12th - 14th June 2015
Blackfield Festival Day 3: Herzfeind, [X]-RX, The Beauty Of Gemina, Beborn Beton, Clan Of Xymox, End Of Green, Letzte Instanz, L'âme Immortelle, Mono Inc., Project Pitchfork
The last day of the Blackfield 2015 was also the very last day of Blackfield ever! At least at the Amphi Theatre in Gelsenkirchen, as the organizers kept open the option to re-start the festival in another location - if they can find one! If such a plan would work it is questionable, as the Amphi Theatre was a big part in the charm and the identity of the Blackfield. Anyway, the third day of this year's Blackfield saw mixed weather and a mixed bag of bands...
HERZFEIND had the pleasure to start the third day of the Blackfield Festival, although starting a gig at 11 p.m. is way too early for most people and certainly a tough challenge for any band. HERZFEIND is the brain child of André Feller, who also plays with DREADFUL SHADOWS and SOLAR FAKE, and although HERZFEIND has existed for six years already, the project is still rather underappreciated. That's quite a shame as HERZFEIND brought some fresh air to the festival's billing! Those who made it to the stage this early got to see a vivid and engaging performance. And you certainly couldn't kick off the last day of a festival more adequately than with a song titled 'Aufstehn' ("get up") and the rest of the set was a good wake-up call, as well. // http://www.facebook.com/Herzfeind / http://soundcloud.com/herzfeind // Setlist: 1. Aufstehn / 2. Botox Party / 3. Evolution Baby / 4. Links Rechts Links 5. Sing Sing / 6. Schließ die Augen / 7. Lolitasingeapparat // Rating: 7 / 10
Considering how popular some of their tracks are on the dance-floors one should think that [X]-RX would finally receive better slots at festivals by now. However, at the Blackfield the duo was billed as the second act of the final festival day anyway. Hence [X]-RX delivered some sort of morning exercises for festival goers with their dark Hardstyle Rave music which is often, quite misleadingly, labelled "Industrial". But the music genre Industrial has always been about innovation and thinking outside the box, and dated 90s Techno with some pseudo-provocative slogans and samples and added distortion certainly doesn't meet this criteria. However, the folks in front of the stage embraced the sound and took this sonic invitation for gymnastics serious by dancing along to the restless beats of [X]-RX. Of course there were those Cyber Goths doing their excessive dance routines but I got the impression that they got fewer and fewer recently. Next year it will be retro! [X]-RX's music is already retro, although their fans might disagree furiously with this. But no matter if innovative or not, [X]-RX sounds too generic and humdrum to my ears.
The occasional track might be fun but watching two guys pressing a key or knob every now and then just to turn to the audience to do the clean vocals/distorted vocals routine for over half an hour gets a bit bland, I'm afraid. // http://www.facebook.com/XRxmusic // Rating: 4 / 10
The Beauty Of Gemina
THE BEAUTY OF GEMINA delivered a highly accentuated contrast to the band before. In fact there couldn't be a more extreme opposite to the beats and noises of [X]-RX than an semi-acoustic set by the Swiss Goth Rockers. Backed up by violin and cello as extras, Michael Sele and his band stressed the "beauty" in their band's name and delivered some enchanting and dreamy 40 minutes and the enthusiasm on stage beamed down to the audience. Presenting songs from all periods of their career in unplugged versions, THE BEAUTY OF GEMINA proved a musicality that was rivalled by very few bands of the Blackfield weekend – if any! The often melancholic and dark tone of the group's songs got a little lighter in this setting, and in their stripped-down, rather Folk-ish versions the nuances of the excellent songs came across all the better. To cut a long story short: THE BEAUTY OF GEMINA delivered one of my favourite gigs at this year's Blackfield Festival! It was a pleasure to see such virtuosity and musical genius, and even the sun came out behind the clouds to give them a smile... //
http://www.thebeautyofgemina.com / http://www.facebook.com/TheBeautyOfGemina // Setlist: 1. Kingdoms of Cancer / 2. Mariannah / 3. Down by the Horses / 4. The Lonesome Death of a Goth DJ / 5. Dark Rain / 6. Suicide Landscape / 7. Badlands / 8. Last Night Home // Rating: 10 / 10
German Synth Pop trio BEBORN BETON stepped in for LEGEND, who had to cancel their gig at the Blackfield a few weeks before already. It was a rare opportunity for the fans of BEBORN BETON as in the last ten years concerts in their home country were only once in a blue moon, even though BEBORN BETON had a number of successful gigs abroad. But they swore they would only come back to Germany when they have new songs to offer, and with the new album 'A Worthy Compensation' in the pipeline they could finally fulfil their promise at the Blackfield. The attendance in front of the stage was a bit moderate but that's perhaps due to their long absence from German stage and also to the fact that their last album 'Tales from another world' dates back to 2002! At the beginning singer Stefan Netschio seemed to be a bit nervous and restrained but seeing an increasingly positive feedback from the audience he lightened up quickly. BEBORN BETON, completed by Stefan Tillmann (synthesizers, drums) and Michael B. Wagner (synthesizers), focussed on the more up-tempo, dancy club hits from their back-catalogue with some new stuff thrown in in the middle.
Unfortunately they didn't go back to edgier stuff like 'Torture' but the smooth and energetic Electro Pop of classic BEBORN BETON songs as 'Im Innern einer Frau' or 'The Colour Of Love' quickly won over the crowd. // https://www.facebook.com/bebornbeton // Setlist: 1. Intro / 2. 24/7 Mystery / 3. The Colour Of Love / 4. Another World / 5. Daisy Cutter / 6. Mantrap - A Wish Come True / 7. Ambush / 8. Im Innern Einer Frau / 9. Mantrap - The Seduction // Rating: 7 / 10
Clan Of Xymox
Ronny Moorings' CLAN OF XYMOX is a legend in the Goth scene and in fact their long history and successes, including singles in the US charts, is quite impressive. Originally hailing from the Netherlands, CLAN OF XYMOX is now based in Leipzig, where Moorings lives today. At the Blackfield they started with 'Stranger', one of their earliest hits and a signature song in their back-catalogue. Truly a great opener but unfortunately CLAN OF XYMOX's performance suffered from some technical issues. For example, the guitars sounded a bit too low and were at times even un-audible. But after all that was just a minor gripe, the charm of CLAN OF XYMOX flowered out anyway and a seven-song set crammed with classics such as 'Jasmine & Rose' or 'A Day' accounted for this. http://www.clanofxymox.com / https://www.facebook.com/pages/clan-of-xymox/111769160178 // Setlist: 1. Stranger / 2. She is falling in Love / 3. In Love we trust / 4. Emily / 5. Louise / 6. Jasmine and Rose / 7. A Day // Rating: 7 / 10
End Of Green
Before END OF GREEN entered the stage, some fans at the Blackfield got creative in a curious way: Quite a few people lay down on their floor while others painted their body shapes with white chalk on the grey concrete ground of the Amphi Theatre, which made it look like the crime scene of a mass shooting or something. Next to the drawings there were big letters saying “Wir sterben mit dir- R.I.P. Blackfield” (“We die with you – R.I.P. Blackfield”), a tribute to the very last Blackfield Festival. And a quite morbid and overly dramatic tribute, but END OF GREEN soon lifted the spirits again. Starting out in 2002 as a Gothic Metal act that first and foremost was inspired by TYPE O' NEGATIVE, they’ve developed to a more direct Gloom-Rock style not very far from ENTWINE, KATATONIA or late period SENTENCED. END OF GREEN has always been a mixed bag for me, a bit inconsistent on their albums but sitting on the upper steps of the Amphi round with a beer and a delicious filled bread from the medieval market in front of the venue their live performance was enjoyable, anyway. //
http://www.endofgreen.de / http://www.facebook.com/endofgreenofficial // Setlist: 1. Don't stop killing me / 2. Sickone / 3. Drink myself to sleep / 4. Hurter / 5. Killhoney / 6. Goodnight Insomnia / 7. Death in Veins // Rating: 6 / 10
The combination of (pseudo-)medieval music and Rock was always a favourite at the Blackfield Festival, and LETZTE INSTANZ are among the trailblazers of this genre. While I'm not the biggest fan of this style personally, I know a band like LETZTE INSTANZ can deliver quite a party at their gigs. And so they did! Neglecting the most recent album and even ignoring their very early material, the East-German band concentrated more on the popular songs from their middle period. 'Maskenball' or 'Komm!' did the trick to loosen up the atmosphere in the semicircle of the Amphi Theatre. // http://www.letzte-instanz.de / http://www.facebook.com/letzteinstanz // Setlist: 1. Flucht ins Glück / 2. Der Garten / 3. Blind / 4. Traum im Traum / 5. Maskenball / 6. Finsternis / 7. Komm! / 8. Nur für uns / 9. Von Anfang an // Rating: 6 / 10
It's been quite a while since the Austrian duo L'ÂME IMMORTELLE was a frequent billing at festivals, and although the last album ‘Drahtseilakt’ is less than one year old it has been certainly a bit more silent around Sonja Kraushofer and Thomas Rainer's mutual brainchild than in the years 2004 to 2006, when L'ÂME IMMORTELLE enjoyed chart success and even MTV airplay. In the meantime, Thomas Rainer focussed more on his EBM project NACHTMAHR, with which he achieved incongruous popularity, especially among club goers. L'ÂME IMMORTELLE mainly lives from the juxtaposition of Rainer's growls and Kraushofer's clear vocals. She undeniably has a great voice but I have always felt that her vocal prowess would suit rather Pop or even German “Schlager” than a Gothic act. But on the other hand L'ÂME IMMORTELLE is some kind of “Gothic Schlager”, their music and their lyrics are sometimes so cheesy and clichéd that it hurts. That L'ÂME IMMORTELLE seem to be so dead serious about their art makes it hurt even more. It didn't help much that Kraushofer had some problems to hit the higher notes at their Blackfield gig, and witnessing Thomas Rainer live suggests that he prefers to scream and shout since he knows quite well that he cannot sing at all. Best, or rather funniest and wierdest moment was when 'Bitterkeit' began and in the back quite a few people started to sing along the lyrics of the satirical version of the song, which has made its rounds via the internet for quite a few years.
When people wait at a gig for a piss-take you can only feel sorry for the band but on the other hand it's not too far-fetched to say that L'ÂME IMMORTELLE is in their worst moments more an unintentional parody on Goth than anything else. Sorry! // http://www.lai-music.com / http://www.facebook.com/LAI.official // Setlist: 1. Intro: L'Étang Mâlo / 2. Tiefster Winter / 3. Phönix / 4. Drown Them / 5. Eye of the Storm / 6. Fallen Angel / 7. Bitterkeit / 8. Es tut mir Leid / 9. Komm zu mir / 10. Life Will Never Be the Same Again / 11. Stumme Schreie / 12. 5 Jahre / 13. Requiem // Rating: 2 / 10
MONO INC. Seemed to be like the true headliner of the last day of the festival, although PROJECT PITCHFORK was yet to come. But the Hamburg-based band has achieved an enormous and sustained success since their breakthrough in 2011 and so it was no surprise that MONO INC. attracted the biggest crowd of the day. Success came after MONO INC. toured as a support act for UNHEILIG on their incredibly successful anniversary tour in 2010, and apparently MONO INC are bound to succeed to UNHEILIG, who already announced their break-up after a farewell tour. Some people are bold enough to call MONO INC. Gothic Rock but I swear to god that there's not one single iota of Gothic Rock in their music. Well, at least by my definitions. Lovelorn lyrics and the odd Goth stereotype doesn't make something necessarily Goth. After all MONO INC.'s offerings are just plain, old-fashioned Rock and basically there's nothing wrong about that. MONO INC. have their fine moments, like the anthemic 'Symphony Of Pain' or the powerful and oriental 'Arabia'. The opposite end of the scale is marked by the nursery rhyme nonsense of 'Heile Heile Segen' or the cheesiness of a song like 'Kein Weg zu weit', on record a duet with JOACHIM WITT. Mascara and song titles as 'Gothic Queen' aside, MONO INC are rather an everyman's Rock band, a blend of poppy hooks, heavy guitar riffs and lots of lofty moments. Again, there's nothing wrong about it but it feels wrong when it is sold as something with the prefix "gothic" or "alternative". MONO INC. are not alternative, if anything they are middle-of-the-road and when the last album ‘Terlingua’ is anything to go by, then they really aim to step into the footsteps of UNHEILIG, who became million-selling superstars in Germany when they decided to even double the cheese factor.
Singer Martin Engler seems to be a top bloke who you'd like to share a drink with, but when you have a beer with him you really should grab the chance to tell him that you actually can overdo all the crowd participation stuff, you know? He would probably answer that it simply works and that the crowds love it, and the audience at the Blackfield was qualified to prove him right. Almost everyone including upper tiers were on their feet and happy to join in to all the sing-alongs, clap-alongs and whatsoever. But MONO INC still had one cool moment up their sleeves, and this was when they put female drummer Katha Mia in the spotlight for a drum solo. Later I learned that this is already a routine at MONO INC. shows and in the end it reminded me a bit too much of the drum battle EISBRECHER does when they perform 'Amok'. Well, I enjoyed it when I was there! Can't say this about all of the show, which by the way also featured some pyrotechnics which served no other purpose then "See? We have flames, too!" (please check RAMMSTEIN for perfectly choreographed pyros) and a rather emotional farewell speech for the Blackfield. It was an honest statement but again a bit lofty. And this sums up perfectly the entire show! // http://www.mono-inc.com / https://www.facebook.com/monoinc // Setlist: 1. Arabia / 2. Symphony Of Pain / 3. Gothic Queen / 4. Never Ending Love Song / 5. Heile, Heile Segen / 6. Get Some Sleep / 7. Kein Weg zu weit / 8. Revenge / 9. Drum battle / 10. After The War / 11. Voices Of Doom / 12. Tag X // Rating: 5 / 10
Am I a die-hard PROJECT PITCHFORK fan? No. Did I once write a slating review on a PITCHFORK show in the past? Yes. My little rant years ago even prompted PITCHFORK vocalist Peter Spilles to nominate me for idiot of the year in a scene mag. Oh well! And how were PROJECT PITCHFORK at the Blackfield Festival? Awesome! From a strict musical point of view, having three drummers on stage makes no sense at all. But it looked bloody impressive! Starting with uber-hit 'Timekiller', followed by old fan fave 'Alpha Omega' set the pace for the rest of the show, and thankfully Peter Spilles had the sense to refrain from any "I wanna see your hands!"-nonsense and just did what he does best. Frankly, I had enough hyperbolic crowd interaction this weekend, I already felt as if I was witnessing an animator casting in a Club Med from hell! Spilles let the music speak for itself for the most time and still got the audience going with his mere presence. And then those three drummers! Bloody hell! Dirk Scheuber looked a bit lost behind his keyboard but this has always been one of his core competencies, in a way. Jürgen Jansen one the other hand was the cool synth wizard he always is, just doing his job in a very focussed and professional manner.
With 'Beholder', a single from 2010, and 'Blood-Stained (Give Me Your Body)' from their last album 'Blood' PROJECT PITCHFORK briefly visited their material from this decade before the swung back to their classics with 'En Garde' and 'Steelrose'. I haven't seen PICTHFORK live in a while but at the Blackfield I was astounded how good they are live these days. Maybe all the kitsch and hackneyed crowd participation rituals, the corny stage antics and all the play-safe, generic mainstream music which I had to endure at certain gigs this weekend made PROJECT PITCHFORK look (and sound) all the better. Compared to some bands before PITCHFORK were like an earth-shattering kaboom! And at least they reminded me what this scene was once all about. My only complaint is that I couldn't see the end of the show as we had to leave early. After all, the next day was a working day again! So we also missed the great finale of the last Blackfield ever at the Amphi Theatre Gelsenkirchen with all of the crew on stage to say 'Thank you and farewell' to their audience. Well, I can live with that but I seriously need to check out the next PROJECT PITCHFORK tour dates! //
http://www.project-pitchfork.eu / https://www.facebook.com/pages/Project-Pitchfork-Official/65663206412 // Setlist: 1. Timekiller / 2. Alpha Omega / 3. Beholder / 4. Blood-Stained (Give Me Your Body) / 5. En Garde! / 6. Steelrose / 7. Acid Ocean / 8. Rain / 9. Blood-Loss (Sometimes) / 10. Carnival / 11. Carrion / 12. Souls / 13. God Wrote / 14. Conjure / 15. I Am (A Thought in Slowmotion) / 16. Existence v4.1 / 17. K.N.K.A. / 18. Rescue / 19. Blood-Thirst // Rating: 9 / 10
All Pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)