As some of you might have noticed, I really love traveling across Europe to attend small or big festivals of Goth/dark music. Nevertheless I hadn’t made up my mind about which gigs to attend in 2016… It was Carsten & Renate (Sweet Ermengarde), Jörg & Steffe (The Escape) and Hanna & Michael Nowakowski and their “Dark Skies over Witten II” fest, that made me consider traveling to Germany once again.
The line up seemed great since he had booked my beloved “The Last Cry”, the Neph-heroes of the underground “Sweet Ermengarde”, the legends of the German goth/wave scene “The Escape” and the promising newcomers “La Scaltra”!
This trip would be absolutely memorable not just for the great shows, but also because of my good old friend Ingo from The Escape, who generously offered me his hospitality and proved to be the perfect host in Bueren and Padderborn.
The festival would take place at Excalibur bar, a medieval-style pub in Witten. In its many rooms, one could see steel-clad armors, medieval weaponry, chairs and tables. To put it in a few words, the place resembled the interior of a castle! Excellent choice for a “goth” gig, don’t you think? The capacity of the club was around 150 people and later on I heard that the festival turned out a completely sold out gig! Once again I was really glad to come across some good old friends from all over Europe, people that share the same passion with me…
So…it was around 19:00 o’clock when the newcomers La Scaltra came on stage. The band plays an interesting mixture of dark wave and goth rock with a minimal touch in their sound. Melodic female vocals and a powerful rhythm section are two of their assets. We are talking about a female duo with Aeleth & Diane on vocals plus 2 special friends of their on the guitar and bass. The band performed for about 40 minutes, playing their debut album in its entirety. They easily managed to capture the audience. Also, their light show was brilliant since Frank the light-bringer of Merciful Nuns was involved. When they got off stage everyone seemed to be full of compliments for La Scaltra and their haunting tunes!
Well done guys and girls, or rather girls and guys!
Visions of Glass
Next one on the bill was The Escape. Actually they were the main reason for me to join this fest. I am listening to their tunes for 20 years and never had the chance to catch them on stage until now, since they are not performing live very often. The Escape is a band that stands out for its great sense of melody and their elaborate way of combining powerful guitar parts, melodic piano lines, atmosperic synths, electronic elements and anthemic vocals in their songs. During the last months their guitarist Heiko (a founding member) had to leave the band for personal reasons, so Ingo had to undertake the second guitar parts as well. Although they only performed for 50 minutes, they managed to include songs from all of their releases in their set. They played tunes like the Epic “Waiting for John Wayne” taken from their debut album (a song that has never been left out from their sets through the years), dancefloor hits like “Tears in December” and “The End of Days”, slow tempo melodic anthems like “This Life” and the brilliant piano version of “Time of Tension”. They also played songs that they had never presented live before like “Conspiracy” (a personal favorite) or “I Wonder Why” taken from their 7′ vinyl of 2007. Unfortunately fantastic songs like “Devil Dance” or “Manderlay” -although originally included in their set- were not performed due to the strict time schedule.
Ingo and his boys produced a crystal clear live sound and were just amazing on stage! The guitar duo of Ingo and Randy was really well-worked and Thomas‘ keyboards enriched the beauty of the songs. I can surely admit that after so many years, Ingo is still one of the few well-dressed goth frontmen in the scene. Overall The Escape put up an outstanding show, even if it was rather short for a band of their magnitude. Nevertheless, I was absolutely delighted to see these goth heroes on stage at last! Truly excellent in all aspects…
Where Have you Been
Tears in December
Waiting for John Wayne
House of Mind
Time of Tension (piano version)
The End of Days
I Wonder Why
After a small break the Nephilim-lovers of the underground, were ready to hit the stage! Sweet Ermengarde lost their charismatic singer Kuba last year and were patiently looking for his replacement. Daniel was the one that took his place and after listening to their second album I can easily admit that they made a hell of a choice. This guy is equally good with Kuba… if not better! “Ex Oblivione” was one of the best releases of the current year for me. This album is so good that I often think that if the Nephs had actually released this album themselves, everyone would be talking about the return of the decade….
I was anxious to see how this line up would work on stage and how Daniel would perform their new songs, as well as the ones from the first album. When they started their show I was shocked (in the best possible way) and -as i figured out later on- I wasn’t the only one. The guys took me back to the atmosphere of “Visionary Heads”… Frank’s magnificent light-show helped a lot too!
Daniel’s voice was as good as on the studio recordings!! He passionately sung both new and old songs!! Mike and Danny on the guitars were just perfect, while Lars with his Nephilimesque bass lines filled the songs with a 90’s “Elizium” mood! This was my 3rd Sweet Ermengarde gig and I can confirm that this band is one of the few that really perform LIVE… besides their recorded keyboards of course. Definitely one of the best goth rock live bands nowadays!
From Beyond (Sleep is Better than Prayer)
A Promise to Fulfill
For this Moment
Tender Russian Roulette
Dead of Night
After a last break, the time had come for the headliners to conquer the stage! The Last Cry from the UK were up next and their passionate show had just hit us like a whirlwind! I can’t really be objective when i’m writing about these guys, since I am a huge fan of theirs. Their wave/goth sound with its post-punk attitude filled the space with energy! The whole club was jumping and singing for about an hour, completely enchanted by Tim, Chris and the one and only Andrew, the voice master! If there is one word that best describes these guys, this word is …TALENT, pure talent! They played songs from all of their releases and singles and even a new one, to be included in their forthcoming album that will hit the stores in August! Unfortunately they had to drop “song about” from their setlist due to lack of time, but their show was so mind blowing by all means!
The Night that I saw you
This Future has no Face
Life of Lies
Truth & Lies
To Dream Next to You
Walking to the Edge
Concluding I would like to congratulate Carsten & Renate (Sweet Ermengarde), Jörg & Steffe (The Escape), Hanna & Michael Nowakowski with this brilliant mini festival which offered us almost 5 hours of pure goth action! Until the next time…. Long Live the goth rock Underground !
pics by Oliver Krapp
videos by me & Angeliki Delli