An early evening in Hamburg and the doors opened to a very special event. For most people lining up in front of Strandkorb Open Air this was for sure their first concert in a very long time and a somewhat unusual one. The audience at the Cruise Center Finkenwerder was allowed to sit in pairs in beach chairs, overviewing a huge stage. To make it comfortable and safe (according to the pandemic rules), drinks were delivered to your seat while the sun was slowly fading away on the left side of the stage as a backdrop to the panorama view of the Hamburg harbor. Could it be any better?
While sipping on a drink, the pirate folk metal band Storm Seeker released the anchor and embarked on the mission to warm up the audience with drinking songs. The six-person combo had an exciting set of instruments such as a hurdy-gurdy, key harp, cello, and flute and made their best to put the audience in a good mood for the next 45 minutes. Most people in the audience were already familiar with the Düsseldorfians, having already supported MONO INC. three times.
Save for some bangers from their recently released second album Guns Don’t Cry, such as “How To Be A Pirate” and “Deathwatch Beetle Party”, on which they were supported by their pirate colleagues of Mr. Hurley & die Pulveraffen, Storm Seeker also spoiled the audience with the popular “The Longing” and the traditional New Zealand sea shanty “Wellerman” before handing over the stage to tonight’s main attraction MONO INC.
MONO INC. thrust themselves out in the theatrical beginning of opener “The Last Crusade”, supported by a loud bang and heaps of pyrotechnics, almost burning down the stage from the start. At this point, most fans had left their comfy beach chairs, stood up with beers in their hands.
Following the opener was the beautiful and emotional ballad “The Funeral” from the penultimate album Welcome To Hell. The audience had by now reached a state of frenzy and applauded enthusiastically, and frontman Martin Engler thanked them with heaps of air kisses. From that point, we were on a trajectory into Happyland and the mood was even more enhanced by two classics, “Symphony Of Pain” and “Gothic Queen”, where the band changed their outfits for the first time.
Ahead of the next song, “The Book Of Fire”, Martin explained that the band had first considered whether they should play songs from the current album at all, as this should actually be reserved for the tour of the same name in spring 2022. But since no one can predict whether it will happen or not it’s better to let the audience enjoy the title track of the first number one album by the four Hamburgers, enhanced by some furious pyrotechnics.
For “Right For The Devil”, a collaboration with medieval rock band Tanzwut, Storm Seeker came back on stage to do vocals and musical support. At the melodic “Boatman” Martin appeared in a red uniform and played guitar along with bassist Manuel Antoni also wearing a uniform with a red cap. From this point in the show, Martin performed more frantically and moved from the right to the left on the stage, inviting the audience to the traditional gig clap-a-long, while guitarist Carl Fornia swirled around the stage pointing fingers at the audience to get them all jagged up. And it certainly started to heat up!
People in the crowd finally started to move around in spectacular dances for the first time in over a year, especially to the floor-filler “Arabia“. Before “The Raven Dies Tonight”, singer Martin told the audience that he and the band had faced a horrible period the past 1.5 years. They left for a break and let the music rest to recharge their batteries, find new inspiration, and even reconsidered why they started making music. But they decided that from now they will continue doing what they love to do most but stop doing it to meet expectations set up by the music industry. Going back to the roots and reflect on what is important seems to have been an insight that was good for the band.
There wasn’t any bad moment at all this night. The fans could enjoy the ballad “An klaren Tagen” unplugged for the first time, with Katha Mia behind the mic to support, together with Martin, and accompanied by Fabi (Storm Seeker) on the flute and Manuel on the piano. This was followed by a drum-off between Katha, Carl and Manu while the soundtrack from “Das Boot” was pouring out of the speakers. With “Get Some Sleep” the mood started to rise towards a climax, while “After The War” caused a blustering celebration in the audience supported by heavy pyro‘s on the stage.
With that, MONO INC. entered the stage to play their first encore, “Welcome To Hell”, shortly afterward. Martin wanted to hear the audience sing in “Voices Of Doom”: “It’s not about singing beautifully, but loud. You’ve already managed to deal with the not-beautiful!”. In the second encore, things started a little quieter with “Kein Weg zu weit”, only to reach full throttle with “Children Of The Dark” together with the audience.
The evening with these four amazing and cheerful band members ended up with thank you speech to Storm Seeker, the crew, the organizer, and the fans before people started to walk home in the night.
Photographer: Mandy Privenau
Review: Sabine Rübben