4th to 6th July 2008
Blackfield Festival Day 1: Pink Turns Blue, Stromkern, Icon of Coil, Dreadful Shadows, Blutengel
The first Blackfield Festival from 4th to 6th July 2008 fused different styles of the scene in a unique live concept. The festival offered well-known international stars like NITZER EBB, LACRIMOSA or SUBWAY TO SALLY as well as popular dance-floor acts like SPETSNAZ or REAPER and many others. The first day started at early evening with PINK TURNS BLUE.
When we left for the festival, we were quite worried about the weather; it was raining nearly the whole ride. Just when we arrived, the last drops were falling and it stayed dry for the whole evening. Together with a black crowd we entered the beautiful location of the amphitheatre where you had a perfect view onto the stage from every point. Entrance and anything went very smooth, the security was really friendly and helpful, and so, we took our places in front of stage very relaxed. Sharp on half past five, the festival was going to start with the opener… http://www.blackfield-festival.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/blackfieldfestival [DV]
Pink Turns Blue [Niggels]
The story of PINK TURNS BLUE began back in 1985, when Thomas Elbern and Mic Jogwer due to an advertisement of Thomas, who was looking for fellow musicians. Mic answered and soon the two had some minor performances under the name PINK TURNS BLUE. The original sound moulded influences the early THE CURE, THE CHAMELEONS or THE SOUND to an own style. Four albums have been released between 1987 and 1991. The first two albums ‘If two World kiss’ and ‘Meta’ celebrated the CURE-esque sound to the max. The following two ‘Eremite’ (1990) and ‘Aerdt’ (1991) moved far away from that sound. ‘Eremite’ was full of more experimental, partly atonal tracks and ‘Aerdt’ was the probably most reduced album in the band’s history, what caused irritations, because there were neither real songs nor guitars on it. The band moved to London and released the two less successful albums ‘Sonic Dust’ and ‘Perfect Sex’ and called it quits in 1995. In 2003, they suddenly re-appeared on the Wave Gotik Treffen. The audience was so enthusiastic that the band decided to re-unite. Since then they’ve released two albums ‘Phoenix’ (2005) and ‘Ghost’ (2007) which return to the dark-melancholic style of their early days. PINK TURNS BLUE is: Mic Jogwer – (vocals / Guitar), Brigid Anderson (keys / voices), Reini Walter (bass), Ruebi Walter (guitar), Andreas Plappert (drums) and Marcus Giltjes (samples / artwork / videos). http://www.pinkturnsblue.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/pinkturnsblue
Music & Performance
When we arrived at the location of the Blackfield festival we could hear PINK TURNS BLUE doing their sound check already. This surely raised anticipation, and although we knew that it’s always a difficult task to be the opening act of a three-day festival we hoped for a great gig by the German Wave-Rock legend. It was a little strange that a band with such a long history was only granted a short 30-minute set but nevertheless we looked forward to PINK TURNS BLUE, and hearing the sound check of course boosted that. Unfortunately all the disadvantages of opening such a long festival came into effect. As expected, there were not too many fans in front of the stage. But what was really disappointing was that the sound was rather bad and the volume was pretty low. I wonder why the technicians didn’t turn up the music a bit more, as it surely cannot be too much of a problem (in regard to restrictions) in the afternoon when the PA blasted at maximum later in the night.
And the performance by the band? Well, there’s not much too complain about, they made the best of it and so many years of experiences in performing live showed through. There was only one downer in the set, performance-wise, and this was of all things PINK TURNS BLUE’s classic and greatest hit ‘Michelle’. This song sounded pretty lifeless and spiritless, and one wondered what was wrong with the band during this song. Rumours say that especially vocalist Mic Jogwer is less than happy to perform this track over and over again – and surprise, surprise, the next song in the set sounded sharp and powerful again. The short set concentrated on the most recent album ‘Ghost’, which received some raving reviews in the German music press, but also included some more classics like the wonderful ‘Walking On Both Sides’ and ‘Missing You’. With the difficult circumstances in mind, PINK TURNS BLUE did still a great job, and I for one forgive them messing up ‘Michelle’ a bit.
Light: - (daylight)
J. Ned Kirby founded the project in the early 1990s. The debut album, however, was released in 1997. ‘Flicker like a Candle’ - so the title - was heavily influenced by European electronic dance music, but also the classic and hip-hop have already been audible at this early stage. 1999 saw the release of the second album ‘Dämmerung im Traum’ which didn’t continue that style but blended orchestral arrangements with minimal techno elements. In 2001, the band hit the road for an extensive European club tour after which Ned returned to the studio, this time joined by Kelly Schäffer to record the third album ‘Armageddon’. Three singles have been taken from the album all of which stayed in the German Alternative Charts for the maximum time. In 2005, the band released their fourth studio album ‘Light it up’ on the now defunct label Dependent records. The sound of the album is marked by acoustic drums as well as wailing guitar riffs and includes collaborations with Frank Spinath (SEABOUND / EDGE OF DAWN) and Victoria Lloyd on the ballad ‘Hindsight’. Right now, the band is working on new material. STROMKERN is: J. Ned Kirby, Dan Clark, Andrew Sega, and Matt Berger. http://www.stromkern.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/stromkern
Music & Performance
I was really looking forward to finally see that band live, because they don’t have been here in Germany for quite a while now and even more I was wondering about how the crowd would react on this admittedly unusual mixture of Industrial with rock and the hip-hop style vocals of Ned Kirby. Honestly, the reaction was just how I expected with many irritated faces all around and the overall mood was pretty reluctant. As for me, I got hooked by the show instantly. As soon as the band entered the stage, there was this strong energy flow all around. The guys were very tastefully dressed, and that reminded me of COVENANT, in suits, black suits, well it looked nice. They were keeping up the energy through the whole show. Ned moved from one corner to another, played the bass and the guitarist on the left really freaked out like a true rocker and it was just fun to watch that.
When the first tones of ‘Forgiven’ from the last album ‘Light it up’ arose, I was totally surprised, because I hoped so much to hear this great emotional song live and I hoped for a great drum solo at the end of the track and it kicked even better than I expected (big credits to the live drummer by the way, who did an awesome job). When Ned announced ‘Heretic’ the probably most famous STROMKERN track, the audience was like transformed and started to sing, scream and clap their hands all of a sudden. After two additional songs, including the pushing ‘Stand up’ with its whipping staccato lyrics, 40 minutes full of energy, rock and industrial with an extraordinary well-tempered band had passed way too fast. I can only hope that it won’t take another couple of years until we see that great band on a German stage again
01. Night Riders
05. Heretic II
06. Stand Up
Light: - (daylight)
Icon of Coil [Niggels]
In 1997 Andy La Plegua established the project, ICON OF COIL, which was primarily a concept built around a logo, graphic design and music. Andy was already involved in music before as a singer of the Metal / Hardcore band MY RIGHT CHOICE. When it became clear that music would be the most important part of that concept, Andy asked his friend Sebastian Komor to help him out as live member, but after the release of the first single ‘Shallow Nation’ in 2000, Seb became a fixed member. Surprisingly, the single was sold-out after a couple of weeks and as a result they got signed to the Norwegian Label Tatra Records, which also released their first album ‘Serenity is the Devil’ in 2001. A tour followed after the album was released in North America by Metropolis Records, during which the band found the time to write material for the second album ‘The Soul is in the Software’, released in 2002. The third and to this date last genuine ICON OF COIL album, carries the title ‘Machines are Us’ and saw the light of day in 2004. ICON OF COIL is: Andy La Plegua (vocals & programming), Sebastian Komor (keys & programming) and Christian Lund (keys). http://www.iconofcoil.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/officialiconofcoil
Music & Performance
A playback started, and the three protagonists of ICON OF COIL entered the stage. The playback continued (at a nice loud volume, I may add) and the first thing our three friends did was starting to dance and cheering up the audience a bit. ICON OF COIL may be hit or miss on record in some opinions, but on stage it’s only hit hit hit! There’s simply a lot of power to it when you see the guys in front of you, and especially front man Andy La Plegua has a punk-ish in-yer-face attitude which provokes the audience to take part in this wild party-attack. And La Plegua simply doesn’t stop moving during the entire show - I pity all photographers who try to take a snapshoot of him! He’s simply to fast! *g* The musical performance itself was somewhat minimal - the started playback, and the rest of the set left the impression that the parts played actually live were a little limited, to say the least. Not that ICON OF COIL tried to hide that - their attitude was rather “Hey, more time to party then!”
And the crowd in front of the stage got infected by this party feel - dancing people all around the place! ICON OF COIL’s techno beats were simply too irresistible in combination with such a celebratory, high-spirited feel on stage. Apparently people at the backstage area got in party mood too - a good sign for this was Ronan Harris and Mark Jackson (of VNV NATION fame) entering the stage to serve drinks - yes, to serve drinks! A very thoughtful and kind gesture towards their colleagues - and perhaps the plan was also to prevent Sebastian Komor leaving the stage during a song to get a fresh beer! *g* Yes, this was a nice little party indeed! A pity that ICON OF COIL did not play a few more songs - I for one missed ‘Situations like These’ a little - but then everyone knows that the playing time is limited at festivals. However, we all had to thank ICON OF COIL for this fabulous warm-up for the rest of the festival weekend.
Light: - (daylight)
Dreadful Shadows [Niggels]
The DREADFUL SHADOWS were founded in 1993 in Berlin. Their style was initially counted to the Gothic Rock and Dark Wave genre, but later considered a part of the Gothic Metal. This is due to the constant development of the band by the time of the release of their debut album ‘Estrangement’ in April 1994, where they integrated elements of metal and modern electronic into their sound. The band unfortunately split up in 2000 and left a void in their fans hearts, but now about seven years after the split, the band returns for some special live concerts. It is not a re-union even though this was misleadingly published for several times. The band will return to the stage in the last-known line-up which consists of: Sven Friedrich (vocals), Norman Selbig (guitars), André Feller (guitars), Jens Riediger (bass) and Ron Thiele (drums). http://www.dreadful-shadows.de/
Music & Performance
After the party mood and the infectious techno beats of ICON OF COIL, it was quite a change and a difficult task for the DREADFUL SHADOWS’ dark gothic Rock to keep up the spirits. Musically it was the opposite of the previous band, but although it took a while the DREADFUL SHADOWS managed in the end to involve the crowd almost as much as La Plegua & Co before. Old classics like ‘Burning the Shrouds’, ‘The Cycle’ or ‘Chains’ are simply compelling, and although this gig had a much darker and more melancholic tone the guitar-driven sound still invited to dance and rock hard. Having fun to dark music - quite apt for a Gothic festival!
So it was a clever move to include the NEW ORDER cover ‘True Faith’ in the set, and it was definitely well-received by the entire audience. The performance of the DREADFUL SHADOWS was intense and very dynamic, and especially Sven Friedrich’s singing was quite stunning. Thumbs up for the Berlin-based Gothic Rock band for delivering such a true-to-the-roots performance while still keeping up the rompish, celebratory atmosphere of the two Electro bands before them!
02. New Day
03. Dead can wait
04. A Sea of Tears
07. Burning the Shrouds
08. Desolated Home
10. Vagrants in Space
11. Drowning Sun
12. True Faith (NEW ORDER Cover)
13. The Cycle
Light: - (daylight)
A band that polarizes like no other; for one half of the scene, this best thing since music was invented and admires singer and mastermind Chris Pohl like a god; the other half finds it unbelievable how anyone can listen to such music longer than one minute without beginning to cry. The whole story began in 1998, when Chris Pohl founded BLUTENGEL as a follow-up to the project SEELENKRANK, which he gave up due to contractual problems. The debut ‘Child of Glass’ from 1999 conquered the clubs right away and brought BLUTENGEL lots of fans. The second album ‘Seelenschmerz’ hit the stores about two years later and was anxiously anticipated by the fans. The band couldn’t leave their fans waiting for new material for long and so they went to the studio again after their first acclaimed gig front of 10.000 people at the Wave Gotik Treffen 2001 to record the follow-up ‘Angel Dust’, actually receiving the 58th place in the Top 100 album charts. Two albums followed of which ‘Labyrinth’ the latest one is being released in September 2007, followed by a small tour. BLUTENGEL is: Chris Pohl (lyrics, vocals), Ulrike Goldmann (lyrics, vocals), Constance Rudert (lyrics, vocals) and Sonja (performance). http://www.blutengel.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/vampireromance
Music & Performance
As mentioned above, BLUTENGEL polarizes the scene. Which surprises me as it means that there are not only people who despise them, but also people who actually like them. And the latter is totally beyond me. It surprises me that a band like BLUTENGEL is being tolerated in a scene, which regards itself as being somehow “alternative” and in some cases even musically “pioneering”. And it shocks me that such a band is even quite successful! To all people who think that this little review was too subjective and partial: Well, that’s what reviews are all about - it’s called *opinion*! The vocal performance of all contributors on stage was below standards, and I’m tempted to say that in some cases standards are entirely unknown to the respective persons anyway. BLUTENGEL grab each and every bloody cliché about the Gothic scene and wring out any meaning and substance such a cliché might have had years ago.
Musically, BLUTENGEL’s sonic attempts are less complex than nursery rhymes - and having a bunch of half-decent looking girls in wedding dresses or stockings does not help much here, as much as lots of fireworks do not distract from the lack of substance and the cheesiness of every single second of the gig. It was painfully ridiculous. But the amphitheatre was quite packed, and most of the crowd loved it. I for one found it offending that all this is possible today in a scene which once spawned groundbreaking pioneers and geniuses like EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN, NICK CAVE, FRONT 242, THE CURE, SKINNY PUPPY and numerous others. File this under subjective opinion if you want, but I found the mere existence of an act like this insulting, and I still do. But the fans of BLUTENGEL left the festival site happy, I left it shocked.
01. Singing dead man
02. My saviour
03. Beauty and delight
04. Bloody pleasure
05. Die with you
06. Love killer
07. Oxidising angel
10. Go to hell
13. Vampire romance
And so, the first festival day ended. I for myself was driving home before the end of the BLUTENGEL gig because I had to work the whole day and was slightly exhausted. But I was already looking very much forward the upcoming two days with such cool bands as NITZER EBB or DIORAMA among many others. [DV]
All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com/ / http://www.black-cat-net.de/ / www.myspace.com/vorndranphotography)
Written by Daniela Vorndran [DV] and overall editor, Sebastian Huhn [SH] and all band intros, Niggels Uhlenbruch [Niggels] and Carsten Leopold [CL]