Perfect concert is perfect!

Poets of the Fall – Faine Misto Festival, Ternopil; July 21st, 2017

Holy Shit! Seeing Poets of the Fall at Faine Misto Festival was absolutely perfect. In fact the whole festival and experience was as close to perfect as it gets with everything working out in our favor and all the other bands being fun as well. Granted their one hour set was over in a heartbeat, but what a strong, energetic, happy and utterly beautiful heartbeat it was. Walking out of the festival area A. and I agreed that it was totally worth the trip to the middle of nowhere.

Some time earlier this year when their gig at Faine Misto Festival was announced, I ruled it out quickly, because it is somewhat difficult to get to and I really did not feel like doing it. Still, it was always at the back of my mind and I kept checking for possibilities when suddenly the topic came up with A. and she told me she was thinking about it too. We went for “it is impossible to get to” to “let’s do this” in no time. We booked and counted down the days…

Thursday, my travel day, I was extremely nervous. Two weeks before I was going to Finland to see Poets of the Fall in Kajaani – or so I though. I had a 2.5 hour layover in Amsterdam, then a night bus from Helsinki airport 1.5 hours after arrival. Long story short thanks to bad weather and KLM I never made my connecting flight and therefore did not have any chance to get to Kajaani on time (the available flight options from Amsterdam on Friday arrived in Helsinki too late). Thus I missed the gig and returned home rather bummed. Now this Thursday, with a storm warning for Düsseldorf I was worried of the same thing happening all over again and for a long time it looked like it would. My first flight was very delayed and I spent most of the flight crying, sure I would miss my connection. I made it though and arrived in Lviv at 1 in the morning, extremely exhausted. From there I had a car booked to take me to my hotel in Ternopil. According to Google maps it was a one hour drive and I though that’s be better than finding a way to the train station and taking a train. I was so wrong. It was one of the most horrific drives of my life. The road conditions were terrible and it took almost three hours to get to my hotel. All I wanted to do was sleep, wondering if it was really worth it.

A. had spent the day and night in Lviv, joining me on Friday. We took it easy, decided what would happen would happen, had lunch and eventually went to the festival site. In a taxi again, because it is far out of town. Only when we entered the festival area we go nervous and waked faster. As we got closer to the main stage we heard ‘Carnival of Rust’ – the guys were still sound checking. We spontaneously sang along, smiling already and smiled even more when we realized the area were the stage was was still closed and there were only few people waiting. We could wait in the shade too which was welcome on this hot day. About one hour later they let us in, we ran and secured the most perfect spots in front row. There was no real center since they had put a corridor between the barrier on the left and right. We got the far right places on the left side. Perfect! From then on, everything as right, even though we would have to wait for six hours and hear five more bands before we’d get to see our guys.

First up were Le cœur, a band that plays Funk Fusion Rock according to their own description. The singer, a black guy had and interesting black and white theme going with black pants, one black and one white shoe and wearing half of a white shirt. They were fun to watch and very listenable. The audience was still small at that point, but they enjoyed it, especially when the singer jumped of stage and walked along front row.

Changing of stage went quickly and meanwhile two hosts, one female, one male entertained the audience. I don’t know what they were saying, but it must have been nice and fun, because people liked it. Le Basour from Italy were next, playing Alternative Rock with some Electronic / Synthy Pop elements. A. pointed out to me that the guitar player was wearing underpants with his sirt and I was like “Be grateful he’s not naked.” 😉 The black and white theme continued with the singer wearing one black and one white shoe as well. During their gig someone from the crew passed out glow stick wrist bands to everyone. It was a really nice touch, but unfortunately it was not dark enough for that. They rocked and got the crowd going and in the end they even gave out CDs. The music was good, but I found some of the imagery they used to accompany their music a bit sexist. Minor flaw though, still had fun.

Suddenly it got crowded so we figured that Epolets must be popular. Once they started playing, we understood why. They were amazing! They played beautiful, very melodic rock, singing in Ukranian and English and so much about them reminded us of Poets of the Fall that we got an extra kick out of all the déjà-vus we felt. First of all they were wearing jumpsuits, the drummer had an orange one (!), the font they used for their name reminded us of the Revolution Roulette era font and the singer was not only very charismatic, he climbed the pole on the side of the stage and sang from there. 😀 We did not only like they because they reminded us of Poets though. They were just very good. The music had great melodies and A. said the lyrics were really good too. In the background on the screen, images accompanied the music and they fit so well. The band really made an effort to make the gig great. They played well, they had great energy, they made connections with the audience and it was a joy watching them. At one point they even showered us with confetti. I had it stuck everywhere. 😀 Apart from Poets Epolets were by far the best band we saw that night and we got a really good selection to begin with. I will surely check out more of their music.

The Russian band Элизиум (Elysium) playing what I would describe as a variation of Punk Ska were a bit of a disappointment after that. They were fun for about thirty minutes but then they just got boring, because everything sounded pretty much the same. They were extremely popular though and even got an encore. It was listenable, but I was glad when they were done.

Ukranian Rock band Друга Ріка (Druha Rika), who followed were really great though. They have been around for over twenty years and it shows. They put on a great show and it was clearly visible they still love what they are doing and are comfortable on stage. Great energy, good vibes and really good music too. They showed videos in the background which was a bit distracting, because they were so interesting. It loved their gig though, screaming along and waving my arms with the music.

So far, so good. Meanwhile it was 10:35 pm and less than half an hour to go before our boys would hit the stage. I felt the excitement rise and watched happily as the crew set up the stage. From off stage we heard the mic test “Sleep, Baby” and then something in Finnish I can’t remember. We looked at each other and smiled. For the other bands there had been a lot of people in the photo pit and not only photographers, but now they were all sent away and the photographers were told they could stay only for three songs. It was very clear they were headlining. 😀 People were pushing to the front and the space got a bit tight there, but that’s just how it goes.

We both felt a little bit exhausted and weren’t sure how it was going to go well, but the moment the first notes were played I felt a jolt of energy going through my body. Marko walked out, singing the first lines of ‘Shadow Play’ and I felt the smile spread on my face. From that moment on I knew it was going to be a good one. They surprised me with not playing ‘Shadow Play’ in full, but went right into ‘Dreaming wide awake’ after the intro. As soon as it started I was jumping, we both were. I completely fell into the music, forgetting everything else, singing, screaming, jumping and having the time of my life.

In the beginning I pointed at Olli and he nodded back at me. Soon after, Marko saw me and pointed at me, so I pointed back at him too. Jani and Jaska both smiled at us and eventually even Captain and Jari saw us from the back. The stage was huge and there was a big gap between us and them, but I did not feel it at all. It felt as if they were really close. I much enjoyed having an overview and seeing all of them in their spots or moving around visiting each other. From time to time my eyes were glued on Marko, but I did spend some time watching each of the others too. They all looked happy and the energy level was extremely high from the start. They clearly enjoyed being their and I enjoyed watching them do their magic.

Within minutes they had won over the entire audience with everyone waving their hands, screaming or singing along. Crowd participation was perfect, but still A. and I managed to be the craziest. It was so much fun and I had needed this concert so much after the disaster two weeks ago that I felt extra happy to be there, very much aware of how lucky I was to have this opportunity. Earlier that day I had still felt exhausted and even a bit sad, but it was all blown away with the music. I was in a zone, living every second, getting so lost in the whole experience that even while I was there I could not remember what had happened a moment before. Basically I just went with the flow, being carried by the music just letting my body move along with it, while my heart filled with joy. It is difficult to describe the feeling other than saying the whole experience was special. I was not an individual any more, I was part of something bigger than myself. My often restless mind stood still and breathed for a moment, taking it all in, not caring about the past or the future, just being in the now. One perfect moment where time didn’t exist and music was the only thing that mattered. And that night, this moment lasted.  <3

Every single song blew me away. It felt like Stefan Boman described the ‘Clearview’ album a kiss and a punch in the face. That, believe it or not, was the perfect mix for me. The band was so very energetic I was able to feed off their energy all night and hopefully managed to give something back in return. They clearly enjoyed seeing A. and me rocking out at the front and I am not saying the rest of the audience was quiet or did not move. Quite the contrary, everyone there was very much into it. From stage we all must have looked like one big moving mass.

I looked at all of the guys in turn while singing “I dream you wide awake” as loudly as I could. I turned to A. with a grin when Marko sang the same line twice in ‘Daze’, raised my bottle to the guys during ‘Illusion & Dream’ and of course sang along the whole time. Being there was magical, it made me feel so alive and happy that I was overflowing with positive energy and could not stand still. The guys were on fire, giving it all they had, every note was spot on. With the big stage, they had a lot of room to move and they used it, visiting each other a lot. 🙂

Much of the concert is a blur to me in retrospect. It often happens when I am so much into it. All my energy goes into being there and and enjoying the moment so there’s no capacity left to remember anything later. Didn’t have my camera with me either so I was living all the beautiful moments instead of trying to capture them. I remember watching Jari’s drumming for a while when nobody was blocking my view. I remember Captain coming to the front of the stage a few times to look at the audience. I remember Marko being silly and making faces for us so we could take a picture. I laughed, only to roll my eyes a moment later when he teased to pull down his pants and show his butt. 😀

The setlist had changed a lot from the last time I’d seen them, but they might have adapted it especially for this gig. Either way, it worked nicely and they made a lot of people happy with playing ‘Sleep’. We all held up our phone with the lights on when Marko asked us to and it looked really beautiful. Eventually I put my phone away and just watched with my head resting on my hands. Marko looked at me and smiled when he saw that.

When ‘Drama for Life’ started A. and I were the first ones with our hands in the air, but everyone quickly caught on and clapped along with the band. I did not look around, but I can just imagine how amazing that view must have been. A drone was flying over our heads from time to time, filming the concert and Marko sang to it when it came close. ‘Locking up the sun’ started and I turned to A. saying “Already?”. I could not believe so much time had passed when it felt like barely a few minutes. I did not want it to be over! Luckily I managed to fall right back into the music and enjoy the remainder of the show just as much.

I loved seeing Jaska’s smile and watching Olli fly high in the air when he jumped. I loved seeing Jani playing with Jari and Olli visiting Captain, loved all the interactions between the guys and the happy looks on their faces. All he songs sounded so good that night, I could not get enough. When Olli played his solo during ‘Lift’, Jani got down on his knees in front of him and played to him. Marko was watching, indicating to us “These guys are crazy”. I bowed to Olli and then Marko did it too. 🙂

They walked off and we screamed for more, calling them back. Around that time it started raining – I welcomed the cool down after the hot day. Soon the band was back and gave us ‘Children of the Sun’ as a parting gift. A. and I held on to each other, swaying with the music and later switched to holding hands. It was the perfect ending to a perfect show. The guys waved to us and Marko blew each of us a kiss. We both sent one right back at him. It was such a sweet gesture. <3 I really wanted to hug the guys, but it was not possible, so I had to make do with waving. Thank you, it was amazing! See you in a month!

Setlist

Shadow Play (intro)
Dreaming wide awake
Daze
Illusion & Dream
Diamonds for Tears
Temple of Thought
Sleep
Drama for Life
Locking up the Sun
Carnival of Rust
Lift
Children of the Sun

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I’ve had the time of my life

Robbie Williams – Esprit Arena, Düsseldorf; June 28th, 2017

After Robbie Williams had left the stage and the lights went on in the arena last night, ‘I’ve had the time of my life’ from the ‘Dirty Dancing’ soundtrack was played in the house and while hundreds of us walked out through a large hallway towards the still surprisingly bright sky outside, I noticed that I was singing along. The beautiful part was, that I was not the only one. At least half of the people who walked there were singing loudly, with the words echoing from the walls and only when the chorus was over we stopped. It was the perfect ending to a brilliant show, summing up everyone’s feeling. We had all come to be entertained and Robbie did exactly that. When he started he promised that for the night our asses were his and he delivered. He had us all before the first song was sung and when the show ended I did not see anyone who didn’t have a happy, often slightly loony, smile on their faces. Every concert should be like this!

It had been 11 years since I’d last seen Robbie perform a pop concert and I’ve mostly stopped listening to his music since. Even though I know he is a brilliant entertainer and I’d enjoyed his swing show in Berlin a couple of years back, I wasn’t sure at all if I really wanted to go, fearing it might not appeal to me any more. I could not have been more wrong. I loved it from the moment the lights went down to the last note and he totally made me forget everything else. My ass was indeed Robbie’s for the one hours and 50 minutes he performed – it was the perfect entertainment.

Remembering the Close Encounters tour I had originally planned to take the day off and line up in the morning, but I am seriously getting too old for this sort of thing and decided against it, instead working for half a day before going there. It was raining heavily when I arrived and took me a while to even find the right entrance. Then I heard the line at the other one was shorter and went over there, taking a chance. It all worked out perfectly. After an hour or so the rain stopped, they let everyone in at the same time and I ended up in third row on the left side. I had expected to be standing way in the back so I was a happy camper. 😀 Most people around me where my age, therefore there was not much pushing and shoving and nobody screamed into my ear either. Everyone was relaxed and I chatted nicely with several other women while we waited.

At 7:30 on the dot the lights went down and Erasure walked on stage. When I had seen they were supporting Robbie on tour my first reaction was: “Wait, what? They still exist?” Apparently, they do and they are still making new music too. They were quite listenable, but didn’t really blow me off my feet. The only stuff I really liked were the old songs I knew. Funnily enough as soon as they played a hit from the 80ies lots of people were singing along. Just like me they’d grown up with this music too and grown older with Robbie. 🙂 Anyway, I did enjoy Erasure’s performance and they made the time pass quickly.

Setlist

Victim of Love
Drama!
Love You to the Sky
Oh L’Amour
Chorus
Blue Savannah
Love to Hate You
Sometimes
Stop!
Chains of Love
A Little Respect

Robbie was scheduled to start at 9 pm and while we waited I watched people and whatever was happening on the big screens. Since the roof of the arena was closed it was incredibly hot and just as I wondered if I should go out and try to get a drink the security guards at the front were passing out free water. Thank you! Unexpectedly, at 20:45  the arena went dark. So early? Along with everyone else I clapped and cheered. The mock hymn ‘God bless our Robbie’ was played from tape, lyrics on the screen included. It was wonderfully ironic, including lines like “He can swing like a bastard and can rock all night long”, “but would still make Rudebox and give rap a go” and “he is totally global, except in the US of A”. Every single line made me grin, it was just the right mixture of being a show off and not taking oneself seriously. 🙂

Robbie was announced like a boxer and raised up rom below the stage, wearing a boxing cape, standing with his back to the audience. He turned, surrounded by dancers and started singing ‘The Heavy Entertainment Show’. Most people already sang along. I could not, but loved watching, my smile growing bigger as the cape came off and he was wearing a skirt. Yes sir! That was absolutely cool. He walked to the very front of the catwalk and told us that he was Robbie Fucking Williams (like Amanda Fucking Palmer? I thought) and our collective ass was his for the night. Fine with me! At the end of the first song confetti cannons went off for the first tie that night. Oh wow! If I had not been sold before I was then. It was an amazing show already and it only got better from there. ‘Let me entertain you’ was next and here I was, singing along and jumping up and down as if no time had passed since 2006. With ‘Monsoon’ he fully took me back to that tour and I briefly wondered why I had been so reluctant to go to the concert. This was fucking amazing!

He spent a lot of time on the catwalk, but he also came over to the sides a lot and made sure to go to each side equally much so everyone got a closer look at him. One time I was almost sure he waved and smiled at me, but most probably everyone around me thought the same. 😉 For ‘Party like a Russian’ which he changed to “Party like a German” the dancers wore black outfits with red hats while he sat in some sort of chair. Everything was well choreographed and often I didn’t know if I should watch him or the dancers.

Robbie was chatty, telling us he was getting old, back pains included. I hear you man and I can feel it too! 😀 It did not keep me from dancing and enjoying the show though and it did not keep him from performing either. He talked about Take That and asked us if we knew that song, starting to sing ‘Back for good’ which pretty much everyone sang along to. There was a woman with a sign that he had kept looking at earlier, but I could only see the back of it. We now learned she was asking him to sign her tits, because he confirmed that with her. Apparently he had done something like that in Dresden and liked it, so he wanted to do it again and proceeded to walk over to her. It was all on the screen too. She hesitated for a moment, then lifted her shirt and he took the pen she had and signed “Love, Robbie”, commenting “Thank you Germany for this!”. Not something I would want, but hey, if that floats your boat why not? 😉 We did not get ‘Back for good’ in full, but ‘The Flood’ instead. Nice.

After that Robbie talked about George Michael and how much he had admired him, before launching into ‘Freedom’. Of course I knew he had covered the song on his first album, but I never expected him to play that one. It was a good version too! For ‘Love my Life’ he told us about his daughter Teddie and how, when they had watched him on TV she had asked her mom: “After we’re done watching Daddy on the television, can we watch something we really like?” “Everyone’s a critic.” he concluded and explained he has written the next song for her, while walking to the front of the catwalk and climbing on to a huge hand/ boxing glove that was attached to a crane and carried him over the audience in a half circle. It was awesome and everyone was singing along to the song too.

Then he asked us if we were “Better than Berlin, louder than Leipzig, etc” testing this by making us sing along to a medley of songs. The first one was Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ and anyone who follows my blog regularly will understand why I started laughing. The sing along was pretty good though, especially considering the long and diverse list of songs Robbie quoted from. It wasn’t equally great for all the songs he put in the medley, but overall I’d say we passed the test, especially because we sang loudest to his own songs. Only with ‘Candy’ we failed, leading him to comment “I thought that was a hit in Germany”. He was happy with our performance on ‘Come undone’ and launched right into the song, asking in the end if he was still our son. Hell yes! I have always loved that song, it was the one that made me a fan and I was so happy to hear it, I actually had tears in my eyes, while singing along at the top of my lungs.

The entire night I sang and danced and swayed along to the music. I screamed so loud that I thought I might have lost my voice and I sweat bucketloads too. I could not have been happier to be there, felt happy and in awe, was moved to tears and forgot the world and the fact that I’d been dead tired right before the show started. Only music can do this to me, make me live in the moment, be as present as I am ever going to be, feeling alive. 😀

Robbie was looking for someone to sing the next song with and stated his requirements, saying the person could not be better looking than him or taller or sing better… Eventually he picked out a woman, led her up to stage, asked her name (Stefanie) and where she was from (Düsseldorf) and then sat down with her on a couch. He asked if she could sing and she said no. Of course that was part of the plan, because he had a ridiculously looking “singing mask” for her to wear. They sang ‘Something stupid’ and the “Singing mask” could not sing at all. Robbie made faces during the performance, it was all just for show, but I still felt a little sorry or my namesake. Afterwards she got a big hug though and a picture too. She had left her phone with her friend, but Robbie walked her over there, took the phone and posed for a few selfies with her. <3 The things one would do to sit on a couch with Robbie and be hugged by him afterwards (or not, I would not want to be on that stage for the life of me). 😀

‘Rudebox’ was next and to my surprise I enjoyed it. Never thought that song could be fun. “You’ll be Kylie Minougue and I’ll be Robbie Williams” led to a great version of ‘Kids’. “This song is 20 years old,” he told us, “I warote it when I was three.” 😀 Robbie talked about watching his father perform when he was a kid and then called him on stage to perform with him. They sat comfortably on a couch and sang Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ all the while smiling at each other. It was really sweet. <3

Now it was time to talk about his son, Charlie and we heard a story about him learning “to talk like daddy” and how they were driving quietly and suddenly Charlie said “look at all those fucking trees”. * laughter * “You can’t say ‘fucking’, that’s only 20 trees, you need at least 60 or 70 to say ‘fucking'” * more laughter*. “I wrote this song for him, it is called ‘Motherfucker'”. I had forgotten about this song, because I did not listen to the album much, but it worked really well live. Loved it!

The main set ended with ‘Feel’, which again brought tears to my eyes and a powerful version of ‘Rock DJ’. Somewhere along the line there were more confetti too. 😀 Robbie walked off and the crowd erupted into cheers. It was deafening! It did not take him long to come back and he sang a bit of the White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ before asking us if we knew this song and starting ‘Strong. Of course we did, but this night we were going to change the lyrics. I had heard it had first happened at the ‘One Love Manchester’ concert for the victims of the attack on Ariana Grande’s concert. We practiced a few times and the lyrics were shown on the screens as well. “You know that we’re strong, we’re strong, we’re strong. We’re still singing our songs, our songs, our songs.” I do believe I was not the only one who was moved to tears. In fact Robbie looked very moved as well. <3

All the lights went out and green laser beams lit up the arena, while Robbie was sitting in a chair that was surrounded by what I can best describe as bars/poles of lights. It looked beautiful. As he started singing ‘Angels’, everyone in the room sang along and even before he got up and asked us to do it, many people got out their phones and switched on the lights, waving them about. In front of me was a woman that held up a lighter (you go girl!). The entire arena was a sea of tiny lights. Gorgeous. :’)

Final song of the night was Frank Sinatra’s ‘My way’. Robbie changed a line to “Tits, I’ve signed a few, but then again, too few to mention” 😀 and when the song was over walked back from the catwalk to the main stage where he took a final bow with his band and dancers. We screamed so much that he stayed a little and led us in another sing along to the choruses of ‘Strong’ and then ‘Angels’. While we were still singing, he slowly walked out. It was the perfect end to a perfect show and for the umpteenth time that night I wondered how I could have forgotten how much fun a Robbie Williams concert is. I so wanted another one! Thank you Robbie!

Slightly dazed I said goodbye to my companions around me and walked out into the night, still smiling. Kudos to the arena staff who made sure everyone got out quickly. I cannot remember the last time I have seen such a well organized exit after the concert. Even better: public transport worked flawlessly with subways arriving pretty much every minute. Kudos to Rheinbahn for that. On the way to the main train station I happily chatted with a family, who had loved the concert just as much as we did. Even getting home was a breeze and I can only repeat myself: Every concert should be like this!

Setlist

God Bless Our Robbie (to the tune of “Land of Hope and Glory”)
The Heavy Entertainment Show
Let Me Entertain You
Monsoon
Party Like a Russian
Back for Good (Take That song)
The Flood (Take That song)
Freedom 90 (George Michael cover)
Love My Life
a cappella medley: Livin’ on a Prayer (Bon Jovi) / Rehab (Amy Winehouse) / The Best (Tina Turner) / Kiss (Prince) / U Can’t Touch This (MC Hammer) / Don’t You Want Me (Mandy Smith) / Stayin’ Alive (Bee Gees) / She’s the One /  Here Comes the Hotstepper (Kamoze)  / Candy /  You’re the One That I Want (Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta) / Back for Good (Take That) / Come Undone
Come Undone (with “Never Forget” outro)
Somethin’ Stupid (Carson and Gaile cover) (with woman from the audience)
Rudebox
Kids
Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond cover) (with Robbie’s dad)
Motherfucker (with “Hey Jude” outro)
Feel
Rock DJ

Encore:
Seven Nation Army (The White Stripes cover) (snippet)
Strong (modified lyrics)
Angels
My Way (Claude François cover) (acoustic)

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