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00 amphi intro D4S3758 kleinTanzbrunnen, Cologne, Germany
28th to 29th July 2018
Call the Ship to Port Opening Event with Eisfabrik, Suicide Commando and Covenant and Amphi Festival 2018 Day 1 with Intent:Outtake, The Creepshow, Future Lied to Us, [X]-RX, Kiew, La Scaltra, Unzucht, A Projection, Centhron, Aesthetic Perfection, Whispers in the Shadow, [:SITD:], Mono Inc., Funker Vogt, Soviet Soviet, OMD, Lebanon Hanover, Suicide Commando, ASP, She Past Away and Midge Ure

On July 28th, Cologne’s Tanzbrunnen opened its gates once again welcoming 12,500 Amphi fans from all around to celebrate with, all in all, 42 bands at the shores of the river Rhine. With a diverse, international line-up ranging from Synth Pop to Industrial and Post Punk to Dark Rock presenting traditional and iconic artists next to modern acts, Amphi 18 lured dark music lovers out into the sun and inside the Theater or Orbit venue.

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The latter one was aboard the familiar ship called MS RheinEnergie and, same as last year, it had to land beyond the river due to low water. Once again, the organizers offered their guests a great shuttle bus system bringing them to and from. The black clad folks who were crossing the bridge and walking there by foot also provided the locals and Cologne’s tourists with some amusement. Photos of the Amphi goers and the “Goth ship” were snapped in secret. As always our team was also looking forward to take part in the annual Amphi mania. It came as no surprise that the popular end-of-July-black-celebration would be a sell-out. We arrived early at the “dancing fountain” and listened to the sound check expecting the first act of the day.

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As a little tradition, on the evening before the festival, the “Call the Ship to Port” opening event was taking place on board of the MS RheinEnergie, offering live shows of three bands, and of course, the event was sold-out once more. The acts EISFABRIK, SUICIDE COMMANDO, and COVENANT rocked the AMPHI boat ride on the ship. Just as if the promoters of the ride had a deal with the moon, the Earth’s buddy offered a full eclipse turning into a blood moon. Many of the visitors watched the event on board of the ship before or in-between the concerts.

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The concert program started with EISFABRIK… perfect band for this hot weather. Of course, they brought their yeti with them, animating the audience. Sadly, there was no snow this time; instead, the band used white balloons. Great opening! Next band was SUICICE COMMANDO offering an energetic set as always. Singer Johan was expressive and “angry”, pushing the audience to its limits with his aggressive music and stage behaviour. SUICIDE COMMANDO as we know and love them! The concert evening on the ship was closed by our favourite Swedes COVENANT. The stage line-up on the evening consisted of Eskil Simonsson, Daniel Myer and Andreas Catjar. With lots of smoke and flickering lights, COVENANT offered an emotional, rousing show. Setlist: 01. Intro: Glasgow Session / 02. Der Leiermann (ext.) / 03. I Close My Eyes / 04. Cold Reading / 05. Rising Sun / 06. Shelter / 07. Brave New World / 08. Leviathan / 09. Ignorance & Bliss / 10. Stalker (With noise improvisation intro) / 11. Lightbringer (Daniel Myer on vocals) / 12. Call The Ships To Port / Encore: 13. Go Film / 14. Dead Stars

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If you were not tired yet, or did not get any tickets for the ship, you could celebrate late into the night at the official warm-up party at the theatre at the Tanzbrunnen.

Intent:Outtake - Main Stage (LAy)

Good morrow, Amphi! Straight at 11am, a quite big crowd gathered at the Main Stage awaiting melodic Dark Electro made in Leipzig, Germany, to sound the bell of this year’s festival. Andreas Engleitner came up with the remix project INTENT:OUTTAKE in 2011. Joined by vocalist Bastian Polak the duo then released their debut album, ‘Wake Up Call’, in 2014 reaching the top 5 of the German Alternative Charts. ‘About Halos’ followed in 2016 earning position two and bringing the newcomers to various festival stages. It was with their first single, the socio-critical ‘Neustart’ (transl. “New Start”), that they caught my attention and, therefore, I was curious about hearing INTENT:OUTTAKE for the first time at Amphi.

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As their intro resounded, the post-apocalyptic, military looking act hit the stage, appearing as if they just came out from the trenches with their torn camouflage wear and dirt on their faces. Another eye-catcher was Bastian’s microphone stand looking like a spine and being crowned by some tubes coming out of a doll’s head. It was the duo’s great sound though that immediately convinced us as they kicked off with the stomper ‘Evolution’. While their helping hands swayed some flags during the show, Andreas pushed the keys and contributed some nice backing vocals to Bastian’s harsher singing. The latter was beaming addressing the audience: “You don’t know how happy we are!” Since last year their third record, ‘Schmerzmaschine’, has been out and their Amphi crowd got to hear four pieces from it:

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Next to the German track ‘Glaube und Vernunft’, they played the amazing ‘Masks’ and the catchy ‘Eclipse’ featuring the act’s characteristic melodies; for ‘From Wolfs and Rats’ special guest Chris L. from AGONOIZE and FUNKER VOGT appeared to shout along. In between there were two slightly older songs, ‘Der Mammon’ and the calmer tune ‘Der letzte Tanz’, which Bastian sang in a heartfelt way. For the grand finale, “the last chance to dance” with INTENT:OUTTAKE it was finally time for ‘Neustart’. The boys delivered a successful Amphi opening at Cologne’s Tanzbrunnen, rousing the crowd and earning a big round of applause. Many fans congratulated Bastian when bumping into him inside the indoor venue Theater later on. INTEND:OUTTAKE are on the rise! // / // Setlist: 01. Intro / 02. Evolution / 03. Glaube und Vernunft / 04. Masks / 05. Der letzte Tanz / 06. Der Mammon / 07. Eclipse / 08. From Wolfs and Rats / 09. Neustart

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The Creepshow - Main Stage (Marko)

THE CREEPSHOW is the best-known Psychobilly band in Canada. In their lyrics, they often sing about horror movies and the monsters that occur in them. The band was founded in 2005. Over the past 12 years, they have been performing live in many parts of the world and have built up a large and constantly growing fan base and sold countless records. Millions of fans have watched their videos on YouTube and there have been many positive reviews in popular music magazines and online portals. They have already completed a successful headlining tour through Germany in the spring of this year. Four years after their last album, THE CREEPSHOW present their new studio album, ‘Death At My Door’. Also on board of the band is singer Kenda. In the past, the singers changed almost regularly on every new album. ‘Death at My Door’ is a really good album, and will not disappoint the fans. The Canadian band will thus remain pioneers in the field of Psychobilly.

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At lunchtime, THE CREEPSHOW was the second band on the main stage. The show was well attended and the mood from the beginning was good as the normally electro-strong Amphi Festival embraced other genres. By the time of the song ‘Run For Your Life’, the ice was finally broken - a fast song, where it is impossible to stand still. The German-speaking announcements from keyboardist Kristian were also very nice. The band also has a lot to offer visually - pretty singer Kenda with her short blue jeans and big red guitar, and double bass player Sean, who skilfully made elegant turns with his instrument. There was also variety on stage as the men around Kenda partly participated in the singing.

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When the audience was asked to do “Circle Pit”, the band soon realised that it does not work at every festival. This is more a matter for a completely different audience or just your own club tour. Before the song ‘Devil’s Son’, Kendra said, “If you know the song, just sing along.” Of course, the band also played some songs from the new album, such as ‘Sticks and Stones’. During the course of the concert, the cheers of the audience grew louder. At the end of the song ‘See you in hell’ Kendra sang in the space in front of the barrier. Overall, a great 45 minutes with a fascinating band. // // Setlist 01. Death At My Door / 02. Demon Lover / 03. Run For Your Life / 04. Buried Alive / 05. Sell Your Soul / 06. Zombies /07. Grave Diggers / 08. Devil’s Son / 09. Sticks & Stones / 10. See You In Hell / 11. Shake / 12. Creatures / 13. They All Fall Down / 14. Rue Morque

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Future Lied to Us - Theater Stage (Marko)

FUTURE LIED TO US is a band from the Electro and Synth Pop sector. The trio consists of musicians of the bands FROZEN PLASMA, S.I.T.D. and ROTERSAND. In February 2018 their album ‘Presence’ was released. In the run-up to the release of their debut album, the digital singles ‘Falling’ and ‘Born In Silence’ have already been released. FUTURE LIED TO US was the first band of Amphi 2018 on the Theater Stage. The band was only two today; Krischan from ROTERSAND was missing. It was very crowded in the hall, whether because of the band or because of the perfectly cooled by an air conditioning hall, I did not know in the beginning. But the mood in the hall soon indicated that many fans were here because of the band itself.

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About 15 minutes after the concert began, the hall was almost completely filled. Electronic visitor counters at the entrance and exit warned security against overcrowding in the hall, so the fans can enjoy the concerts in safety. The fans were treated to great, catchy electro with good melodies and singing. The band played almost all songs from their debut album and the audience was totally excited and euphoric. One song even reminded me of the sound of DEPECHE MODE. At the end of this celebrated performance the fans got to hear the two single releases. If you want to see and hear more about the band, you have the opportunity to join them on their tour with AND ONE. // // Setlist: 01. Suffocate / 02. Intentions And Masks / 03. Fed By Anger / 04. Drops Of Silver / 05. Lost / 06. Surrender And Pain / 07. Falling / 08. Born In Silence

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[X]-RX - Main Stage (Marko)

[X]-RX is an electronic music project from Germany. Their style is characterized by hard and continuous dance beats. They have released six albums so far. The current album is called ‘Gasoline and Fire’ and dates from 2017. The concert started with the opener of the current album, ‘Gasoline and Fire’ - ‘The Chosen Ones’. On the sides were numerous of the so-called “Industrial dancers” who had an insane endurance and danced for the entire concert, but this kind of music is made for it! There was a great cheer when the singer asked if there were [X]-RX fans in the audience. He then called out, “Make noise for us”. The mood, like the weather, was on top form. After the call to dance, more and more Industrial dancers joined in, performing this very special kind of dance.

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The band played many songs from the new album, but of course there were also songs from the albums ‘Stage 2’ and ‘Crank It Up’ on the program. A great atmosphere and an energetic 50-minute-long show on early Saturday afternoon. // / // Setlist: 01. The chosen ones / 02. Riot / 03. Kein Herz / 04. Dark Places / 05. Hard Bass Hard Soundz / 06. Code Red / 07. Gasoline And Fire / 08. Crank It Up / 09. Lightning Strike / 10. Shut The F* up And Die / 11. Stage 2 / 12. Hit The Drums

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Kiew - Theater Stage (Marko)

KIEW is a German Electro project from Lüneburg, founded in 1990. Three years later, they made their first live appearance. The last release of the band is already some years back. The likeable Electro-Industrial band made their first appearance at the Amphi Festival. The concert started with an interesting but somewhat strange sounding intro. The hall was now a bit emptier than the band before. The singer said, “Stay here because it’s so cool!” It was pretty dark on stage this time, but that suited the music very well. The band worked a lot with samples and distorted vocals. The fans obviously had fun and celebrated their favourite band. But the hall was getting emptier now; maybe the visitors wanted to secure a good place for the UNZUCHT concert on the Main Stage. Another possibility is that this kind of noise was not for everyone. Despite everything, the band delivered a good Amphi debut. // / // Setlist: 01. Nummer 3 / 02. Exit / 03. Getting Angry / 04. Therapiegespräch / 05. Zimmer 72 / 06. dcdisk / 07. All I Need / 08. Feierabend / 09. Staub / 10. Stille/Stimme

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La Scaltra - Orbit Stage (LAy)

Of course there is no better way of getting the Orbit extravaganza aboard the MS RheinEnergie started than by some extraordinary tunes. So, LA SCALTRA, creators of “Gloomy Witch Wave Rock,” were just the perfect candidates. The four-piece from Essen, Germany, consists of the main vocalist and composer Aeleth Kaven, keyboardist Dae Widow, who also contributes to the Wave vocals, guitarist Jay Sharpe, and bassist Saeda Moreau. They started to come together in 2015 and released their self-produced debut, ‘Cabaret’, in 2016. Their motto: “Find beauty in darkness!”

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The band got started with the lurking, quiet and minimalist tune ‘The Garden’, the first of their EP ‘Ghosts’, which came out 2016 via Berlin-based label Solar Lodge. “The garden is calling you,” they sang inviting their interested audience into their beautifully dark dream world. The alluring LA SCALTRA showed us that they don’t just have the look, but are also are a wonderful live band. The second song, ‘Devil’s Playground’, proved that we would get to enjoy some great guitars and wonderfully prominent bass lines around two pleasant and perfectly harmonizing vocals. There are also the synths and the beats of the drum machine and LA SCALTRA entwine it all into a musical whole presenting their very own dark brew of New Wave and Post Punk quite successfully. While they were looking somewhat gravely in the beginning and/or being simply lost in their magical music as much as the audience probably was, Aeleth exchanged some happy smiles with Dae and Jay as the gig went on.

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After presenting their brand new tune, ‘The Spell’, LA SCALTRA closed their overall dreamy and mysterious Gloom Goth set with the awesome composition ‘Nightmares’, a ghostly and captivating song about lucid dreaming that slightly reminded one of SWITCHBLADE SYMPHONY at the moment. I’m pretty sure, LA SCALTRA found some new fans at Amphi who shouldn’t miss them at the “Solar Lodge Convention” on 10th November in Bochum when the band will be sharing the stage with their label brothers and sisters YOUR LIFE ON HOLD, AEON SABLE, and MERCIFUL NUNS. // / // Setlist: 01. The Garden / 02. Devil’s Playground / 03. Chained Hysteria / 04. Visions of Glass / 05. The Cat Lady / 06. Holidays / 07. The Spell / 08. Nightmares

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Unzucht - Main Stage (Judith)

UNZUCHT come from Hanover, Germany. Founded in 2009 and consisting of Daniel Schulz (vocals), Daniel De Clercq (guitar, vocals), Alex Blaschke (bass) and Tobi Fuhrmann (drums), they fuse together Goth Rock, Melodic Metal and Electronica. They have just released their fifth studio album, ‘Akephalos’. Around me in the crowd were some very excited fans, shouting for the band long before they took to the main stage punctually at 14:50. The main stage area was pretty full as the band musicians came onstage and they were greeted very warmly by the enthusiastic crowd. Then singer Daniel Schulz appeared to huge roars – as he explained to us this is the first live gig since the release of their new album and it has been a while since they have played Amphi.

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And boy did they play Amphi! With great sound at their disposal they roared through a crowd pleasing set, with crunching, heavy guitars and melodic, hook-filled metal lifting up everyone in the audience - even a sudden rain shower in the middle couldn’t dampen this great performance. As a front man, Schulz is effortless on a big stage - and his huge grin throughout the show displayed that he was enjoying it as much as we were. // / // Setlist: 01. Widerstand / 02. Lava / 03. Engel der Vernichtung / 04. Unzucht / 05. Nur die halbe Wahrheit / 06. Kleine geile Nonne / 07. Ein Wort fliegt wie ein Stein / 08. Nur die Ewigkeit / 09. Deine Zeit läuft ab

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A Projection - Orbit Stage (Marko)

The band A PROJECTION was founded in 2013. They come from Stockholm in Sweden. Their current album was released in 2017 and is called ‘Framework’. Currently, the band is working on their third album. The band is currently no longer on tour, but this year has already made several appearances in Germany. Thus, the appearance at the Amphi Festival is currently a pretty exclusive thing and they were invited to play on the Orbit Stage. This stage was on board the ship MS RheinEnergie. The location was well filled, and like the Theater Stage cooled by air conditioning to comfortable temperature. These were the best conditions for the band and the fans. The audience was greeted by the Swedes in German: “Amphi, how are you?”.

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The singer had some mega cool moves on the stage, and you could see how he sinks into his songs. The band played songs from their previous albums, but of course they also brought a brand new one, ‘Bridges Fall’. Music this good spreads a great atmosphere, and the singer was even on his back at the end of the song and sang the rest lying down. One of my highlights at this year’s Amphi unfortunately came to an end too fast. Great Wave and Post Punk music à la THE CURE. I’m looking forward to the new album and hope for an extensive tour. // / // Setlist: 01. Exit / 02. Dark City / 03. Transition / 04. I’m Not Here / 05. Bridges Fall / 06. For Another Day / 07. The Laughing Garden / 08. Scattered / 09. No Light / 10. Hands / 11. Young Days

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Centhron - Theater Stage (Dani)

Back to the Theater Stage for some harsh electronic music with CENTHRON, being announced by presenter Dr. Mark Benecke as “Gewitter des Grauens” (transl. “Thunderstorm of horror”). Usually on stage with Elmar Schmidt (vocals), Markus Vogler (bass) and Anette Schmidt (synths), Sandra was replaced by Astharat Proditor for the Amphi show. The trademarks of the German act are Harsh Electro and Aggro Tech, meaning pure aggression and stomping beats, just the announced thunderstorm of horror, which Benecke enjoyed from the pit during the show. The band started off at full tilt and didn’t let the energy level drop a single bit for the rest of their gig.

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A huge crowd had gathered at the theatre to enjoy the gig and people were grateful for this sonic attack. But after all, CENTHRON is little more than old-fashioned 90s Techno crushed by noisy distortion and garnished with furious shouts. Still, people enjoyed the show! // / // Setlist: 01. Einheit C / 02. Skullfucker / 03. Fuck Off and Die / 04. Pornoqueen / 05. Dreckstück / 06. Blitzkrieg / 07. Allvater / 08. Asgard / 09. Deutsches Land / 10. Cunt / 11. 666 / 12. Hetzer

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Aesthetic Perfection - Main Stage (LAy)

AESTHETIC PERFECTION fans were more than happy to welcome back Los Angeles based Industrial Pop super group around Mr. Daniel Graves. Two years ago, they raised the roof of the Theater Stage. This year, shortly after 4 pm, the Main Stage was the place to be for AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s ever-growing fan base. Vocalist, musician, and DJ Daniel Graves created his electro project back in 2000. “Perform[ing] in front of thousands of people at Amphi Festival in Germany, [is] something I only dreamt of as a kid,” Daniel wrote on AE’s social media after the festival. And we seriously cannot imagine the electro scene without him anymore.

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As expected, their show was a huge party from the first to the last song. Daniel appeared on stage beaming and grinning and, as always, engaging with the cheerful crowd and the photographers in the pit. He was wearing sunglasses, a fancy hat, and a black shirt covered by reddish flowers that fit his colourful butterfly tattoo on his throat. Elliot put on a clown make-up and seemed to have mastered his athletic keyboard climbing. He even jumped up high before coming down again from his instrument and then engaged in heavy head banging. Since Tim Van Horn had left the band, COMBICHRIST drummer Joe Letz was greeted with applause. Joe did not only impress us with his sick look - long blond wig, mini dress, breasts, red contacts, long fake lashes beneath the eyes, lipstick, and bloody bandages covering up a nose job - but most importantly with his insane drumming skills. The trio delivered a killer gig full of energetic smashers making the audience move their bodies. “Rhythm takes control!”

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Thanks to AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s catchy melodies, infectious beats, the great sound and stellar singing and screaming, and the overall uplifting mood everybody seemed to have a blast at the Main Stage. Next to floor filler, ‘Antibody’ and the beloved ‘Never Enough’, AESTHETIC PERFECTION also geared down when presenting their “interesting” cover: ‘Bye Bye Bye’ originally by the boy band NSYNC. I guess I’m not the only one enjoying the successful transformation of the “Song of the Summer 2000” into an atmospheric and powerful Industrial Pop ballad. Another new tune, the poppy ‘Ebb and Flow’, was also celebrated greatly. With ‘Spit it out’ from ‘A Violent Emotion’ (2008), Graves & Co. closed their set with a bang. AESTHETIC PERFECTION - clearly one of Amphi18’s highlights! // / // Setlist: 01. A Nice Place To Visit / 02. The Great Depression / 03. Inhuman / 04. Rhythm + Control / 05. Antibody / 06. Ebb and Flow / 07. Bye Bye Bye / 08. Never Enough / 09. Love Like Lies / 10. LAX / 11. The Dark Half / 12. Spit It Out

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Whispers In the Shadow - Orbit Stage (Judith)

WHISPERS IN THE SHADOW were founded in 1996 originally as a solo project by singer and guitarist Ashley Dayour. Dayour’s history includes work with L’ÂME IMMORTELLE and until recently was very active with his other projects, The Devil & The Universe and NEAR EARTH ORBIT. WHISPERS IN THE SHADOW have just released their new, well received album, ‘The Urgency of Now’. The band returned again to the Amphi Festival, two years since their last visit and 20 years since they won the Newcomer award, as was announced as the 5-piece band took to the Orbit Stage, on the MS RheinEnergie. The crowd was relatively small but extremely devoted and welcomed them back to the festival with warm applause.

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The festival goers who hadn’t made the trip over to the Orbit Stage really made a mistake, as for the next 40 minutes we were treated to something extra special. Beautiful, haunting dark melodies, emotional lyrics and soul-stirring guitar, with deep, heart thumping bass and passionate, thundering drums, accompanied by Davour’s soulful, and at times, eerie voice. For me, and for others around me, it was one of the highlights of the whole festival, I just wish they could have played longer. // // Setlist: 01. A Rhythm Called Zero / 02. The Urgency Of Now / 03. Morning Fall / 04. If Uriel Falls / 05. The Lost Souls / 06. A Song For The Radio / 07. The Rat King / 08. Detractors / 09. Back To The Wound / 10. Damned Nation / 11. Exit-Garden

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[:SITD:] - Theater Stage (LAy)

Leaving the Main Stage field after the show of AESTHETIC PERFECTION the first thing one saw was an incredibly long line of people waiting and hoping to get inside the already jam-packed Theater. No wonder. SHADOWS IN THE DARK, short [:SITD:], one of Germany’s most influential Dark Electro acts, were already gracing the stage. Two years ago they celebrated their 20th band anniversary. Their latest album, ‘TRAUMA:RITUAL’ (2017), is their seventh opus and deservedly reached the top of the German Alternative Charts. Coming from Germany’s industrial Ruhr-Area, a darkly melodic yet energetic sound simply is in these guys’ blood. Carsten Jacek at the microphone, Tom Lesczenski and Frank D’Angelo, both at the keys, were celebrating are sinister and beat-laden, dark and dynamic party earning big rounds of applause after every song.

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Their show was not only making their entire Amphi audience just move - thanks to their meaningful lyrics, [:SITD:] were also though-provoking. Amongst others, classic favourites like ‘Atemlos’ and ‘Richtfest’ and the new pearls ‘Genesis’ and ‘Cicatrix’ made for an overall amazing set. And with their massive club hit ‘snuff machinery’ from their debut ‘Snuff EP’!, the [:SITD:] party was over again way too soon. The next chance to hear [:SITD:] live in Germany will be at the Autumn Moon Festival on 13th October in Hameln and the “Trick of Treat” Halloween show at the Kulttempel in Oberhausen (31st October). See you then! // / // Setlist: 01. Rot (incl. intro) / 02. Genesis / 03. Kreuzgang / 04. Lebensborn / 05. Cicatrix / 06. Laughingstock / 07. Atemlos / 08. Richtfest / 09. Snuff Machinery

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Mono Inc. - Main Stage (LAy)

MONO INC… Do vocalist Martin Engler, bassist Manuel Antoni, guitarist Carl Fornia, and drum lady Katha Mia need an introduction? One must have been living under a rock for not knowing the Alternative Dark Rockers from Hamburg. The have been around since 2000 and their 10th piece, titled ‘Welcome to Hell’, has been just released. MONO INC.’s following is as devoted as it gets and the band may be considered a regular guest at various festivals. They are not only great musicians, but also always manage to carry their audience. Two years ago, MONO Inc. ended their Amphi show with their classic ‘Voices of Doom’. This time, it was the opener. Vocalist Martin thanked the crowd for their warm welcome and then, it was time for their new tune ‘Welcome to Hell’. On the whole, MONO Inc. delivered yet another successful show since their fans got to enjoy many of their favourites such as ‘Gothic Queen’, ‘Arabia’ and ‘After the War.’

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Needless to say, their “drum battle” was not to be missed. While most people seemed to have a great time as always, some might be wondering about new sparks, some progress for the band’s future performances to shake things up a bit, even though it might be certain that MONO INC. die-hards will never get bored. ‘Children of the Dark’ was the final song for that day and made the audience sing along “Ahhhh ahhh ahh...”. It was impressive how Katha Mia’s always manages to keep up her high-pitched vocals while hitting the drums. The MONO maniacs cheered and shouted for an encore, but the stage needed to be prepared for the next act. // / // Setlist: 01. Voices of Doom / 02. Welcome to Hell / 03. Get Some Sleep / 04. Heile, Heile Segen / 05. Symphony of Pain / 06. Gothic Queen / 07. Arabia / 08. The Banks of Eden / 09. Drum Battle / 10. After the War / 11. Children of the Dark

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Funker Vogt - Theater Stage (LAy)

Due to time issues, I just took a quick peek inside the Theater. FUNKER VOGT, meaning Chris L., Gerrit Thomas and René Dornbusch, were up next to tear down the venue. Currently, their fans are expecting a new album, titled ‘Wastelands’, to come out in September. Friends of the brute Aggrotech sound joined in the military act’s wickedly loud rage. Those close enough to the stage probably got to witness a show including a death-chair. I however, couldn’t get close enough, and had hurry back to the Main Stage after a couple songs anyways. From the back rows, one could enjoy FUNKER VOGT’s cool laser and light show, though. // /

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Soviet Soviet - Orbit Stage (Judith)

SOVIET SOVIET was founded in Italy 2008 by Alessandro Costantini on guitar, Alessandro Ferri on drums and Andrea Giometti on bass and vocals. They are an Alternative Rock inspired by New Wave and Italian Post Punk and have released four studio albums, the most recent, ‘Endless’, in 2016. With no preamble or introduction, SOVIET SOVIET shambled onto the Orbit stage looking like a bunch of lost tourists. They then proceeded to blow any negative first impressions away with a blistering set of squally guitar and extreme bass sounds.

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This unassuming three piece band created a wall of sound that soon had the group of hard-core fans in the audience singing along lustily and dancing and jumping. What singer/ bassist Giometti lacks in stature he makes up for in enthusiasm and bounce - climbing on the monitors and attacking his poor instrument like he is wrestling with a live snake. An eye-opening/ ear-bursting set from the Italians. // / // Setlist: 01. Endless Beauty / 02.1990 / 03. Remember now / 04. Fairy tale / 05. Ecstasy / 06. Rainbow / 07. Introspective trip / 08. No lesson / 09. Surf a palm / 10. Pantomime

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OMD - Main Stage (LAy)

Not only co-presenter Jens Domgörgen was thrilled to the bits to see “the heroes of his childhood” live at Amphi: ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVERS IN THE DARK! Obviously, the unique OMD enriched the Amphi line-up wonderfully. OMD are one of the pioneers of Synth Pop. It was back in 1978 when founding members Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys started to experiment in the realms of electronic music being inspired by German bands such as KRAFTWERK. And last year, their 13th opus, ‘The Punishment of Luxury’ (2017), finally saw the light of day following ‘English Electric’ (2013). The front man’s question, “We’re not so much Gothic, but a bit of English Electro, OK?!” was answered with cheers. The quartet swept us right off our feet with the opening song, their 1980 anti-war song ‘Enola Gay’. Vocalist Andy also played bass while Paul Humphreys and Martin Cooper got behind their keyboards and Stuart Kershaw behinds the drums.

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The crowd immediately started to sing along the well-known synth riff and clapped along. A man standing next to me was beyond happy to hear OMD and so he actually shrieked whenever he felt like it and laughed out loud seeing Andy dance and jump across the stage. One could clearly see the joy of playing on stage and the fans were blissful and thankful. The reaction of the Amphi crowd after this opener was stunning as the first hurricane of applause seemed like it would go on and on. The frontman shook his head in disbelief and there were hearty laughs also on stage. What followed was an hour filled with nostalgia, immortal melodies, singing and clapping along, swaying to the music, and rapturous applause after every single song. In between, OMD also presented their latest title track ‘The Punishment of Luxury’. Andy entertained us with self-ironic comments.

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When he put away the bass, because his playing skills are supposed to be actually “scheiße” (German for “shitty”), he announced that there would be some of his “beschissen” (tranls. “crappy”) dancing then. During the intro of ‘Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans)’ he dynamically waved about his arms into all directions along to the drum beats. During the final song, the sweet tune ‘Electricity’, a fan even crawled on stage for a happy dance. All in all, OMD delivered a truly grand and good-humoured show with a stellar sound. Oh my goodness, oh my Goth, OMD! // / // Setlist: 01. Enola Gay / 02. Messages / 03. History of Modern (Part 1) / 04. (Forever) Live & Die / 05. If You Leave / 06. Souvenir / 07. Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans) / 08. Talking Loud & Clear / 09. The Punishment of Luxury / 10. Dreaming / 11. Pandora’s Box / 12. Sailing On The Seven Seas / 13. Electricity

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Lebanon Hanover - Orbit Stage (Judith)

Swiss Larissa Iceglass and Brit William Maybelline founded Lebanon Hanover in 2010 after meeting each other in Maybelline’s hometown of Sunderland, UK. Their style may be considered minimalistic Dark Wave and inspired by the Post Punk music of the 1980s. They have released five albums, the most recent, 2018’s ‘Let Them Be Alien’. Dry ice, the X-Files theme tune and green light bathing the stage announced the arrival onstage of singer/ guitarist Larissa Iceglass and bass/ vocals William Maybelline. Finally some female energy on this Amphi stage!

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Being new to this band I had no expectations and I was soon caught up in their clean, precise beats, almost 50s-style guitar and haunting, melancholic lyrics. Iceglass’ clear, voice and Maybelline’s deeper tones complimented each other perfectly. The Orbit Stage theatre became almost full for their set and the audience received every song in this 55 minute set with enthusiastic applause. // / // Setlist: 01. Alien / 02. Die world 2 / 03. A very good life / 04. Favorite Black Cat / 05. No one holds hands / 06. Northern Lights / 07. Hall of Ice / 08. Ice cave / 09. Petals / 10. Gallowdance / 11. Totally Tot

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Suicide Commando - Theater Stage (LAy)

SUICIDE COMMANDO filled in for ASSEMBLAGE 23 who, unfortunately, couldn’t make it to Amphi due to “issues with Customs & Immigration.” Such a shame since a lot of people have been looking forward to seeing the Seattle-based act around Tom Shear. Back to Belgian project: Mastermind Johan van Roy formed SUICIDE COMMANDO in 1986 and his work, like this year’s Amphi gig proved again, is not for the faint-hearted. During their second appearance at the festival (after they rocked the ship on the day before), the band presented a vintage set with Johan on vocals on Torben on keys only.

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With their psychotic shouts, hard beats, and dark sound spaces, the Hellectro pioneers took their fans on an infernal trip exploring the dark side of humanity. In their exclusive “vintage set”, they only presented their old school pieces. For many it was a wicked walk down memory lane and the combo convinced folks going without backdrops or screens letting their over 20-year-old music speak/scream for itself. // /

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ASP - Main Stage (Marko)

The exceptional band ASP was once again visiting the Amphi Festival in Cologne. The fan-base of the band is now huge. In the past, more than ten of their albums have made it into the top 10 of the charts. In October 2018, they will once again move through the clubs of the country with their tour “Zauberbruder - Der Krabat Liederzyklus”. As headliner of the first festival day, ASP entered the stage at 8:40 p.m. The concert started with a loud bang and singer Alexander entered with his lantern in his hand. A totally cheerful band played in front of a location filled to the brim. The mood was overwhelmingly positive throughout the concert.

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Great pyrotechnics and other effects were displayed during the lavishly designed show. Partly the smell of a New Year’s Eve was in the air! It was really easy for this likeable band to carry the euphoric audience along with them. Pillars of smoke often rose up between the musicians, which looked especially great from the back rows. Singer Alexander repeatedly mentioned how beautiful the people looked in the audience. He asked “How did you do that with this make-up in the heat? [...] Were you secretly back in the hotel and making yourself up nice and fresh?” The audience was invited to sing along to the song ‘Astoria Verfallen’. Meanwhile, Alexander was walking back and forth on stage, checking to see if everyone was really joining in. And I actually think everyone who knew the words was involved in singing along.

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Alexander said he also wanted to see the performance of MIDGE URE, which also was taking place in the Theater Stage. But he added that it is more beautiful here with his fans. “Be loud enough for MIDGE URE to hear you,” he added. And the audience was very loud, it felt almost like being in the fan club stands of the Cologne football club. Of course, the set of the evening also included the big hits ‘Und Wir Tanzten’ and ‘Wechselbalg’. The pillars of fire that rose on the song ‘Ich Will Brennen’ (transl: “I Want to Burn”) were felt at least as far back as the 20th row. A grandiose performance and a worthy conclusion of the first festival day on the Main Stage. // /

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She Past Away - Orbit Stage (Judith)

SHE PAST AWAY is a Turkish Post Punk band, formed in Bursa in 2006 by singer and guitarist Volkan Caner and bass guitarist İdris Akbulut. The band is known for their dark wave musical style with post-punk Gothic roots. They have released two full studio albums, the most recent, ‘Narin Yalnızlık’ in 2015, and a compilation, ‘I - II’, in 2016. The Orbit Stage venue was almost completely full downstairs as well as on the wrap-around balcony upstairs, everyone eagerly waiting for this anticipated arrival of the band. The stage was bathed in atmospheric blue light and smoke, adding to the theatrical experience.

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SHE PAST AWAY are definitely not the norm - a Goth rock band singing in Turkish - but their ever growing success speaks of their wide appeal. I had never seen them live before and initially I was transported by their melodic electronic beats. They kicked off their performance with ‘Belirdi Gece’ and then ‘Sanrı’, with singer and guitarist Volkan Caner on the right side of the small stage and producer Doruk Öztürkcan on the left behind a wall of synths and computers. The crowd was obviously extremely happy to be there and applauded loudly for each song, but the music doesn’t lend itself to wild dancing and cheering.

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Their music, whilst hypnotic and well performed, did become slightly monotonous to me and my attention wandered. However, happily I was in the minority and the people around me were intensely enjoying the synth driven rhythms. Overall SHE PAST AWAY delivered a solid set which pleased their many fans. // / // Setlist: 01. Belirdi Gece / 02. Sanri / 03. Monoton / 04. Katarsis / 05. New song / 06. Soluk / 07. Ruh / 08. Asimilasyon / 09. New song / 10. Kasvetli Kutlama / 11. Ritüel / 12. New song / 13. Insanlar / 14. Bozbulanik / Encore: 15. Hayaller

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Midge Ure - Theater Stage (Dani)

The eagerly-awaited headliner inside the Theater was Scottish singer-songwriter and producer James “Midge” Ure, the voice of ULTRAVOX. In the 70s and 80s, Mr. Ure was also involved with the bands SLIK, VISAGE, and RICH KIDS and THIN LIZZY. There might be people around who don’t know that he co-wrote and produced the Band Aid charity hit single ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ back in 1984 - but there are doubts that everybody knows the tune itself. End of last year, the ‘Orchestrated’ album came out featuring orchestrated versions of ULTRAVOX tunes and songs of his solo career including the new song ‘Ordinary Man’.

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The Theatre stage was not as packed as I wished for this legend, since ASP were playing parallel on the main stage. But still, MIDGE URE was besides OMD my personal highlight of the festival with a great setlist, dancing, singing and lots of memories in my head. Fir the Amphi show, MIDGE URE presented a show with his full band, starting with ‘Call of the Wild’. In the course of the set, he offered a lot of ULTRAVOX classics much to the delight of the audience. Compared with his acoustic performance, the presented songs had much more power with a full band of course. Especially the ULTRAVOX songs were completely reworked. In their original versions they are based on electronic and synth sounds. Now, they were guitar-driven and included several guitar solo parts played by Midge. But still, there were of course the additional piano sounds.

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The set also included the VISAGE classic ‘Fade to Grey’, which was written by MIDGE URE. After the wonderful solo song ‘Breathe’, the set’ highlight were four ULTRAVOX gems anyone knows, starting with amazing ‘Vienna’, followed by ‘The Voice’ and ‘Hymn’… a Goose-bump moment when the audience was singing along loudly. The show found an end with ‘Dancing With Tears in My Eyes’, always one of my highlights and also today I was really touched by this song. We experienced a wonderful and amazing concert and still I have the “sound of the voice” in my head… // / // Setlist: 01. Call of the Wild / 02. Love’s Great Adventure (Ultravox song) / 03. If I Was / 04. I Remember (Death in the Afternoon) (Ultravox song) / 05. All Stood Still (Ultravox song) / 06. Fade to Grey (Visage song) / 07. Passing Strangers (Ultravox song) / 08. Breathe / 09. Vienna (Ultravox song) / 10. The Voice (Ultravox song) / 11. Hymn (Ultravox song) / 12. Dancing With Tears in My Eyes (Ultravox song)

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If you still did not have enough… and since it was still quite early in the evening… you could celebrate longer at the after-show party with famous Goth DJs.

All pictures by Daniela Vorndran ( / except La Scaltra by Roger Op Den Camp, ASP by Matthias Irrgang, She Past Away by LAy, and A Projection, Lebanon Hanover, Whispers In The Shadow and Soviet Soviet by Marko Jakob

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