An Early Summer Night’s Eve in Leipzig
The summer season is here and with the balmy nights there are two ways in which live events change. Firstly, they move out into the open. Secondly, they stretch out into the whole night and show many faces. Yes, I am talking about festivals. The first appetisers that I had in that direction both took place on a Friday, two weeks ago, at the Parkbühne at the Clara-Zetkin-Park and the Täubchenthal, respectively. The latter mentioned, relatively young venue was the place to be to celebrate the local university radio station, Mephisto, which has been in existence for a whopping twenty years.
But first things first, for starters I had chosen to see the venerable German band Element of Crime. When I cycled to the summer stage erected at Clara Park, I passed quite a number of people on blankets who crowded the grassy spots within earshot. Inside, I was greeted by an age-wise very mixed audience. Most people looked to me like fans of the first hour, which means in their fifties like most of the band members. Since it had rained during the day, the presence of functional rain jackets amounted to at least 45%. The rest of the crowd looked decidedly artsier.
My only preparation for the concert had been a few thorough listens to their latest album (“Lieblingsfarben und Tiere“); unfortunately I had only skimmed their previous works. This did not, however, stop me from relishing their show. Their often gritty (“Weißes Papier“), mostly wistful (“Vier Stunden vor Elbe 1“) every-day lyrics never lack subtle humour. Maybe I exaggerate when I compare them to the Northern English kitchen sink drama movement, which spawned such cult classics as Joy Division, later Pulp and in recent years the Arctic Monkeys and The Wombats.
Element of Crime are a band as old as me, which means they started their career when Wave was all the rage. Their founder Sven Regener originally came from Bremen (maybe this localisation in North Germany, along with their famous song “Delmenhorst“, put this oversimplified notion of Northernness in my head, but let’s leave it at the fact that Regener speaks with a charming Northern German accent) and quickly moved to Berlin to pursue a musical career. At first, they sang in English, before they decided to embrace their mother tongue, like many other German bands did in the early Nineties. In honour of the then still recent WGT festival, the band presented the Leipzig audience with a song from their early English stage. It was entitled “Nightmare“, very long and compared to the German works, I must say the title was quite apt. It lacked the trademark charm of the great aforementioned lyrics by Sven Regener, who is also playing the trumpet in between the words, if he is not strumming his guitar.
The Parkbühne concert-goers celebrated their performance with frenetic applause, ear-piercing whistles and, at many points in the show, swaying to the music like there was no tomorrow, especially to the lines of the rather simplistic yet stirring “Kaffee und Karin”, which worked very well live. I would have been very disappointed if they hadn’t bidden us farewell with a song from the recent album, “Dieselben Sterne”. The chorus consists of the line “über mir, über dir, dieselben Sterne”, but thanks to the clouds there were no stars to see that night.
Check back in two weeks for “Act II” of this series, where I will tell you about the Mephisto radio station celebration at Täubchenthal. And keep checking our #Music column for more Leipzig summertime offerings. Towards late summer, I will be giving an album review of Sophie Hunger to whet your appetite for her September 5th concert in Leipzig, also at the Parkbühne.