Location: Tanzbrunnen, Cologne (Germany)
By: Sabine van Gameren & Nina Mende
A brand new edition of Amphi festival was about to start. A jubileum actually, ten years existence for the festival is surely something to be proud of.
Opening the festival was honoured for the band The Juggernauts. What comes to notice is that a whole lot of people are already at the festival area when the band starts, so it is good to see that even the first couple of bands have a large audience while playing. The Juggernauts came on stage with their dark helmets on. With the reflection of the festival in their eyes, their expressions remain a mystery for the audience, but their music expresses it wildly. With some walking up and down the stage that summarizes their show. It is not that you will see something crazy with the band surely draw the attentions with their helmets. Musically, the band brought a solid set which made their show a worthy start of the day.
Phosgore was the first act in the Staatenhaus. The band came with their debut album in 2009 and brought up a reputation of being a live sensation. Which is exactly what people were expecting as the whole hall was filled already and people took their dance positions even before the band started. And when they do it may become clear that the band brings something across. People are dancing but it are as much the words that are put into it that make the impression. Frontman Flo walks over the stage with attitude and air balancing on the line of cocky, yet not crossing it makes that the band remains with all these fans enjoying their music. It seems a thin line that’s drawn, but it shows the skill of the band to stay in control of it.
The Turkish formation sets some surprises down the stage. New Wave they make and perhaps they were not the most expectable band right here. Bands like The Sisters of Mercy were obviously a strong inspiration for these guys as that really comes forward in their sound. Therefore you sometimes have to look a bit further to find in what the band brings in themselves but the guys have got a little refining within them to make the sound slightly more apart. Currently the band is touring a lot and a second full length album, which follows up their 2012 debut “Belirdi Gece”, is to be expected in the fall of this year.
|The German EBM band Centhron was the second band to play in the Staatenhaus at this year’s Amphi Festival. For forty minutes the band got the audience warmed up. People still seemed a little tired at first, but raved and danced along to the music. Centhron was here with three people, one of them was a female keyboard player wearing a latex overall dancing behind the keyboard. The singer was jumping around on the stage, shouting the lyrics with distorted vocals. He was also playing with the audience by coming up to them, singing a bit and then moving on. It was a quite energetic performance that the band did.|
Clan of Xymox are known to be a stable factor when it comes to live shows. They never disappoint and they did not do that either this time. At the mainstage the band has a whole following ready for them to be played. The band is never really an active one, but with the way they present themselves and their music they can make the words and the sounds come alive so more vivid. Songs that stand out today are “In Love We Trust” and the always strong “Emily”. With fifteen studio albums on their name there were plenty to choose from and Clan of Xymox made a good mix of what the audience knows and here and there a little more surprising track.
|The Neon Judgement is a Belgian New Wave duo that continued in the Staatenhaus with their mellow music. The dim light and the fog supporting the calm and dark atmosphere the guys were spreading. The guys did not move around too much on stage but instead focused more on their music and to set the right vibes. Which worked well. The audience fell into a swaying state quite fast, following the music. Only stopping between the songs to clap and cheer. The forty minutes went by quick.|
|Lord of the Lost became quite popular in the past years and so their fan base had grown a lot. No wonder that the place was crowded as the German rock band entered the Mainstage. The band member’s bodies were painted in black, only the singer was covered in white body paint. The fans went insane as the band entered the stage. Screaming and shouting, singing along to all songs. The band played old and news songs, plaing with the audience during their show by pointing at them, coming up to the fans and reaching out. The fans highly appreciated it and cheered out loud each time.|
|Zeromancer is back. It’s been a while since their last performance. So everyone was happy to see them again at this year’s Amphi Festival. The Norwegian synth pop band was happy to be back on stage and so were the fans. It felt like a family reunion that was long overdue. The bass player Kim greeted everyone in perfect German and used the gap between songs to tell stories. The singer Alex, who had turned blond these days, was dancing around like he used to and was talking to the audience here and there too. The songs were catchy and got everyone to sing and dance along. Moat of the songs were older hits, a few songs were new though. So we all hope they will be back on tour soon, maybe even including a new release.|
Corvus Corax is a band that brings a show. If you don’t like the music, you might be entertained by seeing the most extended versions of their instruments, a medieval approach to a show full of entertainment. The band are no strangers to this stage, they are to be found at the stage almost every year and have their own specific fan base who seem to follow them extensively. Today they started of quite calm and slowly bring some domination into the area, the band seem to have great joy in bringing their show which works contagiously on those watching. A stable factor, a band that always brings people to the festival but if you have seen them before and you are not a die-hard fan the whole becomes perhaps too familiar. Yes it looks great, but we have seen this before. So while the band played a good show an only minor point of critique is there to be found.
Aesthetic Perfection was not missing at this year’s Amphi either. The trio filled the Staatenhaus long before they actually entered the stage. And as they did the excitement was huge. The singer Daniel had his face painted white and lipstick smeared around his mouth. Wearing a hat he looked like a mime. Some of his gestures reminded of Freddy Kruger though. The drummer Tim had his face painted black and white, drumming his mind out while the keyboarder looked fairly normal but was also going mental behind his instrument. The catchy industrial sounds dragged everyone in the venue along. No one was standing still. Most were even singing along to the music. Aesthetic Perfection played a collection of their best music while the singer was using up the entire stage as dance floor and theater stage to act out some of the songs. This way it was impossible to take your eyes off the stage. What a brilliant performance. Always a must see.
The Mexican Hocico is one that stole the hearts of most Amphi fans. A regular at the festival have seen many memorable shows of Hocico as well as from Erk’s other project Rabia Sorda. Today they start with some simple guitar songs to entertain the audience, a full turn on what the band makes themselves, but it certainly works to bring the mood into the festival. When they are gone the actual show starts. Erk and Rasco are there to bring their fascinating Aggrotech to the place and they manage to surprise us with their set as they always have some sort of surprise in there. Perhaps it is mainly the choice of the songs played that caused our surprise, but whatever that was, the band shows that they bring variation. And that it is still worth to go and see them time after time. That is what makes Hocico one of the most loved acts of the day, they simply can’t do much wrong here.
Enfant terrible Nachtmahr was also invited to the festival and seems ready for a great show. They are known to have a large group of haters as much as they have lovers to their followings, but today it looked quite in their advance. Frontman Thomas has quite some issues to spit out and the audience is on his lips. From “Kriegserklärung” to “Mädchen in Uniform” the band does not hold back for a second and in contradiction to the show we saw last year from the band they seem quite tight with their whole show. Definitely a show that the band was looking forward to and while the fans enjoy it, the haters had the option to stay away from Staatenhaus and enjoy themselves elsewhere.
Blutengel. We all know that the band gives a show, a performance. Simply something to watch while listening to their Gothic song. We have enjoyed it several times before at the festival and the band never disappoints. But who would have thought what would happen today? The band shows up with the “Monument” ensemble to give their show some extra dynamic. What can we say? Well one word would describe it all very well: wow! Sure the band is not the first and surely not the last who invites some classical trained musicians to join their music but not always it works out as great as it did here. Of course it helps that the band also kept the visual aspect of it all in mind, making the whole a wonderful picture to observe but it is clear that their songs are arranged well to work with this ensemble. About thirteen songs were played and yet we wished we could have seen more, no we never thought Blutengel would top their own great live shows as much as they did here today. Memorable!
|The Belgian industrial band The Klinik were entering the stage wearing masks, just like they usually do. Somehow they reminded of Vendetta or Anonymous. It was getting late already and the people were in the mood for some dancing. So the thriving industrial sounds by The Klinik was just perfect for them. The band did not move around too much on stage but were totally in their own world. And the audience joined. The distorted voice of the singer added something mechanical to the music. The Klinik did not talk to the audience a whole lot between songs,but nobody cared. Dim light and fog gave the final touch to the bands dark and thriving music. The audience went wild.|
Front 242 is another Belgian EBM band that was playing today. These guys got to play at the Mainstage, which was open air. One of few EBM and industrial bands outside today. Unfortunately they started off with quite some technical difficulties right after the first song. It took them while to get it fixed which was really a bummer: The audience and their fans were all excited to see Front242 again and just wanted to get warm dancing to the music as it went off. By the time Front 242 had fixed the issues they had taken off the masks they came on stage with before and were pretty cool about it, talking and joking with the audience. But once everything was working again, everyone went wild. Dancing around, not standing still for a moment, singing along and cheering out loud big time for the band. Most of the fans in the audience have been Front242 followers for ages so it felt like a big family reunion. The band talked to the audience quite a lot, joked in between and had a good time playing their catchy industrial tunes. What a great evening.
Oh what we were looking forward to see Midge Ure perform. He is probably most known as the singer from Ultravox but have been in various great music projects. Today’s setlist was obviously focused on Ultravox and that seem to hit the ground. The audience seem quite wild, more than we have seen them before they were singing along and applauding. Of course the big hits as “Vienna”, “One Small Day” and “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” were the big attraction but from each song played you could feel the warm-hearted words of Midge being absorbed by the audience. Whether you were dancing, jumping, singing along or simply watching the show, the music will touch your heart. At the end the audience tried to get the band back on stage for an encore, but unfortunately the band could not return for more as the time was simply too short. Yet this was one of the shows that was our favourites of the whole festival through the years!
Camouflage, the band has quite some years on counter as in 1988 their debut album saw light. The synthpop formation is active still and seems eager to entertain the audience tonight. However the band has still some audience it is clear some people were getting ready for afterparties already or went for an early quit. The band actually has a whole new album ready but unfortunately the dates got postponed. We will have to wait until February 2015 to see what the band brings next, but luckily we get to see some of the Camouflage classics. A quite energetic performance was there to witness for us and it must be said that the band brings their songs quite tight. It seems like they are doing it every day, though the tour schedule seems to be quite empty until the album comes out as well. Nevertheless, the band played a good set and shows us that we have to keep our curiousity up for the release of their album in February.
Photo’s and text of following bands by sabinevangameren.com:
The Juggernauts, Phosgore, She Past Away, Clan of Xymox, Corvus Corax, Hocico, Nachtmahr, Blutengel, Midge Ure, Camouflage
Photo’s and text of following bands by Nina Mende:
Centhron, The Neon Judgement, Lord of the Lost, Zeromancer, Aesthetic Perfection, The Klinik, Front 242
Day 2 of Amphi Festival will be online HERE
Amphi Festival website