As promised I keep you posted and add all the reports for the concerts I have recently visited. Today we are going back to my birthday which – what else? – was celebrated on a concert.
I made an appointment with the event manager of the new venue called “Arena” which was mainly build for basketball because the EnBW Ludwigsburg team is in the premier league. But the concept was also to build a small arena for other sports events and for concerts. So Markus (A&R of SUPREME CHAOS RECORDS), Tanja (Catering management for the METAL NIGHTS event series) and I wanted to check out the new venue and its possibilities. Yet, this venue might be too large for any kind of events in the size we are doing but it is always good to know what range of venues we can possibly offer as local promoter. Thomas showed us even the smallest amenity of the venue and was quite patient in answering all our questions. At some points it was kind of hard to keep cool for us when we were next to Micheal Akerfeldt who was sitting around there phoning or when standing next to the gear of John Petrucci.
Anyway after the inspection of the Arena Ludwigsburg we picked up some beers to celebrate and bridged the time gap to the concert with boozing and talking about music.
I wanted to see UNEXPECT because I liked their myspace stuff. Unfortunately they were not able to transport it onto stage. Sure, they did a great job but simply did not meet my expectations. After approx. 20 minutes they had to leave the stage. Good and very progressive start for this night. Complex, sometimes even weired songs garnished with melodic female vocals and grunts. Interesting music.
After getting another beer and meeting some people, I was surprised by the clear sound that came from the stage. BIGELF blew me straight to the wall. Not with any kind of aggression but with sheer musicality and maybe a bit of nostalgia. 70s inspired rock with a modern progressive touch convinced me with its pure authenticity. Loads of analogue synthesizers and Hammond sounds played by the singer who was surrounded by various old fashioned keyboard instruments. The four piece was dressed up in proper style with bell-bottoms. And you could see and almost feel that they were breathing this kind of music every day. Great!
One reason to visit this concert was eventually to see OPETH. The Swedes have disappointed me on the last club shows with the new line up (Frederik on guitar). But after the furious show on Rockhard festival this year I was really curious if they could prove themselves this evening. And they could! “Windowpane” is nothing but a great start for a very soulful set followed by “Lotuseater”, maybe one of the best OPETH songs ever. OPETH abstained from most extreme parts this evening and concentrated on the more progressive rock songs – maybe to fit better to the other bands. Good playing, great and this time very funny announcements from Mikael who could emphasize his great voice with these songs. The only downer was that they missed out either of their hits “Deliverance” or “Demon of the Fall”.
2. The Lotus Eater
3. Reverie/Harlequin Forest
5. The Leper Affinity
6. Hex Omega
Last time I saw DREAM THEATER they played in the Beethoven Saal of the Liederhalle in Stuttgart which is built for opera and classical concerts. The sound there was really bad because of all the reflecting walls. But in the Arena everything sounded right. Even James LaBrie did a good job and was showing a solid performance although I could not get the idea out of my head that he was behaving like a diva stepping off the stage all the time he had no vocals to do. DREAM THEATER is of course also about the musicians and their abilities. John Petrucci showed some good guitar solo stuff but he tried to keep it short. He got my sympathies for this and also for the fact that he had long hair again. And he must have done a lot of muscle training the last two years. Somehow he looked like he got out of prison right before the tour started. Of course Jordan Ruddess had his special show but looked really absurd with his wizard hat he put on for some songs. John Myung kept in the back mostly and you could hardly see anything of him. Too bad. Mike Portney of course was posing like always. My real highlight of the show was “The Mirror” / “Lie” from the “Awake” album which was played as the fluent combination like you can hear it on the album. Simply amazing. Because I am not into the “newer” stuff I cannot point out any other highlight. This might be also due to the fact that their real one and only hit song “Pull me under” was missing.
Setlist DREAM THEATER:
1. A Nightmare to Remember
2. The Mirror
4. Prophets of War
6. The Dance of Eternity
7. One Last Time
8. In the Name of God
9. The Count of Tuscany
What a nice evening and maybe the best birthday present for a music enthusiast like me. Although OPETH did not play “Deliverance” and DREAM THEATER threw aboard their hit “Pull me under” this was a great experience musical wise. But also the inspection of this new venue which was opened 1st of October made this evening unforgettable maybe even added an adventurous note.
Be sure to keep coming back. The next days I will put up the interview I did with Peter (OPETH) back in 2005…
Arena Ludwigsburg: Homepage