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Zitadelle, Erfurt, Germany
24th & 25th July 2010
In Extremo, Oomph, Fiddler's Green, Pothead, Koorpiklani, Ohrenfeindt

And so it happened that on the 24th of July one of Thuringia’s prodigal sons returned home. In true style, Micha Rhein brought his band of medieval hard rockers IN EXTREMO back to his native territory for what was to be their 15 year Jubilee Festival which led to an invasion of leather clad revellers to this quiet historic town. At the very centre of Erfurt lies the Zitadelle, a vast fortress set atop a hill which looks down ominously over the rest of the town. This was the setting, complete with medieval market, for a weekend of fun, mayhem and killer music.

The weather, despite a horrific start, was great, being sunny but not too hot, and the organisation was really on the ball, with plenty of food and drink outlets, good toilet facilities and reasonably sensible security.

Saturday, 24th July 2010

Ohrenfeindt (17.00 - 17.30)

First up on day one were OHRENFEINDT, a three piece outfit, going since 1994 and they made a good account of themselves during a very short set lasting only 30 minutes. They enjoyed themselves, played well and interacted with the audience to give their hard bluesy edged set a real lift. They cite amongst their heroes AC/DC and JOHNNY CASH and it was probably this strange marriage of influences that made them stand out. Hoarse, throaty vocals complemented heavy, driving beats interspersed with violent guitars. It's not easy kicking off a gig at five o'clock in the afternoon, but they did so with style and to good effect enjoying a warm and well deserved welcome from the audience. /

Music: 7
Performance: 7
Sound: 7
Light: - (daylight)
Total: 7 / 10

Pothead (18.00 - 18.45)

Another threesome emerged to grace the second slot, this time the interestingly named POTHEAD from Berlin incorporating American ex pats in their number. Interesting! I had heard their maiden offering ' USA' all those years ago (1994) and little of them since, but I'd never had the pleasure of seeing them live, so it was a nice thing that they performed so well. Unlike OHRENFEIDT, they are less engaged with the audience, but this laid back ambience works well for them and they blasted cleanly and effectively through their set, leaving me feeling that they'd done a really good job. /

Music: 7
Performance: 7
Sound: 7
Light: - (daylight)
Total: 7 / 10

Oomph! (19.10 - 20.10)

For me, OOMPH! are a sublime mixture of eerie storytelling, visual spectacle and fantastically created musical dichotomy. A mix of Electronica and gothic dark wave, everything about their set was slick, well managed and perfectly confidently executed. Vocalist and ringmaster Dero really falls into his natural vocational state when performing and hypnotises the audience with his charismatic darkness. They played a killer set, beginning with 'Beim ersten Mal tut's immer weh' which set the flavour for a very tight night, incorporating everything you would expect. It was a pity it was daylight, because their stuff is so dark and eerie that it works well with dramatic lighting but it really didn't detract from a scorching good set.

The show stopper of the whole set was 'Augen Auf' with the audience chanting “Eckstein, Eckstein alles muss versteckt sein” as a sort of canticle to Dero's awesomely strong creepy vocals. The final song was the famous ‘Sandmann’, one of their greatest hits, sublimely performed to rapturous applause from the audience. It was a deadly cool set performed without flaw. Awesome doesn't say enough.

1. Beim ersten Mal tut's immer weh
2. Unsere Rettung 
3. Fieber
4. Wer schön sein will muss leiden
5. Mitten ins Herz
6. Revolution
7. Niemand
8. Gekreuzigt
9. Labyrinth
10. Gott ist ein Popstar
11. Augen Auf!
12. Sandmann

Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 9
Light: - (daylight)
Total: 9.8 / 10

In Extremo (20.40 - 22.40)

And then, after only half an hour changeover, the time had come. The men who everyone was there to see were about to appear to deliver a very special concert indeed. A huge, covering black silk curtain shimmered in the breeze, hiding the stage as cymbal clashes and other teasing little dabs of music emitted from behind it. Suddenly, the curtain dropped and with a scurry of stage hands to remove it the band burst into force with 'Raue See' to monumental applause from the audience who for the last 30 minutes had been nearly dying of anticipation. A huge screen with the ' Wahre Jahre' logo stretched the full width of the stage behind the band, which was to prove as compelling as the band themselves as the night wore on. A huge turning globe appeared on the screen as second up was 'Frei Zu Sein' from the recent 'Sängerkrieg' album and Micha Rhein really got into his stride as a front man playing to the audience for all he was worth.

They had promised a different setlist each night, with many songs which they hadn't played live for years, being once again re- awakened just for this jubilee spectacle and one such was 'Hiemali Tempore' which preceded 'Sängerkrieg' itself. “Oh, oh oh, oh oh, oh, ohhhhh” roared the audience at Micha's request. It’s nice to see a front man who really knows his job at work and after 'Nymphenzeit' and 'Singapur', he danced with the audiences participation once again for one of their most popular songs 'Nur Ihr allein' with practically the whole audience joyfully dancing to his tune. This hellish pace surely couldn't be kept up for long and now it was time to slow things down with 'Liam', another massive crowd pleaser, the refrain played beautifully on the Uillean pipes by Flex and Micha on cister, the stage swathed in ruby red light.

'Wesserbronner Gebet' and 'Vanner Och Frande' followed before a very special performance indeed. A rather interesting “lady” wandered onto the stage in a short pink dress and blonde pigtails only to be kissed by Micha who promptly launched into the ever popular 'Küss mich'. The lady of his affections turned out to be non-other than Dero (OOMPH) in drag, and they both had a blast for the next five minutes, hamming it up for all they were worth, much to the amusement of the audience. After thoroughly overdoing it in the comedy stakes, their laughing front man quit the stage for a moment to allow Dr Pymonte time for his fantastic harp introduction to 'Vollmond', complete with raining poppy petals, before bouncing back onto the stage to give an impassioned and energetic rendering of what proved to be one of the crowd's favourite songs.

A change back to the traditional next as a Francois Villon text 'Rotes Haar' got the IN EXTREMO treatment with a passionate rendering of this intense love song. 'Flaschenpost' gave the audience another chance to sing to their heart's content (and they did), followed by yet another old track, unheard for a while 'Ai vis lo lop' guest starring Connie 'The Red Fox' Fuchs, who along with Micha Rhein founded IN EXTREMO so many years ago. To say that the crowd love her is an understatement and it took 'Spielmannsfluch' with all its drama and fire to take their mind off her with the crowd bellowing “Es regnet, es regnet Blut, es regnet der Spielmann's Fluch”. After a few jokes with the audience, fire overtook the large screen and they launched into 'Mein Rasend Herz' and having whipped the audience up into a frenzy it was time to cool them down again before the end of the show with 'Auf's Leben', one of their newer tracks, but no less well received than their older works. And with that to tumultuous applause they quit the stage, only to be hauled back by the howling mob of appreciation that the audience had become for a four song encore.

Whilst the rest of the band composed themselves, we were treated to another guest performer in the form of Götz Alsmann on piano who accompanied the solo Micha in a beautiful and moving version of 'Spielmann'. It was a rare treat to hear him sing so simply and it was one of the highlights of the night as the starkness gave an added dimension to the performance. Beautiful! Then another guest, this time a duettist who helped with the fabulous ' Poc Vecem' appeared. The whole audience sang this word for word at the top of their lungs, and the atmosphere was electric. One more song 'In Diesem Licht' and then it was the grand finale. For anyone who hasn't been to an IN EXTREMO concert, they always finish with 'Villeman Og Manghild', complete with awesome pyros, flaming drumsticks and synced movements from the band. Basti Lange on guitar took centre stage to lay down some hard and heavy riffs between blasts from flame cannons, and vocalist Micha Rhein gave it his all one last time. The song ascended into a crescendo of light and colour, as fireworks were set off on top of the stage roof and then all too soon it was over.

The band had played for two straight hours and never dimmed in their slickness, their professionalism and their sheer energy delivering a show that had something for everyone from thousand year old Viking songs to those from their recent no1 album. They said they wanted to do something special for their fans, and on this first night alone, they really succeeded. /

01. Raue See
02. Frei Zu Sein
03. Hiemali Tempore
04. Sängerkrieg
05. Nymphenzeit
06. Singapur
07. Nur Ihr Allein
08. Liam
09. Wesserbronner Gebet
10. Vanner Och Frande
11. Küss Mich
12. Vollmond
13. Rotes Haar
14. Flaschenpost
15. Ai Vis Lo Lop
16. Spielmannsfluch
17. Rasend Herz
18. Auf's Leben
19. Spielmann (Unplugged with Götz Alsmann on piano)
20. Poc Vocem
21. In Diesem Licht
22. Villeman Og Magnhild

Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 10
Light: 10
Total: 10 / 10

Sunday, 25th July 2010

Fiddler's Green (17.15 - 18.00)

Fast Irish music opened the day with the ever popular FIDDLER'S GREEN, who during a forty-five minute set gave the audience a traditional treat of speed fiddling fun. They rollick along, playing with the audience who loved them, track after track of tight, mean music designed to make you want to dance. The sound was excellent and the performance second to none and it's fair to say that the whole band pulled it off beautifully. A nice starter for a great evening's entertainment!

Music: 8
Performance: 8
Sound: 8
Light: - (daylight)
Total: 8 / 10

Korpiklaani (18.30 - 19.30)

Finnish lads with dreadlocks, accordions, a huge sense of fun and a blisteringly good turn at folk metal. That's KORPIKLAANI for you in a nutshell. I always enjoy this band, they strike me as mad, bad and dangerous to know judging by their live sets and for me that's always a good thing. They laughed and caroused their way through an hour of good solid Scandinavian folk metal, the set only suffering slightly here and there with a dip in sound quality. Not sure what caused that, but it wasn't sufficiently bad to detract from what these guys were doing. The audience were crazy for them, already in good form and ever eager for IN EXTREMO to pick up the reins. When KORPIKLAANI finally left the stage they gave them a riotous thank you.

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 9
Light: - (daylight)
Total: 9 / 10

In Extremo (20.00 - 22.00)

The slow, haunting introduction began and then to rhythmic clapping and timed shouts of “IN EXTREMO” as of the night before the band burst out from behind a large black curtain which concealed the screen. Throughout both nights it flicked up pictures of the band at various stages of their lives, as well as great visual images like fire and the spinning earth. They began with 'Sieben Köche', a jolly offering from their latest album, followed by 'Wind' as strobes screamed across the stage. More from their last album in the form of 'Sängerkrieg' with its “Ho ho ho” audience participation followed and then it was ' Pavanne' which preceded an early version of 'Vollmond', once again with nice poppy rain and pyros of the highest order.

The legend that is the song 'Erdbeermund' came next with the audience all rapturously singing and making the symbol of the song with their hands in time to the music as fire cannons raged. Then things paced down again, and the evocative 'Mersberger Zaubersprüche' floated out across Erfurt in all its ancient mournful glory. Killer guitar riffs then cut through the air as ' Ave Maria' began, the audience waving their arms from side to side at the instruction of Micha, the front man, alias “Das Letzte Einhorn”. 'Spielmannsfluch' made a re-appearance from the previous night, but no-one cared because it was just so good; dynamic, exciting and full of this band's trademark energy.

The one song which for me was just a tad below what I had hoped was 'Die Gier'. There was nothing wrong with the performance or the music, just that they tried a slightly different version than on CD and for me with the vocal going higher, it lost all of its deep smouldering passion. 'Horizont' however was smack on, incisive lyrics, overlaying great buzzing guitar riffs and awesome bass work from Kay Lutter. 'Rasend Herz' appeared again no less great than the previous night and then it was time for a guest in the form of Joey Kelly of KELLY FAMILY fame. Together he and Micha sang 'En Este Noche', a Spanish-tongued song from the latest album. The fact that the lyrics were Spanish didn't put the audience off having a good bash at them, as they cheered and clapped their appreciation.

'Frei zu Sein' was next, and a great rendition of that, one of the highlights of the night. The ever popular 'Liam' came next where Flex really had the chance to shine as the beautiful melody from the Ullean Pipes wove its way against emotive vocals. 'In diesem Licht', a soulful song which haunts the mind, preceded 'Flaschenpost’, a raucous celebration of life which the audience really loved. The next song 'Omnia Sol Temporat', an old song both in age and in terms of their repertoire, was well received before the final song of the main set 'Auf's Leben'. Once again 'Spielmann' was performed solo by Micha with Götz Alsmann, no less beautiful than the previous night, with the large screen displaying huge images of the performance as it took place.

'Küss Mich' was their second song of the encore, this time sadly minus Dero but it was still a raucous audience participation affair with whoops and howls of appreciation for the band that by now must have been exhausted but looked as though they could go on all night. I was so happy when the familiar strains of 'Herr Mannelig' rang out and so was the audience. It's nice that IN EXTREMO have such a multi-lingual group of fans, because word for word they went through the ancient Swedish song with them, about a poor troll who falls in love with a handsome knight.... Awwwww! With pyros going left and right, more fireworks than you could count and a blisteringly great performance IN EXTREMO brought their Jubilee Festival to a close with their age old show finisher 'Villeman Og Manghild'.

The lighting was sublime, the pyrotechnics breath-taking, and the sound spot on for what was a celebratory festival I won't forget in a hurry. The band really have grown from a middle ages market band to be one of Europe's top Folk Metal bands, and this was their chance to thank their fans the best way they knew how. In terms of effort, performance and enjoyment they were unsurpassed and it was, as they had planned, a really special event. /

01. Sieben Köche
02. Wind
03. Sängerkrieg
04. Pavane
05. Vollmond
06. Erbeermund
07. Merseburger Zaubersprüche II
08. Ave Maria
09. Spielmannsfluch
10. Die Gier
11. Horizont
12. Rasend Herz
13. En Esta Noche (Feat. Joey Kelly)
14. Frei Zu Sein
15. Liam
16. In Diesem Licht
17. Flaschenpost
18. Omnia Sol Temperat
19. Auf's Leben
20. Spielmann (Unplugged with Götz Alsmann on piano)
21. Küss Mich
22. Herr Mannelig
23. Villeman Og Magnhild

Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 10
Light: 10
Total: 10 / 10


This was a well-conceived, well-structured festival which you leave feeling it really was purely for the fans. The band could not have made more effort in any department, with excellent management of the structure of the festival and the utilisation of a great team around them. Dirk Burke of Lakeside Studios managed sound and is to be thoroughly commended for keeping everything as it should be, whilst lighting and pyro man Jens is nothing short of a god of fire! The band themselves played their hearts out, gave it their all and were justly deserving of all the praise that the fans were giving them. Once again IN EXTREMO led the way.

All pictures by Maddi Isaacs

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