Balloons & the tears of a clown – Cynthia Nickschas at Alten Zoll

Nickschas_Alten_Zoll (16 of 45)Good things must come to an end, and the Stadtgarten concerts down by Alten Zoll are sadly no exception.  The words of my old hero Phil Lynott  came to mind at 10pm on Saturday though: “We’re going out singing, singing, SINGING!”  and how could it be any other way with the bundle of Bonn dynamite that goes by the name of Cynthia Nikschas ?

Poor Tilman Ringer.  Not only did he have the early start of 7pm to contend with, but grey skies, icey breezes and drizzling rain.  If his success in the 2014 ‘Toys2Masters’ band competition was the reason for his getting a slot this evening then I wonder if there were icey moments when he surveyed the isolated umbrella holders and wondered if it was all worth it.

Tilman Ringer - One man band

Tilman Ringer – One man band

To his credit Ringer delivered a heartfelt set despite the problems.  In my youth a ‘one man band’ was an elderly gent with a guitar in his hands, a snare drum strapped on his back and cymbals tied to his knees.  In 2015 it’s a young gent with a guitar in his hands and footpedals and a loop machine under the sole of his trainers.  Make any noise you want, any way you want, and keep it coming…

Tilman makes it look easy, but he spends as much time looking at his pedals as he does the audience, and I came here to see and hear live musicians, not foot pedals.  If I sound harsh it’s probably because he introduced the 19th century folk and gospel classic ‘Poor Wayfaring Stranger’ as “an Ed Sheeran cover”.  Kudos though for the effort and by sets end the Alten Zoll was filling with people rather than rain.

Laying down a loop - Tilman Ringer

Laying down a loop – Tilman Ringer

I rather suspect that some of the die hard Cynthia Nickschas fans would have been here if a hurricane had been forecast.  As the lady herself passed by before the show she promised me sunshine, and whilst it was a bit watery at first, the sun did actually shine occasionally – and she did stop the rain, bless her!

I’ve now seen Cynthia at the Harmonie, at Bonn Folk Club and now at Alten Zoll and she seems to fit in wherever she plays.  It’s always fascinating to watch her as well as listen because she has an intensity that just radiates out when she takes the stage.  That feeling you see in old Bob Dylan video clips – an earnest  troubadour who urgently wants to make him/herself heard, and crafts every word and every syllable to perfection so they can state their views on the (usually bad) ways of the world.  One moment she has a look of annoyance or disgust and a moment later a warm smile – sometimes almost in the same instant.

Hair 'blowin' in the wind' - Cynthia Nickschas

Hair ‘blowin’ in the wind’ – Cynthia Nickschas

I don’t thing Bob ever had everyone in the front rows dancing so ecstatically as Cynthia and her excellent band  did on Saturday though – and it really did make the evening a bit special, as did the mime appearance of Tom Tom the clown during ‘Gold glänzt nicht’ with his colourful windmills, deep red heart balloons and tears at the end as Cynthia contemplates “Weil Mann Gold nicht fressen kann, weil es sie nicht retten kann – Gold glänzt nicht”

Bonn Rock & Pop Commissioner Hans-Joachim Over introduced Cynthia Nickschas as a Bonn musician who could go on to great things and of course she has an excellent ‘contact’ in Konstantin Wecker.  Whether that day will come may well be down to Cynthia herself.  ‘Wo ist das Niveau’ is not just a song, but a statement of intent where Cynthia’s musical beliefs lay – as she pointed out, DSDS and casting shows are not her thing.  Unless this really is ‘Generation Blöd’ though Cynthia Nickschas is set for success on her own terms and she wouldn’t accept it any other way.

Nickschas_Alten_Zoll (17 of 45)

But I digress from the music and the atmosphere and the sheer joy of being outside, just a few steps from the Rhine and hearing great music in good company.  The Alten Zoll concerts have been a pleasure this Summer for Bonn residents and tourists alike (I heard foreign accents as often as I heard German).

Heartfelt thanks to Alten Zoll for happy hours in the sun (and occasionally rain!)

Heartfelt thanks to Alten Zoll for happy hours in the sun (and occasionally rain!)

Optimism is high that the Alten Zoll will be an open air venue again in 2016.  Lets hope that whoever gets the vote this month was a visitor to Alten Zoll in 2015.

Click Here for more photos

and finally, a video to get feet tapping…

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