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posts about concerts.

last weekend we visited freiburg in germany, to attend a concert by reinhard mey. the concert took part in a huge exhibition hall. seating around 4140 persons according to the hall’s homepage, it was one of the hugest concerts i’ve been at (excluding concerts in stadiums where everyone was standing). since reinhard mey plays all by himself – only he, his guitar and his voice –, there wasn’t that much to see from where we were seated (and that was still far from the back of the hall). but then, the music counts. and the music was great!

on the next day, we explored freiburg. freiburg is quite beautiful and mostly pedestrian friendly, even though it’s currently crowded with construction sites. (most important consequence is that the trams cannot go to the old city center anymore.) later, we travelled to the schauinslandbahn, a gondola tramway going up a mountain called schauinsland by over 700 meters to a total elevation of 1284 meters. we had a quite beautiful view from there! too bad i didn’t bring any good camera with me… (the fairphone‘s camera isn’t precisely good… even a bit worse than an iphone4 camera. but well, i didn’t buy it for its camera :) )

last wednesday, i was with a friend at another concert in the z-7. according to orphaned land‘s singer kobi farhi, this concert was part of the first (european?) oriental metal tour ever. the tour features four bands: the french hardcore/punk/metal band artweg, the tunesian progressive metal band myrath, the algerian/french melodic death metal band arkan as well as the israelian progressive death metal band orphaned land.
the opening band, artweg, wasn’t my personal favorite, mostly because i’m not that much into hardcore. nonetheless, they delivered a very good stage show. the second band was myrath from tunesia (according to encyclopaedia metallum, the first tunesian (metal?) band to be signed on a label). they are playing very progressive metal, and influences from bands like symphony x and dream theater are very audible, but also their oriental influences. this band is really fantastic, and made me buy their two albums which were available on the merch stand ;-) after myrath, arkan entered the stage. during the first song, there were only screamed male vocals, which i didn’t liked too much, but as soon as their female singer entered the stage and the vocal quality increased a lot :-) from that point on, i really enjoyed their music. i ended up buying one of their albums as well… finally, orphaned land entered the stage. i’ve been waiting for some years to finally see them live, and i have to say that it was totally worth it. (no need to buy albums here, since i already have them all ;-) )
one thing i felt really bad about was that the concert was very poorly attended. there were maybe little over 50 attendees, in a hall which fits many hundreds. this was really a shame, as the concert was – at least for me – probably the best one this year. i really hope the bands are more lucky at their other gigs!

monday evening i was in pratteln, attending a concert of blackfield (art rock) and north atlantic oscillation (post-prog, electronic). it was a very nice concert. i haven’t seen north atlantic oscillation before, but i was positively surprised, and afterwards bought their latest album. blackfield was good as always. they played quite long, and played all my favorite songs from the old albums, as well as songs from their new albums. i think they played every song i presented at musikwiese, with cloudy now being the last song played.
i was really happy that i stayed until the end, even though that meant arriving only at 1 am in zürich and having to walk up a hill to eventually find my way into my bed past 1:30… i wonder if it is just me, or if the night connections between pratteln and zürich really got worse over the last years?

tonight i attended a performance of the trans-siberian orchestra here in zürich, where they played their 2000 album beethoven’s last night in its entirely, and some more songs, among them one of my favorites, grieg’s hall of the mountain king. it was an awesome show, really worth its money. i’m still surprised that i didn’t heard about this band before… i took a few pics with my mobile phone; the quality sucks, but you can get an idea of how it looked like:

interestingly, there are already the first recordings online on youtube:

[[for legal reasons, i do not want to include youtube videos here anymore. please click on this link to watch the video at youtube.]]

unfortunately, jon oliva couldn’t make it for this tour…

a week ago i attended a concert at the z-7. the first time since over two years. this concert featured five bands, starting at 18:30. i took the train to arrive at the hall at 19:00, and the first band was already done. the second was done pretty fast as well, but nonetheless this wasn’t a good start since the last train was leaving around midnight and i had to plan in a certain time to reach the train station. (in addition, the last train ride which doesn’t involve walking at least half an hour through zürich leaves around 23:00.)
anyway. i didn’t like the second band very much (maybe less than the first, if i’d heard more of the first band…) the third band, psychotic waltz, a progressive metal band from california, was pretty nice. i haven’t heard of them, which isn’t that much a surprise since they disbanded around 1998, and only recently came back together. i guess i have to check out more of their music at some point later.
after psychotic waltz, one of my most favorite bands entered the stage: nevermore. this is the second time i ever saw them. they played for one hour, including many songs from one of my favorite albums, dead heart from a dead world. unfortunately they didn’t continue playing for another hour or so :-) i really miss the good old times when concerts had at most two or maybe three bands, and the bands had much more time to play…
finally, symphony x started playing. i’ve already seen them twice, in 2007 and 2008. unfortunately, i could only listen to maybe half their set, since i had to leave for the train… they played a bit stuff from their upcoming album, iconoclast. let’s see how the whole thing will sound…
this concert was really nice… except that i had to leave before it was done. i really hade this trent to throw that many bands together, and i’m saying this at more and more concerts – since it’s happening really often, and is really annoying. something very positive about this concert is that the z-7 is now smokefree! there’s still a bit of smoke coming in from outside, but the air inside is much better than it was two years ago. this way, going to concerts is much more fun!

tuesday night, i attended a concert by the chilenian progressive doom metal band mar de grises, the islandic viking metal band sólstafir, and the finnish death doom metal band swallow the sun, held in the matrix in bochum. i went to this for two reasons: first, to see swallow the sun another time; last time i saw them was last year before christmas in leipzig. the second reason is mar de grises. i was really glad to finally have a chance to see them.
i arrived slightly late, due to bad weather, which was no problem since the concert was opened by two local bands i didn’t really wanted to see. the first one seemed to be a doom band, and i didn’t really like the second band’s music style. they both were ok, but i would have rather not seen them and heard mar de grises playing longer ;-) both opening bands were pretty much ok though, compared to many other openers i’ve seen so far…
while the openers were playing, i checked out the merchandizing booth. there was nothing new of interest in the swallow the sun section, so i inspected the mar de grises section. they had a special edition of draining the waterheart (including a 16 minute bonus track called unconscious passenger), the new album, some t-shirts, and two albums from other chilenian bands, one of them a funeral doom band called lethargy of death, a project of one of the band members. i bought the digipack, the new album, the lethargy of death album as well as the last available unconscious passenger t-shirt. some money invested well, i hoped. (and so far, i’m right about this :-) )
after the two openers, mar de grises started playing for 45 minutes. i was in the front row, which was no problem since the location wasn’t exactly stuffed, and nobody tried to be at the very front. in fact, i was like two meters away from the stage. unfortunately, the audio quality was really bad. i don’t know whose fault this was, if it was the mixing, the location, or whatever, but it was just bad. i was happy that i knew many of the songs they played, so i knew what it was supposed to sound like, so it was more a problem for sólstafir, since i heard them the first time…
well. despite the poor sound quality, mar de grises‘ performance was great. i really like this band. following mar de grises, sólstafir entered the stage. at that point, i wasn’t feeling very well, thanks to all the fucking bastards smoking inside the location. you can’t really enjoy a concert with itching eyes and having a headache. i really miss the nonsmoker protection laws i experienced in canada and other parts of europe…
i didn’t like sólstafir‘s performance too much, but i’m not sure whether this is just related to the horrible air and the awful sound quality, or if it’s their music. some time ago i listened to a couple of songs of them, and i don’t remember being disappointed back then. so maybe i have to give them another try…
finally, swallow the sun started playing. they played songs from all over their albums, which was really nice. some of my favorites, such as the giant, were played as well!
unfortunately, it seemed that the crowd got thinner and thinner. when they went off the stage before the encore, luckily enough people were still there to make some noise. they came back pretty fast, before the people started making noise and launching an awkward silence. they played descending winters, and after that the concert was over.
well. if the sound and air quality would have been better, this concert would have been really great. but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case… (but that’s not the bands’ fault…)

yesterday i attended a concert by the seattle based power metal band nevermore. (i’m not going to concerts that often anymore… the last one was opeth‘s 20th anniversary on april 1st in bochum, which i never mentioned in this blog so far it seems, and the one by moonsorrow in helsinki in march.) this one was in calgary, on a thursday evening, a concert with four bands, doors opening at 8 pm. not a good idea, in my opinion. in fact, the first band started somewhen after nine, and nevermore didn’t start until short before midnight. so much for getting up early today (my alarm clock was set to 7 in the morning for cake preparations…).
the bands playing before nevermore were (melodic death/thrash) from denmark, blackguard (folk/melodic death) from montreal and (thrash) from the u.s.
warbringer is not making exactly the kind of music i like, and neither is hatesphere, though i liked the latter more. opposed to that, blackguard was really good. (i have to listen to more of their stuff…) but i didn’t go there for the other bands, but because i finally wanted to see nevermore.
eventually, nevermore entered the stage. once again i got reminded that live versions of song sound often different than the studio versions. the show was very nice, but i would have preferred another selection of songs. i should have made more notes yesterday, then i might be able to recover the setlist they played, but i think now it’s too late to get it correct.
one very nice thing about this concert was that i didn’t notice anyone smoking on the inside. that’s really nice. (and it’s a shame that i have to note this, which means that this is not the case by defaut.)


after the stay in rovaniemi, we took the train back to helsinki and stayed a few days there as well. besides a concert of moonsorrow and korpiklaani, we visited some churches: the uspenski cathedral, the helsingin tuomiokirkko, as well as the temppeliaukio church. we were extremely happy to visit the temppeliaukio church when it was almost empty, which is apparently very unusual.

frozen harbor.

even though it was raining and the snow was melting, there was a lot of ice left in the harbor and rivers. here is a small impression of its beauty:

and here are some more pictures from the harbor area:

the sibelius monument.

we also visited the sibelius monument, a beautiful piece of modern art dedicated to the finnish composer jean sibelius. enjoy some impressions:

last year, some days before christmas, we attended a concert by swallow the sun in leipzig, germany, with support by insomnium and omnium gatherum. it was the last concert of the new moon tour. (no vampire shit, though ;-) ) you might know that swallow the sun is one of my favorite bands. they played in a small youth club, conne island, which wasn’t the easiest to find. but eventually, we found it. fortunately, nobody complained that i took my favorite toy with me; so this time, i managed to make some good photos.
i think that this concert was the best one i attended in 2009. ok, i have to admit there haven’t been many concerts in 2009 anyway. but nonetheless, this one was very good. the bands played great music and obviously had fun. (and: they played the giant, one of my favorite songs, in the encore!) unfortunately, the audience didn’t manage to sing “we want more” in finnish, so most sang a few times “zugabe” and then stopped doing anything at all, resulting in an awkward half-silence. but the band fortunately still came back.
now have fun watching some of the photos. if you want to know more about the concert, read someone else’s report ;-)

omnium gatherum.


during the concert of insomnium, members of the other bands showed up on the stage, and equiped insomnium‘s singer niilo with a funny hat and a sign saying “korpiklaani”. he eventually removed the hat by banging his head:

swallow the sun.

during swallow the sun‘s performance, members of the other bands had fun installing a pink dildo first at the keyboard and then, later, at the singer’s microphone:

as opposed to the korpiklaani “hat”, the dildo stayed there for the rest of the concert.

last week tuesday, i attended the first non-classic concert this year, namely the calgary instantiation of the progressive nation tour 2009, featuring dream theater, zappa plays zappa, bigelf and scale the summit. originally, pain of salvation and another band should have played instead of bigelf and scale the summit, but unfortunately they had to pull out due to some side effects of the financial crisis. too bad, i would really have liked to see pain of salvation.
i decided to spare my energy in particular for the last two bands, and hence skipped scale the summit. the announced timing for the concert was perfect, and so i arrived directly when bigelf began to play. they were ok, but i was more waiting for the next band. and the very bad part of the evening started during their gig (maybe even before, but i wasn’t there), namely some [insert your favorite curse word here] potheads started smoking weed. it was not as bad as last year, but still very annoying. why can’t these idiots smoke somewhere where they don’t annoy anyone? at least there was no moshpit and the crowd’s density was really pleasant.
after hearing so many good things about them, i was really happy to finally see zappa plays zappa, which is not just another frank zappa cover band, but founded and lead by one of zappas sons. (not that this makes a difference to me, as i have no comparism of zappa plays zappa to other frank zappa cover bands.) i really enjoyed their performance – even though the potheads annoyed the hell out of me.
finally, dream theater entered the stage. they played several songs from their new album, but as usual also a lot older songs, everything including some improvisation and extensions, and several solo performances between the songs.
the concert was really good, even though the potheads repeatedly tried to ruin the whole thing to me. the only way to make it better would be to throw the potheads out and re-add pain of salvation (and maybe reduce to three bands, all of which can play a bit longer in that case).