I want you to know I can’t sleep any more

Árstíðir / Anneke van Giersbergen / Pain of Salvation – turock, Essen; April 21st 2013

Still tired from the previous night I traveled to Essen for the last show of this tour. I spent the trip reminiscing about the past weeks, smiling at the memories. Yet, there was a touch of sadness in all this, because this night the fun times would end and reality (read: work) awaited me the following morning. After 6 concerts everyone on this tour felt a bit like family to me and I was convinced I would cry before the day was over. Turns out I was wrong. I didn’t cry, I was laughing whole-heartedly instead. It was one of the funniest and craziest concerts I have ever attended, a night of pranks, costumes and rock ‘n’ roll. 😀

In the morning I had said goodbye to L. and was on my own again. Once in Essen I had some time to kill and the first hot meal of the weekend. Got to the venue around 5 p.m. and was alone for a while. I ended up getting in early so I never saw the line forming. When I took a look out of the upstairs window shortly before they opened I was quite surprised to see so many people waiting. Inside I was greeted by everyone and got to see and hear some of the soundcheck. Met a woman from Poland who was following Pain of Salvation. We had a nice conversation about touring and when I mention I dreaded going back to real life she replied: “This is real life!” – that’s a good way of looking at it. 🙂

The place filled up quickly. I have no idea if it was sold out or not, but it felt quite packed. It’ s not a very big venue to begin with though. I could feel the anticipation in the room – everyone seemed excited to be there. The lights went down, the photographers got there cameras ready (there were lots that night) and the show began. Daniel G. walked out, eating an apple. He mentioned the theme of the night and how he had started one show with the words “So, death…”, then looked at me and commented that I had probably been there. He talked for some time, then jokingly asked if we were expecting music.

Árstíðir joined him for ‘Road Salt’, before he left the stage to them. From the very first moment I felt something special in the air, but had no idea what that meant. For now it was just beautiful music and despite having to work that night I took a few breaks from my camera to enjoy the music. It was the end of the tour after all. 🙂 They started with ‘Á Meðan Jörðin sefur’ and ‘Heiðin’, followed by ‘Brestir’. They explained they were adding it for Daniel G’s son whose favorite it is. Jón mentioned that many people seem to like it, even though it is a “sad song about depression” – that’s the interesting thing about lyrics very few people understand. They just hear whatever they want to hear. 😉 The guys took over the audience in no time – once more I saw only happy faces.

When Ragnar called Anneke on stage to join them for ‘Everwake’, Gustaf of Pain of Salvation walked out instead, his T-Shirt rolled up, showing his belly. Everyone on stage cracked up laughing. Confidently he stepped up to the mic and greeted us, speaking with a high voice. When Ragnar asked him if he was gonna sing with them, he shook his head. Of course they called Gustaf on stage next and Anneke stepped up to his bass. There was much laughter until they changed places.

The rest of Árstíðir’s set was played without further interruptions. They were in a great mood though, talking a lot. Karl even told his one German joke despite Jón rolling his eyes about it. When the last song was over, I felt a little bit of melancholia creep in, because I knew I’d have to wait until July to see and hear them play their own songs again. Yet, much of this concert was still ahead of me and I was looking forward to it. 🙂

Setlist

Road Salt (Pain of Salvation cover)
Á Meðan Jörðin sefur
Heiðin
Brestir
Ljoð í Sand
Everwake (Anathema cover)
þér Ég Unni
Nú Gleymist Ég
Shades / Tárin

Anneke asked us to applaud again for the guys and commented “They are so good!” – I fully agree and I had the feeling many others in the room did as well. As soon as she started singing it was clear she had a lot of fans in the house. Her songs were well received. I enjoyed every one of them, but of course I most awaited the ones where Árstíðir would join her. I didn’t have to wait long, until she called some of the guys back on stage to great cheers.

While she performed ‘Time after time’ with the guys, everyone who wasn’t on stage already, walked out during the second verse, brooms in hand and started sweeping the floor. The song was completely hijacked and I have no idea how she managed to keep on singing. I was laughing so hard I had trouble taking pictures. 😀 For the rest of her set there were no further pranks, just singing. With a final bow, she left and everyone was looking forward to seeing Pain of Salvation.

Setlist

My Electricity (The Gathering song)
4 Years
Yalin
Time after Time (Cindy Lauper cover)
Beautiful One
Locked away (The Gathering song)
Jolene (Dolly Parton cover)
Circles
Drowning Man (U2 cover)

For one last time on this tour, Daniel G. walked on stage, switched on the lights and asked us if everyone else had left. He reminded us of the evening’s theme and was soon interrupted by the doorbell that seemed to have a life of it’s own this time. “It’s open!” he called and Roger appeared. Thus, everything was back to normal, i.e. the regular band members after the previous night.

One more time I listened to all the songs I’d grown to like over the past three weeks, one more time I watched the guys at work. From where I stood, I could not see all that much of Leo, but had everyone else in my sights. I enjoyed the transitions between slower and faster songs, the fact that I could finally sing along to some of them, the music in general. No matter if they were playing a cover song or one of their own, the performance always fit the material. Yet this night, a few things were different…

The doorbell announced Anneke and Daniel G. invited her in. They sat comfortably on the sofa, singing ‘Help me make it through the night’ when suddenly an extra singer appeared from backstage.  It was Ragnar wearing a blonde, long-haired wig, singing right along with them. It was hilarious. He soon joined Anneke and Daniel G. on the sofa. I was quite surprised they still managed finishing the song while everyone else was laughing.  😀

Pain of Salvation got a few prank free songs after that one, each one well received by the audience. These were faster songs mostly, but they appreciated the slow ones as well. It started feeling like a regular rock concert, which was great fun.  😉 A lot of energy was in the room that night. The band’s good mood carried over to us. All the melancholia I had felt at the beginning of the concert was gone now, only happiness and lots of laughter remained.

‘Disco Queen’ is always is always a highlight for me. The music really grabs me and makes it next to impossible to stand still. It’s a song to move to, jump and dance. It started the usual way, but was hijacked by the other musicians who were dressed up with scarves, long coats, glasses and hats, dancing, blowing soap bubbles, jumping, waving their shirts around or lounging comfortably on the furniture. It felt like watching a night at the disco or an especially wild party. So much fun! 😀

‘Second Love’ was next and I thought things would calm down a bit, but this was not a night for singing ballads uninterrupted. Before the first chorus of “I want you to know I can’t sleep any more…” Gunnar walked out in pajama pants with a toothbrush in his mouth and settled down on the sofa next to Roger to sleep. However, he was tossing and turning, lying awake and finally gave up, just sitting there sighing and leaning on to Roger for support. It was a pretty good illustration of the song. 😉

Just before the encores Daniel G. passed us a bag of chips that had been on the table before and he handed out fruit too. Before the band came back out the stage tech started playing one of the guitars so Daniel G. took it away from him and placed it on one of the chairs. Thus, he grabbed the next guitar, which Daniel G. took away as well and so on until all guitars were placed on the chairs. He tried the bass next and Daniel G. called Gustaf for help to take it away. On to the piano from which Daniel G. dragged him backstage. He was right back though and settled behind the drums until Leo walked up and just looked at him. 😀

Finally, everyone settled and they played a beautiful version of ‘Dust in the Wind’. Hallgrímur and Karl snuck back on stage to join them, Karl once again with the big red wig. ‘Chain Sling’ had everyone dancing, Daniel G. jumping high up in the air. For ‘1979’, the final song, all the musicians were back on stage and they pulled out all stops. Everyone played and sang, the audience rocking along with them. For the grand finale they threw lots of stuff into the audience from guitar picks and drumsticks to the records that had decorated the shelf in the back and even the flowerpot from the table. Finally, Ragnar decided to throw himself into the audience and stage dive. It worked quite well. He came sailing back right over my head. I ducked; he rolled over me and came running back for a hug. 🙂 Everyone on stage was hugging too – one big family. I did not want the night to end, but finally everyone left the stage. Wow, just wow!

Setlist

Falling Home
Diffidentia
Linoleum
Mrs. Modern Mother Mary
Ashes
Help Me Make It Through The Night (Kris Kristofferson cover)
To the Shoreline
Holy Diver (Dio cover)
Stress
Disco Queen
Second Love
Spitfall
Iter Impius
The Perfect Element

Encore

Dust in the Wind (Kansas cover)
Chain Sling
1979

I made my way to the merchandise stand, hugging everyone I found there, overflowing with happiness. I hung out for a long time, not wanting to say goodbye. It had been such a wonderful tour that it was hard to leave for everyone. I chatted with all the guys, told Pain of Salvation I’d come and see them on the next tour. Leo asked me if I hurt my neck when Ragnar rolled over my head. It must have looked really dramatic from his point of view.

Finally I had to go though. One last hug, “see you in July” and off to the train station. Rumor has it the tour will continue in the fall. I sure hope it does. I would love to see some more shows. And if it doesn’t, I have some wonderful memories to hang on to.

On tour with Árstíðir / Pain of Salvation / Anneke van Giersbergen – 7 gigs down, none to go. Last stop: home.

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