The 1990s was a great decade for music; britpop, grunge, trip hop and the Pearl Jam-esque kind of alternative rock scene were born and bands as Oasis, Nirvana, Massive Attack and the already mentioned Seattle heroes Pearl Jam came to represent a decade that has ever since been unchallenged in terms of high quality album output on these different scenes.
Alongside these scenes a new electronic club scene arised in Europe. From the beginning people fended it off as something “ridicolous“ and “not serious“ but quite quickly artists and bands on the scene gained massive fan bases and ended up at the top of the charts across Europe, and eurodance became an established scene. By the late 1990s it had morphed into an entity of its own. As Belgium, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands led the way, hardstyle basslines and poppy synths dominated airwaves across Europe and became the EDM of the 1990s.
There wasn’t a day where you could turn on the radio and have a eurodance free hour; artists as E-Type, Dr Alban, Aqua, Whigfield, Snap and Rednex had major chart hits and sold millions of singles and albums.
However, the biggest artist of them all started out as a DJ in Switzerland, released his first three singles in 1990 and 1991 (which he told us he still have in his basement) before his first major chart-success came out in 1992. With harmonies carefully borrowed from Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me“, René Baumann’s alter ego DJ BoBo turned it into a major number-one chart track in Sweden, Switzerland and Portugal and a top-five song at yet four other national chart lists. The success was immediate, the formula simple: euphoric, upbeat dance music with BoBo’signature choreographies and very often with crazy – and often high-budget – music videos.
Twenty-seven years later, with twenty-seven single chart-hits and more than fourteen million sold albums, DJ BoBo was back in Hamburg with his KaleidoLuna show, a two hour futuristically themed dance explosion with a spaceship in the middle of the stage and more dancers then I was able to count.
The room goes dark, the crowd screams in anticipation and smartphones record the arrival of the man from outer space; DJ BoBo is on screens everywhere around Barclaycard Arena in his spacesuit and is about to land on Mother Earth. From that point it’s a two hour dance explosion and people go nuts already from the start because BoBo is clever and smash out his hit song “Somebody Dance With Me“ already as the second song on the setlist.
The audience is an amazing mix of millenium kids with parents that hadn’t met, maybe not even graduated from high school, when DJ BoBo had his breakthrough in ’92, to the group of men in their early forties taking on the role to get people moving in waves around the arena between songs while they howl the popular football arena version of White Stripes “Seven Nation Army“, and those in an age where you need to think about how you move to not break a hip. There are very few artists that can attract such an age span of people.
The show perfectly interweaves DJ BoBo‘s classic rap with the back vocalists – yes, plural – over the top pop performances in a way that keeps the audience continuously engaged, even as the style of music changes. The hit of the night? I would say “Everybody“ probably because it thrusts me back in memoryland but if you ask the crowd – and remember we’re in Germany – is was when he introduced his mega-hit “Freedom“ singing the original lyrics “Ein bißchen Frieden“ (yes, “Freedom“ is an uptempo cover of the German schlager hit). This is the first time I also need to use my ear plugs because everyone around me screams with that kind of high pitched soun that is a ringing terror for dogs and animals susceptible of picking up that frequency. And the show continues to get bigger and bigger.
In all these moments, DJ BoBo looks like he’s genuinely having a good time, which makes it all the more easier for us to share in that happiness with him.
But this wasn’t just a show, it was a show-off how big the eurodance scene really is, and you understand that it’s not far from major arena bands. It is also the most visually spectacular outing yet for an artist on the scene and DJ BoBo is by far one of those that can pull this off without becoming cheesy; it’s a fine line between eurodance madness and the “too much of everything“ Eurovision Song Contest kind of performance, and it takes someone good enough to stay on the right side of that line – and BoBo has a feeling for it.
It’s a great pleasure to see how an artist as René Baumann has turned his alias into something bigger than a 1990s DJ hero, someone who can master technologically advanced arena shows (there was fire, advanced interactive animations, hovering drone light show etc.) and take the show to a new level on the eurodance scene.
And just to give you a heads-up: He is doing his 30 the anniversary tour in 2022. Line up for the tickets!