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unheilig01EXPO Plaza, Hannover, Germany
27th May 2011
NDR Plaza Festival: Unheilig, Ich + Ich, OMD, Roland Bless

On May the 27th it was time again for a very special and already traditional event at the Expo Plaza in Hannover: The NDR Plaza Festival which started in 2001 as "EXPO Revival Party" in order to bring back and celebrate the EXPO feeling. This year, the line up presented an interesting combination of a newcomer (as soloist), a legend of the 80s and two of the most popular current German music acts. The line-up covered a nice variety of styles from co-called Schlager to Synth, Pop and Gothic(pop) but nevertheless could address a similar audience. As a result, there were 24,000 fans at the Expo Plaza - which was a new record. Not even the unsure weather situation (later on more about this) could keep them away from joining the party. And they were not disappointed by what they got.


Roland Bless

ROLAND BLESS was the former drummer and guitar player of PUR. After 20 successful years he left the band in May 2010 and is now pushing his solo career. Mid of March he released his first album ‘Zurück zu Euch’. The name of this album indicates his way back to his roots and towards a closer contact with the fans. http://www.rolandbless.de

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Music & Performance
The festival was opened at 5:30 pm by ROLAND BLESS. Roland who? Except some fans, most of the visitors might not have known ROLAND BLESS before this festival. At least not as a soloist, but maybe well as former member of PUR. The songs of his first album ‘Zurück zu Euch’ where quite similar to those of his former band PUR and with that, a little bit "out of range" compared to the three following and well known bands. But having this in mind and the fact, that it was his first time with this band, he did quite a good job. The reaction of the audience to songs like ‘Verliebt in Deine Augen’ or ‘Ich fühl mich gut’ was courteous and friendly but not enthusiastic. Maybe a little more activity on the stage could have led to a more vivid reaction. The festival site was already well crowded at this early time with nearly no rain during the 30 minutes of his performance.

Rating
Music: 5
Performance: 6
Sound: 7
Light: 6
Total: 6 / 10

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OMD

ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK - or shorter OMD - is a British band that was founded in 1978 by Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys. Already in 1978, they had their first tour in England as support for GARY NUMAN. Later on, they influenced the synth sound of the 80s to a large extend. In the early 80s, they experimented with electronic sounds, created new elements of "New Wave" and published unforgotten hits like ‘Enola Gay’, ‘Maid Of Orleans (The Waltz Of Joan Of Arc)’, ‘(Forever) Live And Die’ or ‘Sailing On The Seven Seas’. The band split up in the 1990s but luckily celebrated a reunion in 2007 followed by a tour across Europe. In autumn 2010, a new album called ‘History of Modern’ was released and reached respectable position 5 of the German album charts. http://www.omd.uk.com

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Music & Performance
After a break of about 30 minutes it was 6:30 pm when OMD entered the stage. I was really exited to see this band that had numerous hits in the 80s, for the first time live. But at the same time was I was a little bit afraid, that my picture of this 80s band might get damaged, as not every band of the 80s could take their performance into the here and now. But to come to the point, there was absolutely no reason for my worries. They presented a fantastic show with all their hits of former times and interesting recent songs. From the first notes on, Andy McCluskey performed as if he was not 52 but 25! His way of dancing is quite unique but full of energy. Like a berserk and with or without guitar he used the complete size of the stage, jumped, went down on his knees or ran around. And from the beginning the fans were there to support the band and to celebrate a party.

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But the first real highlight came up with song number four: ‘(Forever) Live and Die’. It was a step back in time and the loud chorus of the fans proofed that a lot of them knew OMD from their "first period" in the 80s. With this song, Paul Humphreys came out of the background where he was most of the time towards to the front. He did his job during the complete concert very well, but it was definitely Mr McCluskey - how he was called by Mr Humphreys - who was the one to make the show rocking. Beside the famous old songs they played a couple of new ones, like ‘Sister Mary Says’ that was announced by Andy McCluskey with: “This is a new song. But it is fantastic!” And yes, it was really good. Similar enough to the hits to be remembered as OMD song, but different enough to be no copy of successful old recipes.

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Andy had a lot of fun that afternoon and this was transferred towards the fans. Not even the quite strong rain could darken his mood. He just commented it with “It is raining, but we don’t give a f…” or “Schönes Wetter in Hannover (Nice weather in Hanover). British weather”. And then he continued to run, jump or just sit down in the front corner of the stage. And of course OMD performed all of their great hits like ‘Maid of Orleans’, ‘Enola Gay’, ‘Pandoras Box’ and ‘Sailing the seven seas’ (one of this seas could be found on the stage meanwhile). As good as it started it ended after one fantastic hour with ‘Milky Way’. At that time nearly everyone on the already well packed plaza was happy and satisfied by what was performed.

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 10
Sound: 9
Light: 8
Total: 9 / 10

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Ich + Ich

ICH + ICH is a German pop duo with an amazing success over the last years. It was founded in 2003 by former Neue Deutsche Welle star Annette Humpe (IDEAL, DÖF) and Adel Tawil. Their first album reached the top ten. The second album ‘Vom selben Stern’ was sold 1.3 million times and became the most successful German pop album up to then. The current album ‘Gute Reise’ also immediately reached the top position of the German Charts and contains numerous great songs including hits like ‘Pflaster’ and ‘Universum’. In 2010, Annette Humpe and Adel Tawil announced a creative break after the current tour, so the Plaza Festival was one of the last chances (for some time?) to see them live. http://www.ich-und-ich.de

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Music & Performance
After the British synth legend it was now a German pop band to appear on stage. But despite their different styles, there were no big movements in front of the stage. Most people remained there and this was a good choice, as Adel Tawil (the live performing Ich of ICH + ICH) was in a really good mood and his joy of performing was nearly tangible. With the first sound the audience was completely with him and started singing along. Unfortunately it started raining buckets at exactly the same time. This was no problem for the audience and even more not for the band. Only us photographers got into trouble and one bucket of water coming down from the stage’s roof killed my camera for the rest of the concert. Luckily I could get the water out of my ears and could continue to listen to Adels striking voice that can transport so much emotions without even getting close of being corny.

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The first big highlight in today's setlist was ‘Pflaster’ from the current album ‘Gute Reise’. For the delight of the fans, Adel declared that this song is not about "Hamsters" and that all rumours saying so, are definitely wrong. The set was picked with many more hits like ‘Stark’, ‘Universum’ or ‘Vom selben Stern’. But THE highlight was without doubt the strongly admired and demanded ‘So soll es bleiben’. It seemed as if all 24,000 people were singing this song together with Adel. Fantastic! The song - like some others - came along with video impressions on the big screens to the left and right of the stage. For ‘Stadt’  -normally sung in duet with CASSANDRA STEEN - he was supported by Maria Helmin who did a really good job. At the end of this concert Adel and his band went on a time trip back into the year 2005 with the great song ‘Du erinnerst mich an Liebe’. But this was not the end. With ‘Alleine tanzen’, one more song followed and unlike the title, thousands were dancing together.

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Setlist (not complete, no guarantee)
01. Einer von Zweien
02. Hilf mir
03. Mach Dein Licht an
04. Pflaster
05. Junk
06. Hallo Hallo
07. Trösten
08. Stark
09. Yasmine
10. ??
11. Universum
12. Nichts bringt mich runter
13. So soll es bleiben
14. Es tut mir leid
15. Stadt
16. Vom selben Stern
17. Du erinnerst mich an Liebe
18. Alleine tanzen

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 9
Light: 8
Total: 8.8 / 10

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Unheilig

The band has existed already since 2000 and was a popular and acknowledged band of "only" the alternative scene until 2010. But then, ‘Geboren um zu Leben’ was published and everything changed. The song became a monster hit and the corresponding album ‘Große Freiheit’ not only was sold more than 1.2 million times but was 17 weeks on the top position of the German charts, longer than any German album in history. Numerous hit singles followed and made UNHEILIG as present on TV and Media as nearly no other band. One phenomenon of UHEILIG is the ability to fascinate people of really all ages, from 6 to 60 (and older). Although UNHEILIG is a band, it is one person who is voice, face and mind of UNHEILIG and this is Der Graf. The shows of UNHEILIG are known for emotional impact and a front man who will give everything. Their sound is a striking combination of catchy melodies, hard guitar sounds, touching lyrics and the distinctive voice of Der Graf. http://www.unheilig.com

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Music & Performance
After the obligatory vintage song ‘Rote Rosen’, the set began with ‘Das Meer’ which served as intro. Along with it, the band entered the stage. And then Der Graf appeared and just like always he ran around like stung by an adder, performing his wild and ecstatic movements. The stage was decorated with the meanwhile well known red hull and candleholders. Between the songs, the screens to the left and right were used for short video clips as connectors. With "only" 90 minutes of time, some songs would have to be dismissed from the regular set of about 120 minutes. But which ones? Would it be the "harder" songs which are assigned to the style of "Neue Deutsche Härte"? No, luckily not. The set in general was a good - and well known - mixture of old songs and new hits.

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The very melodic ‘Feuerengel’ of 2008s album ‘Puppenspiel’ was the second song to be presented, followed by ‘Schenk mir ein Wunder’ of his breakthrough album ‘Große Freiheit’. One surprise was ‘Sage Ja’ which was performed as piano version. Normally, ‘Astronaut’ is used for this and - to be honest - is a bit more applicable. But at least it was a very interesting change and a successful experiment. Emotional highlight was definitely ‘An Deiner Seite’ whereas the breakthrough single ‘Geboren um zu Leben’ was the most desired and celebrated song. In the middle of the set it was time for the "harder songs", namely ‘Abwärts’ and ‘Maschine’. These songs were also used for some interaction with the fans which had to sit down or use their arms for exercises. Some visitors seemed to be a little bit surprised by that side of UNHEILIG which is definitely a little bit different to the "Goth Pop" hit singles which are played on radio all day long.

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The set and festival ended with ‘Mein Stern’ and Der Graf standing on the hull, swaying a huge flag. Looking around, there were happy faces everywhere and the common understanding that this Plaza Festival was a highlight. This year’s line up will make it difficult for 2012 to find adequate artists. The only thing not fitting into this great evening was the weather, but even that could not lead to a negative change in mood.

Setlist
01. Intro / Das Meer
02. Feuerengel
03. Schenk mir ein Wunder
04. Sternbild
05. Sage Ja (Piano-Version)
06. Halt mich
07. An deiner Seite
08. Grosse Freiheit
09. Ich gehöre mir
10. Abwärts
11. Maschine
12. Geboren um zu leben
13. Für immer
14. Unter deiner Flagge
15. Mein Stern

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 10
Sound: 9
Light: 9
Total: 9.3 / 10

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All pictures by Holger Bücker (www.malenmitlicht.info, http://www.facebook.com/MalenMitLicht)


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