Fate is strange. Barely more than a week after Jack Moore talked about how unique his fathers sound was, I found myself listening to the man who comes as close to it as anyone I’ve ever heard – Just give a listen to Henrik Freischlader playing Moore’s ‘The Messiah will come’ for proof. There’s nothing flash about Freischlader’s presentation. In this day and age of hyped music there should be a category labelled WYSIWYG for players like him -What You See Is exactly What You Get.
On Sunday night Freischlader was back at The Harmonie to present his new CD ‘House in the Woods’ to a packed house and prove why I consider him to be the best Bluesrock guitarist Germany has ever produced (put down those protesting hands Michael Schenker fans – I said BLUESrock!) A treat indeed.
Support act Christina Lux was rather penned in onstage. Surrounded by Moritz Fuhrhop’s mighty Hammond, Björn Krügers drums, and Henrik’s mighty arsenal of footpedals. Her CD’s bear the somewhat odd advice to ‘File under new adult contemporary’ which, as far as I could tell, is a fancy description of ‘Singer songwriter’. She certainly knows how to work an audience with twinkling eyes and a ready smile, and even when her guitar pickup starts making croaking noises, she is cool enough to ask the audience to keep singing along whilst she switches guitars. A very capable musician and writer, who’s worked with the late Jon Lord and toured with Midge Ure. The phrase ‘Love & Lux’ is inlaid on her fretboard and the theme of love dominates her writing – as in my favourite from her set ‘Paper Airplanes’ with it’s lament that “Paper Airplanes, come undone in the rain”. I liked her finger-style jazzy way of brushing the strings and creating a percussive melody, and if you’re feeling in a contemplative mood she may be just what you want – even so, I found myself contemplating the arrival of Henrik Freischlader after a while. Christina Lux was music to accompany a good red wine, and I had a pint mug of Kölsch in my hand.
Finally the cap makes it’s appearance and the smile peeking out from under it seems a bit strained. Henrik Freischlader looks like he has a bad cold and later disappears behind the Realtone Amps to blow his nose “Müss nicht jeder sehen, oder?” he jokes on his return. Most of the new CD gets a run through this evening of course, and, as in the disc itself, it makes for a rockier concert than of late. Christina Lux is known for taking care with her lyrics, and Henrik is himself no slouch when it comes to finding the right words of English for his music. After last years ‘Whats my **** name’ this years runner in the Tshirt department sports the slogan ‘Don’t have no money, and I don’t give a sh*t’ from the song ‘1999′ – which all seems completely at odds with the affable gentleman telling jokes between numbers onstage at the Harmonie. It’s not at odds with the toughness of the music and the meaty rhythm section laid down by drummer Björn Krüger and Theopholis Fotiadis though – the latter wearing a Tshirt sporting the head of Diego Maradonna, although for those of us from England it should have sported the bit that scores goals – his hand.
Excellent music then, and no complaints except that, Maybe because of his cold, I felt the edge was missing this time around. I remember being totally blown away last year when Henrik encored with his tribute to Gary Moore ‘The Messiah will Come’. It was a breathtaking display of musical dexterity and drama. Sadly though this evening neither the song nor the guitar with Moore’s signature on the back were present. I also missed ‘Get Closer’ which is Henrik at his lyrical best and a highlight of the Tommy Schneller/Layla Zoe Concert here previously. (Schneller was recently winner of the prestigious German Blues Challenge in Eutin).
Not that the new material is bad, but best of the bunch this time around for me was another relative oldie. ‘The Bridge’ is by a long way the most uploaded Freischlader live song on YouTube, and it’s not hard to see why, with it’s numerous opportunities for the Man to deliver devastating solos. There was quickly a packed audience singing back “ooh!, ooh!”. I joined in myself initially but gave it up as a bad job when I heard the note perfect “ooh wahs!’’ coming from Layla Zoe joining in behind me. Second favourite of the evening was a punchy version of The Beatles classic ‘Come Together’ that had Krügers drum mikestand bouncing precariously around on the edge of his podium.
There are now two signature Henrik Freischlader caps available, but there really and truly is only the one Henrik, and very much like the classic cap – he’s never likely to go out of fashion. Not whilst he continues to deliver super Bluesrock albums in the shops and super guitar licks on the stage.