A weekend of lovely music

Marina V – Lichtung, Cologne; September 11th, 2015 and Marina V / Johna – Couchgeflüster, Wermelskirchen; September12th, 2015

This weekend I saw two very different Marina V concerts, the first being nice but to short and the second one totally amazing. Both were worth the trip, but the second night blew the first right out of the water regarding sound, location, audience, length and last but not least other band of the night. In Cologne, Marina was supporting Gilmore & Roberts while she was the main act in Wermelskirchen and being supported by Johna. It was a wonderful weekend that reminded me why it is important to check out new music from time to time and that there are still amazing bands out there that I have never seen live.

Cologne is one of the cities I love going to for a concert, because I’ve never seen a bad show or a bad audience there. It’s also quite easy to reach so out of two possible Marina V concerts the one in Cologne was what I opted for. The last time I’d seen her was in Tucson, where she supported Árstíðir. When she told me then that she’d play in Germany in September I was rather surprised to find out that both of these concerts were in my general area. Arrived at Lichtung in good time before it started and got to pick a seat in front row. The location was lovely with some of the coolest paintings I’ve seen in a while. When I got there, it was still pretty empty, but luckily it filled up a bit before the show started. I had promised Marina I’d be there and she greeted me with hugs as soon as she spotted me.

It didn’t take long before one of the venue’s employees walked on stage and announced Marina. She sat down at the piano, greeted us and started playing. It was all sorts of beautiful, and full of emotions. She told little stories in-between and often asked us questions, e.g. if we knew what “Babushka” meant, explaining that in the US many people think it’s a head scarf when it’s actually the word for grandmother. The was one of the Russian songs she played, the other one being a folk song that she sang a cappella. All the other songs were in English, but I cannot remember all of them. “Run” was one, “Sunshine guaranteed” and “You make me beautiful” were others. For “Light up the dark” Marina asked everyone to sing along and people gladly complied. She ended her set with “Speak” on my request. <3

The funniest moment of the night was the guy who sat on the sofa and got up to dance during the second song. He apparently enjoyed it and Marina joked about him being her “dancing husband”. I loved every song and would have liked to hear more. Judging by the applause and the people talking to Marina after, many others had enjoyed it too. We chatted for a bit and when Gilmore & Roberts started we retreated to the front of the café with Marina’s friend Nadine and Elke, who want to organize a bigger Germany tour next year. While the band was playing in the background, we entertained ourselves with a few games of table soccer. It was fun. On the way home I decided that I had to be in Wermelskirchen the next day, because 30 Minutes of this music were just  not enough and I wanted to hear Nadine’s band Johna as well.

Setlist (incomplete)

Light up the Dark
You make me beautiful
Sunshine guaranteed
Russian folk song

pictures of this concert

Thus, the following day I took the longish trip to Wermelskirchen via train, S-bahn and bus. I left Dortmund in the sun, but arrived to heavy rain. It was lucky though, because nobody wanted to leave me standing outside and I got to have pre show Dinner with Marina and Nadine and Kolja of Johna. It was yummy! Afterwards we went to the small cafe the concert was in with a little stage and chairs everywhere. It felt and looked much like a living room and held maybe 50 people. All seats filled up quickly and excited chatter was going on prior to the concert. The location alone put a happy smile on my face and it only grew bigger during the course of the evening. 🙂

After a short announcement Johna started the evening. I didn’t really have time to check out their music beforehand, but I immediately love what I heard. Kolja played piano, Nadine played guitar beautifully. There music ranged from softly to powerful and drew everyone in from the start. I forgot the world around me and just listened. They told stories with their lyrics and sometimes in-between the songs too, they talked to the audience and generally created a warm and cozy atmosphere. Nadine joked about mixing English with German after speaking English for several days and in the next sentence she did just that which made Kolja and the audience laugh. We heard about them recording in LA and about Nadine’s trip to Vancouver where she ended up walking through a part of town that everyone had warned her about. They turned stories from their daily lives into songs with the emotions translating well into the music.

Johna treated us to a brand new song named “Angel undercover” from their upcoming album saying they’d record it unless we really disliked it. We didn’t, it was wonderful. After they’d played most of their set they asked Sihna Maagé to join them on stage for a few of her songs. She sat down at the piano while Kolja took over the bassdrum. Her voice and music amazed me. It was the biggest surprise of an evening that has no shortage of surprises. She played two songs “Chains” and “Summerlove” with Johna, only to be called back for an encore. Sihna explained that she had written the following song “White Horse” when she was 15. She was great and I would have loved to hear more. I loved hearing more of Johna just as much though. They were really good and very likeable as well. For the sing along part they divided the audience “Now the women only. Now the people with glasses. Now only this guy here at the front.” They asked his name too and he was called upon a few more times. 😉 Johna too, got to play an encore and everyone was still wanting more when they ended. Their set alone was worth the long trip to the concert.


My heart still beats
Your love
Street on fire
Run for cover
Without you
5 hours
Angel undercover
White horse

Giving up
It all started so early (?)

After a short break it was Marina’s turn. She started with the Russian and English version of “Run” and immediately captivated everyone in the room. The sound was great and her singing was amazing. <3 We listened intently from the very first note, no matter if she was playing or chatting with us. Her smile was so contagious it reflected on all the faces in the room and she made sure to involve everyone. I alternated between laughing and being close to tears during most of her set. It was a wonderful emotional roller coaster bringing flashbacks and memories of my birthday concert in Tucson as well.

Each note Marina played or sang that night was just right, no matter if she was playing piano or guitar and which language she was singing it. She made me forget about the world around me and I lost my sense of time too. She announced “You make me beautiful” by explaining how she moved to the US and fell in love with the American optimism, before she fell in love with a boy and how they now write songs together. She often spoke about having two homes as well. The audience responded with great cheers and much attention depending on what the performance called for. We were hanging on to every word she sang or spoke.

After some melancholia she introduced “Sunshine guaranteed” as a really happy song. We even got to hear a premiere, because it was the first time she and Nadine performed the new song “Back again” they had written together. Awesome! She asked us again to participate and sing along to “Light up the dark” which we gladly did. It sounded great too. Once again Marina played requests, this time for the people who had traveled furthest to see her. One was “Fairytale or not”, the other one a killer version of Guns ‘n’ Roses’ “Don’t Cry” – I have no words to describe it.

Towards the end of her set she played another Russian song, full of melancholia again, explaining that “Russia does not do happy”. She also told us that she puts all her negative and sad emotions into songs and thus stays happy. We clapped and cheered for encores as soon as she had left the stage after the main set. Someone asked for another positive song and she promised it had a positive message before playing ‘Speak’. The audience still would not let her go and she ended with ‘Hello’. Everyone still wanted more, but it ended there. Slowly I landed in reality again, happy i had gone to this concert.

Spent some time chatting with Marina and Nadine afterwards and thanked Sihna for her songs as well. Many people talked to them and some bought CDs too. Everyone sounded happy and satisfied with what they had heard. After a while I gave Marina one last hug and left, promising I’d come back to see her next year. Luckily, R., whom I’d met before the concert at the door, drove me to the train station in Leverkusen from where it’s easy to get back to Dortmund. We chatted excitedly all the way. It was a lovely ending to the night. Still high on happiness, I took the train home.

Setlist (incomplete)

Run / Begu
You make me beautiful
Don’t cry
Light up the Dark
Back again
My Star ?
Sunshine guaranteed
Killing my dream ?
Fairytale or not
Russian song
Going home


pictures of this concert

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