEN, DE/VISION, MESH and CLAN OF XYMOX. I totally missed the show of F.A.Q., so I could tell nothing to the appearance of the band. Bystanders and fans where not impressed and told me that this was one of the worst shows F.A.Q. delivered this time.

Down Below

A band which appeared from nowhere on the stage of Goth music and has gained enthusiastic support with its debut album ‘Sinfony23’. “For us there is no past. DOWN BELOW is a new beginning.” Although being completely without a past was definitely not the easiest path to choose, the band has already achieved a great deal since their formation in 2003. When they presented a convincing cover version of the Heroes Del Silencio song ‘Entre dos Tierras’ at the Wave Gotik Treffen, the Spanish audience was elated so much that a fan club was immediately founded back home. DOWN BELOW live out their excesses by making music and manage to create a mixture of pop, rock and Goth on ‘Sinfony23’.

Music & Performance
Because of the poor preparation of F.A.Q. the people in the Rockfabrik were still very quiet and reserved but it could not influence DOWN BELOW. They hammered the people in front of the stage to the ground from start on. The crowd went wild with the second song and the guys on the stage rocked the room to the last corner and the lame applause from the first song gained almost hurricane strength this time. The singer of DOWN BELOW managed to put a spell on the fans in front of the stage and with his rousing voice he took them even further into this bubbling volcano. With their fourth song, DOWN BELOW managed rise the temperature to a boiling point and the dance floor cooked like lava running down a steep hill.

They hit the crowd like a bomb with their first and currently only song in German language ‘Sand in meiner Hand’ which had also very big success on the TV-show “Bundesvision Song Contest” from television moderator and comedian Stefan Raab. The singer formed the fans like sand in his hands and prepared them for the remaining night. Barely after the last note from ‘Sand in meiner Hand’ was played and the applause went silent, DOWN BELOW played another smashing hit from their repertoire. They mobilized the last strength from their fans with ‘Runaway’ and their perfectly tuned guitars their hard hitting drums and thrilling voice DOWN BELOW took a calmer pace with their final song ‘Nobody knows’; but this song couldn’t  change the awfully good mood.

F.A.Q. prepared the fans not properly for this evening but DOWN BELOW managed to get the crowd to a boiling point at a short time. Musically, DOWN BELOW reached unspoken highs on this evening. They reached almost instantly the boiling point with their brilliantly played guitars, their hard hitting drums and the thrilling voice. The singer managed to fill the people with enthusiasm and animate them to participate in this celebration with his charismatic-sweeping nature. The crowd was prepared well with this really good show.

Performance: 8
Music: 8
Sound: 8
Light: 8
Total: 8


At the end of 1999 the first single ‘Sage Ja!’ was released and was at the same time the first visible proof that UNHEILIG existed. The single, which it is still a club hit today, immediately entered the German DAC charts and remained there for several weeks. In February 2001, the long awaited debut album ‘Phosphor’ was released and soon succeeded by the second single ‘Komm zu mir!’ which didn't fall short of the first one in any way and is also still part of most club DJ play lists. This second album ‘Das zweite Gebot’ (release date: 07. April 2003) is a successful continuation of the typical UNHEILIG style: Graf’s powerful electro rock songs - sometimes danceable, sometimes ballad-like - enchant the listener. German lyrics plus the distinguished, deep and passionate voice and the charismatic personality of the Graf soon rendered UNHEILIG one of the most popular artists in Germany.

More or less simultaneously with the release of the new album ‘Zelluloid’ on 23rd February 2004, the Germany tour started on 27th February 2004. Both, album and tour became an immediate success and enhanced UNHEILIG’s degree of popularity. On 20th January 2006 ‘Moderne Zeiten’ came out and finally brought UNHEILIG the long-awaited chart entry (position 76)! The limited first edition was sold out immediately! In February and March the “Goldene Zeiten Tour” followed and enthused fans and promoters all over Germany as most of the venues were sold out. Again a traditional fan voting was made in which the fans could choose their personal favourite song. This time the fans voted for ‘Astronaut’ and ‘Mein Stern’. In the year 2007, UNHEILIG limited their appearances to a few carefully selected festivals (WACKEN Open Air Festival, AMPHI Festival, BURGROCK Altena Festival) and some shows abroad in order to concentrate on the preparations to the new album ‘Puppenspiel’ and the “Puppenspieler-Tournee” which both followed at the beginning of 2008.

Music & Performance
Shortly after the appearance of DOWN BELOW the stage was rebuilt and ready for the Band UNHEILG and the charming singer “Der Graf”. The Fans were so excited that nobody wanted to leave his place in this short break. Five minutes before the actual performance, a theatre gong sounded and the voice of the Graf asked the crowd to take their seats. Now really all people who were in the Rockfabrik had gathered in front of the stage, once again sounded the theatre gong and the people were asked to take their final places. The light vanished and the first notes of the intro ‘Vorhang Auf’ introduce the listeners in a wonderful night with a first class performance. Although “Der Graf” still appeared not on the stage, the crowd went crazy at this moment. The singer appeared on the stage accompanied with the fantastically played guitar and wonderful sounds from the keyboards and intoned the first song ‘Puppenspieler’. The crowd in front of the stage couldn’t longer hold on and gave the charismatic singer all their energy from the first song. All danced wildly to the sound of music as hung up on invisible threads. The applause rose to an unspoken high as the last tone was played. Fulfilled with so much energy and joy “Der Graf” drove his performance to undreamt highs.

The people shoot high about their already reached boiling point and with his second song, UNHEILG continued to heat them up and the fans followed them like puppets obeying the will of their master. After the second song ‘Spiegelbild’, “Der Graf” showed some mercy for his visible exhausted fans and intoned the beautiful and quiet ballad ‘Astronaut’.  The fans listened with reverence grateful for this little break and could renew their energies for the rest of this evening. After the frenetic applause went silent, “Der Graf” was visibly impressed by this jubilation and started to play ‘Fang mich auf’. After the first tones were played, the masses went crazy and went over the top and followed the band even further in the wake of joy and ecstasy. But “Der Graf” no longer wanted them to rest and played another hard hitting hit, ‘Ich will alles’. He opened the last energy reserves of the people with his words “I want everything… I still want more….” and they danced like crazy in front of the stage. With the following raging applause, the band was nearly swept away from the stage.

With the next two songs, ‘Sei mein Licht’ and ‘Feuerengel’, “Der Graf” took a gentler pace and gave his fans some time to recover. But with those quiet and wonderful songs, the crowd pushed their energy to the applause and not in their movement, and almost smashed the band like rolling waves hitting the coastline. ‘Die Bestie’ heated the hall again to unspoken highs and prepared the crowd for the following song ‘Lampenfieber’. With hard hitting guitars and synthesizer sounds accompanied by a hypnotic dancing, “Der Graf” and his rousing voice the fans entered another state of frenzy on this evening. The temperature in the hall rose to exceed the normal fever point and brought the blood of everybody in the Rockfabrik to a boiling point; even the people gathered in the quiet zones could no longer take their seats and rose up and danced wildly to join this frenetically and energy loaded party. Hardly impressed by his fans, he promised them a small break and with ‘An deiner Seite’ he intoned another wonderful quiet but impressive ballad for a friend of him. Hundreds of fluorescent red lights lit up as his wonderful calm voice filled the hearts of any bystander and it seemed like a great lake of tears moved slowly in the dark night. The fans visibly taken by this song donated quiet but not less applause.

With their last three songs, ‘Kleine Puppe’, ‘Spielzeugmann’ and the old hit ‘Maschine’, UNHEILIG managed to heated up the mood again and again and it seemed some of their fans were standing nearby a collapse. As the last song went silent, applause swept like a hurricane through the Rockfabrik and nearly burst the eardrum of everybody. Impressed by this enthusiasm and wild and never ending energy, UNHEILIG entered the stage again and played their encore ‘Freiheit’. With this old song they played one of their absolute hit songs and opened the hearts of their fans and even heated up the still euphoric mood. But it has to come as everybody has feared this evening; with ‘Der Vorhang fällt’, UNHEILIG intoned their last song and left the stage with frenetic applause. But the fans were not ready for the end of this evening and donated them applause without end. Renewed by so much enthusiasm, joy and energy, UNHEILIG entered the stage again and finally drained the last energy reserves from their fans and themselves with their last two encores ‘Sage Ja’ and ‘Mein Stern’. The applauding storm reached unspoken highs and the Rockfabrik was filled with cheers of joy. This wonderful evening and almost perfect concert from UNHEILIG ended with this impressive applause and gave us much to dream of this night.

What should I say to this nearly perfect performance? “Der Graf” spent nearly 110% this evening and he filled the hearts of his fans with his charismatic appearance and his touching and wonderful voice. He left no doubt that he enjoys this concert himself from start on. The stage and especially the small catwalk were perfectly designed to get every facet of the band and singer. The nearly brilliant lighting added to every mood presented by the different songs and also the excellently played instruments took a great part to support the emotions floating through the concert hall. I could only say that this was one of the best and most emotional concerts from UNHEILG that I have ever seen.

Performance: 9-10
Music: 9-10
Sound: 9
Light: 10
Total: 9.5

All pictures by Ruth Gräbeldinger

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