SILBERMOND - PALLADIUM, COLOGNE, GERMANY May 22nd 2009
You know how it is when you go abroad and discover some new music that is unknown in the UK and it turns out to be a little gem. Well, I made such a discovery 3 years ago in the form of German Band Silbermond but never thought I would get the opportunity to see them live, particularly as they only sing in the German language. Silbermond were formed in 2000 but only really hit the big time in 2004 opening for another big act and then also played the German leg of Live 8 in 2008. They have had 2 number ones, 2 number one albums including the recently released “Nichts Passiert” (Nothing’s Happening), and a string of awards including Best Live Act. The group consists of Thomas Stolle on Guitar, Johannes Stolle on Bass, Andreas Nowak on Drums and the little firecracker of a lead singer - Stefanie Kloß.
Located in a converted former industrial area of the city, the Palladium is, in effect, a converted warehouse, rectangular in shape about 100m long by about 25metres wide with a narrow first floor balcony following the perimeter of the converted auditorium. With all the pipes and steel support beams it provided very edgy venue for an edgy power rock performance for arguably Germany’s best rock band. Their set proved to be a heady mix of enthusiastic energetic up-tempo rock, passionately sung melodic power ballads, and the occasional quieter reflective songs sung on acoustic.
The opening saw all four band members come right to the front of the stage, two of whom, bashed out the rhythms each on a single Tom Tom Drum for the first number “Alles Gute liegt vor dir” (Everything Good lies before you) a great song with an positive message as a pick-me up for those feeling low, (not that I noticed too many of those in the enthusiastic crowd). Then going back to their place and we were into the concert proper with “Bist du Dabei” (Are you there) that crossed soaring U2-esque soaring guitar riffs with a modern new wave feel of bands like The Killer or The Bravery. “Nichts Passiert” had an edgy frantic edgy feel somewhere between indie and hard rock.
Stephanie Kloss’s sheer joie de vivre was exhilarating as she bounded around the stage and the walkway that extended out some 10 meters into the audience but the 2 ¼ hour concert produced many other highlights. During “Krieger des Lichts” (Warriors of Light) – a call to arms for all the good people in the world to come forward, there was a light show of swaying hands with lighters and mobile phones. “Meer Sein” (Become an Ocean) from 2nd album “Laut Gedacht” (Thought Aloud) dabbled in some great hard rock riffs and “Nicht mein Problem” gave us some grungy social commentary on the ills of today’s society. The band did not confine themselves either to just the main stage, either. During an instrumental break, Stefanie and , I think , Thomas made their way round a side passage and suddenly appeared mid-way down the hall and sang a couple of acoustic numbers. “Symphonie”, Silbermond first hit proved a very charming ballad. Then, a bit later in the show Stephanie left the stage for a second time in what must have been the longest crowd surface I ever seen at least 50 metres each way. There was a comic touch during “Wenn Die Anderen” (When the others…) where an unlikely looking couple were dragged up from the audience by Stefanie and made to sing the chorus “Seit ihr schön am Ende oder fangen wir ernst an” (Are you already finished or are we just getting started?). The quality of their singing sounded more like the former than the latter and more suited to the local karaoke bar. That said the rest of show was great. Johaness Stolle came out did a 5 minutes funky bass guitar solo and was then joined by the two others boys and then morphed into the tune into “We Will Rock You”. The crowd themselves at times launched into verses of “Schlagermusik” (a kind of middle of the road old style Eurovision music to which Stefanie accompanied them. Stephanie was put on the spot when, quite impromptu the band started to play Lenny Kravitz “Fly Away” and she had to sing the words in English from memory. During “Das Beste” (The Best), which is a love song and a former German No1. She became emotional and visibly overcome when the whole crowd sang along.
Silbermond do a fair bit of charitable work and this proved a worthy introduction to the penultimate ultra- humanist song In Zeiten Wie Diesen (In Times Like These) with its rejection of selfishness, greed and destructive forces. Unendlich, (Unending) one of the most beautiful poetically lyrically ballads I ever heard, would have melted the heart of even the hardest man. Mid-way through the song soulfully mournful high octave guitar chords screeched out bringing an absorbing show climax. By the end, I suddenly get it. Silbermond’s music is inspirational. It fuses classic rock elements with a touch of Indie and a dash of Metal as well as power ballads. But what I get the most is that Silbermond are about encouraging the positive side of human nature - inspirational. How many bands can you really that about, nowadays? Its probably wishful thinking but I look forward to seeing them in London sometime in the future.
Very relaxed but then German crowds are quite well behaved.
Venue was a converted warehouse in an old industrial area of the city, ideal for rock bands- very edgy, yet strangely clean and well run. a bit far to walk though.