‘One of the biggest Cultural Initiatives in Bonn’ is how Mayor Jürgen Nimptsch describes Kunst!Rasen in this years Event handbook. Is it already four years ago that Lou Reed kicked off the ‘new’ venue?
Since Reed kicked it off it’s been in regular danger of being ‘Kicked out’ with the end of every Season it seems, but still prevails – because it’s something that the majority of ‘Bonners’ want, even if it often seems as if the custodians of the City itself don’t. On Sunday it was back though,with young guns blazing. The ‘guns’ being young and popular German Rockers Revolverheld (now there’s an ideal name for a band of young guns!)
Being Kunst!Rasen of course it had to rain heavily before the evenings show. The security men wave me through to the photo-pit with big smiles on their faces. They step up onto their wooden palettes, leaving a small melee of camera holding pressmen to squelch into position. The other side of the barrier contains some 8000 people of an age range that I’ve seldom seen at a show. A few years ago at Tokio Hotel it was clear who was fan and who was coat buttoner for the young fan. Here though I even see some familiar faces from the Harmonie live music crowd.
The evening had already got off to a good musical start with a young Austrian gent named only mysteriously as ‘Lemo‘. You can find out more about him by checking his Facebook site ‘Lemo Macht Music’ he tells us. You won’t find his surname though. Somewhere my research suggested that Lemo was an early entrant for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. As Austria managed ‘Null Punkte’ this year though I imagine he was glad to miss out. His set was short and he had only an acoustic guitar but I had the impression his was the most impassioned performance of the evening. Like or hate bright and breezy pop songs like ‘Vielleicht der Sommer’ you couldn’t deny he had an ear for a catchy tune and an enthusiasm for playing it.
You might be forgiven for thinking that next band up ‘Kensington’ came from London. They do sing in English, and they have in fact made a CD in Leeds too, but Utrecht is in fact the band’s home. Having checked out a couple of videos before the show I was quite hopeful of some hard rocking sounds (maybe that also explained the ‘Harmonie’ people in the crowd). In particular I’d seen a soundtrack song for the film ‘Bloedlink‘ with an excellently rocking ‘All or Nothing’ video. A lot to hope for, but…
Maybe it was the fault of the daylight. I suspect they sound and look heavier in a dark and sweaty concert hall. Vocal and lead guitarist Eloi Youssef had the lean and hungry look of an ‘I don’t like Mondays’ era Bob Geldof, but everything looked a little too clean and shiny to be genuine on a sunny Summers evening.
With a crowd of 8000 out to have a good time they had no trouble getting a sing-along going to ‘Streets’ – “Where do we go when the streets are calling?” I had the feeling that they went home though rather than on the rampage or to a dark smoky club. Maybe it was the small boy sitting on his fathers shoulders with a thick pair of headphones to protect his ears that blew the rocking atmosphere? I’d like to see these guys in a small club gig. I think they would kick a*s there. Ya boo to the stage crew at the end too. Hey guys, you could at least have waited 15 seconds before switching off the band’s equipment and the ‘Kensington’ sign behind them – and at least given the appearance that an encore MIGHT happen.
Which brings me back to that rain sodden photo-pit where I’m waiting for Revolverheld to show their young faces. These guys had also caught my attention whilst checking out YouTube. First with a video containing a genuine marriage proposal HERE and another supporting gay relationships where singer Johannes Strate kisses drummer Jakob Sinn HERE so these guys shouldn’t be boring!
The Revolverhelds are not boring, and they certainly know how to play, and get through a fair few instruments during the evening too. In addition to the regular guitars and such, there are mandolins and banjos wielded and even the largest bass drum I’ve seen on a stage, possibly ever, for just the song ‘Worter die bleiben’. They move about a lot too, except that I have the feeling they’ve been coached in stage craft rather than a natural reaction to the music. Even more so than with Kensington there seems to be a missing edge somehow. In his concert review for the local General Anzeiger newspaper Thomas Kölsch suggests they come from a generation without a real cause for complaint. Rebels without a cause so to speak. I agree.
“Willkommen in meinem neuen Leben
Alles sieht jetzt anders aus
Ich will tanzen, nicht nur reden
Geb mir selber einen aus
Kein Auto, das mein Konto leer frisst
Mein Telefon hab ich verkauft
Und weil mein Kühlschrank immer leer ist
Geh ich heute wieder aus ” – from ‘Immer einen Grund zu feiern’
In the grand old days of musical dissatisfaction people had telephones and cars taken away because they couldn’t afford them – here it seems more like a lifestyle decision? They know their fans though and give them what they want. There’s a chance for some of “Those who have never been to a concert before” to come on-stage. Not something Tokio Hotel would have chanced to do but then those young kids who make it onstage look far from overwhelmed by the situation. Maybe even at their tender ages something tells them that this is not Mick Jagger and the Stones. With my love of live music though I would like to think that this is the start of a long love of concert going for at least some of them, that will take them forward to musicians as yet unknown, possibly unborn, but also back to the likes of Muddy and Elvis.
It was an enjoyable evenings music though, and I like Revolverheld over-all. They seem like nice guys with good solid rock/pop songs, and if they never come up with a ‘Schools Out’ or a ‘Born in the USA’ they put on a good show and make 8000 people happy give or take the odd ‘small adult’ looking like they’re starting to miss their play station.
By the time encores roll round I’ve taken a walk round the Kunst!Rasen arena and my spirits are energized by the discovery of my favourite Indian food van. I can’t see much from this far back though as a Veltins tent seems to have been plonked right in the way in front of the VIP platform. There are a couple of scaffolds also blocking sightlines, and the mixing desk as well. There used to be a good view from the hillier Rhineside of the stage but that’s blocked off now (which will especially be missed for it’s tree lined cover if -when- it rains this season).
All in all, great to have the Kunst!rasen back open for business. If the music wasn’t totally my thing, there were plenty who did enjoy it and indeed there was much to enjoy. There will be much more to enjoy in the coming weeks too with Rea Garvey, Status Quo, Alice Cooper and Joan Baez just to drop a few names into the pot. Between the Kunst!rasen and the smaller Kunst!garten there is pretty much something for everyone. Find out which ‘something’ is for you and GO! You won’t need reminding that these concerts stand on a knife edge every year and it’s feet through the gate that keep it alive.