|Lyriel - Highlight of the festival|
After getting up at 8am (groan!) for breakfast, we spent an enjoyable morning wandering around Hameln - a very pleasant little town, slightly touristy, the central area very close within the old town walls, with plenty of interesting things to see. Then, fortified by bread on a stick from the market, off to Sumpfblume to start another day's music.
First up were Diabulus in Musica, a band who weren't in the original advertised lineup, I think, so we had no idea what they'd be like. As it turned out they were surprisingly good: a Spanish band playing orchestral-style FFM with a very pregnant-looking lead singer. Quite how she could sing like that with what must have been a pretty immobile diaphragm is a mystery. But they were an unexpected treat. The video clip above is very short and has poor sound, but it does nicely illustrate the singer's condition. Like many bands I enjoy, their sound includes light and dark, heavy and soft. If you click on the band name above and scroll to the bottom of the page there are some videos which give a better idea of their music.
After them we stayed in the Sumpfblume for Ravenscry, another FFM band from the Mediterranean, this time from Italy. They'd seemed quite reasonable on the preview video, but live they were painful. Bass and twin guitars all turned up to 11 on both fuzz and volume. No colour, no inventiveness and no sign of originality in the first two songs, so we left them to it.
Across to the Rattenfängerhalle for some supposed cyberpunk-rock, with Dope Stars Inc. Actually fairly generic punk-pop, even emo-pop: heavy on eyeliner and hype, light on originality. Okay, but not exciting.
Staying put, we had a change in style with Clan of Xymox, a kind of gothic OMD: 80's synth-rock, or maybe pomp-rock, brought slightly more up-to-date. Not really my thing but actually done quite well, I thought. In fact, they reminded me that I quite liked OMD back in the day.
I'm starting to get very tired at this point, so it was handly that the next band we wanted to see, Mythemia, were back in the Schiff, where I hoped to get a bit of a sit-down. No chance! Storytelling folk in a mix of German and English, based around myths and legends (hence the name, I guess), so lively and well-played there was no way I could stay sat down at the back. Brilliant, a real treat! If you get a chance to see them yourself, then do.
We had thought about about heading back to the Rattenfängerhalle next to see Leaves Eyes, the one band at the festival that we had seen before: Scandinavian symphonic FFM, with a new album out which had been receiving good reviews. But I was just totally shot, and going nowhere.
So we stayed on the boat and watched Laura Carbone instead; I'm really pleased we did, although I ended up back on my feet again. She's a female indie-rock singer, reminiscent to me of Sheryl Crow in her vocal style. But what really got me going was the band she had with her. They were just fantastic: the drummer and guitarist would start off doing drummy and guitary things but then just veer off in all sorts of strange directions and somehow the bass player would keep the whole thing together in a cohesive and exciting whole. Just wonderful: live music at its best!
Time for a sit-down and a bite to eat before I simply fell over where I stood.
Then to the Rattenfängerhalle for a band I'd been looking forward to: Beyond the Black. In the videos I had previewed they played quality melodic FFM, with hints of folkiness: very enjoyable. In the flesh they were a disappointment. Not too bad but a long way short of what I'd hoped for. Apart from the singer the band just seemed to lack musicality. Nearly all the time they had all the instruments playing basic rhythm and no-one doing anything vaguely interesting with it. The vocalist was undoubtedly good, and when she played piano she made it interesting, but I don't know what happened to the rest of the band. A bad day at the office, perhaps.
Then off to Sumpfblume for Schwarzer Engel. Male-fronted operatic metal, okay in the preview video, if a little generic. Live they were more sledgehammer metal than operatic, but within that context surprisingly decent. Worth seeing, but not worth going out of one's way for, really.
By now it's close to midnight and I'm getting worried about whether Lyriel will be worth all the effort. After all we'd never seen them in the flesh, and Beyond the Black had just illustrated that bands don't always live up to their recorded promise when they're live. It would have been a long way to travel to see a disappointing band.
I needn't have worried. Half-eleven and the band come onstage, dressed in strange white masks - I've no idea why - and burst into Skin & Bones, the title track from their new album. Straight in with energy and presence, it was great! We were right at the front and their sound was beautifully balanced - cello, violin, guitar, bass, drums and, of course, voices, all coming through with clarity and vigour - and they played with great style and energy.
One advantage of a band with a violinist is that they can lead a dance around the venue - not quite a pied piper, more a dancing fiddler, but great fun nonetheless.
All in all, Lyriel were an absolutely wonderful climax to a brilliant festival, and an amazing way to celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary.