Whoever said “You don’t get anything for nothing” never visited BonnFest on Saturday.
3songsbonn sampled the musical side of this three day Free Outdoor Festival and found a wealth of musicians happy to play and a wealth of passers-by happy to listen at Münsterplatz and Marktplatz.
BonnFest actually offers more than ‘just’ music in the streets. Friday evening saw the local basketball heroes Telekom Baskets signing autographs, and local celebrities such as Lindenstrasse veteran Bill Mockridge and Miss Germany 2015 Babett Konau (from Bonn!) telling us whatever they had time to tell us in a short 15 minutes. There were also dance and fitness classes that perhaps someone on ‘Get Fit & Dance in Bonn.com’ will be able to update you on (yes, I made that up!) but this is threesongs Bonn so lets take the tram down to Hauptbahnhof, and a short walk through Poststrasse at 5pm to Marktplatz, with Bonn Guildhall majestically standing as a backdrop to the Main Event Stage.
I arrive to hear Die Drei 1. Billed as ‘Musik geheimtip aus Bonn’ they are actually only a ‘secret recommendation’ if you love German Folk music in it’s most Karnevally incarnation. I take some pictures and make a hasty retreat down SternSrasse.
When I get to Münsterplatz there is a trio of young men from Cologne named rather un_cologne-like Le Sharage Mallionlageux on the stage looking directly across at the stern gaze of Beethoven’s statue. It’s the first and last time today that I will see either a double bass or a violin being plucked in earnest but a pleasant way to wind down after my Karneval ‘experience’.
The trio are not very loud, and in the distance I seem to hear Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ drifting across the square. David Gilmour is of course currently on tour but when I walk down to the entrance of Starbucks I actually find Mark Gillespie singer with Floyd coverband Kings of Floyd playing a slightly battered looking guitar and aided by Tom Drost on occasional flute. There was something very British about the way Mark was set up with a small amp, and a Cajon for a seat that reminded me of the buskers I see in Portsmouth and London. My instincts were correct when I later discovered Mark was from Manchester and besides sellling a CD was also making ‘Werbung’ for the Kings of Floyd concert at Bonn Harmonie in October. On the evidence of this I would recommend the show without hesitation – and I left, pondering how a totally acoustic Floyd tribute band might be quite an interesting proposition.
My reason for leaving was to get back to Münsterplatz for 6pm in time for Marion & Sobo. Okay, I’ve already reported on this duo recently playing at Marktplatz, but you can never get too much of a good thing right? The
amplification at Münsterplatz really paid off where Marion Preus’ vocals were concerned. She really does know how to turn a jazz vocal phrase and even gives Zaz a run for her money on Je Veux. Myfavourite of the set-part that I caught was actually ‘Don’t worry, be Happy’ and everyone seemed to be singing along to the chorus as a good counter balance soundwise to the Münster bells chiming 7 pm. As Sobo was demonstrating his considerable jazz guitar talents, the bell ringing backdrop told me it was time to head off at a leisurely pace to Marktplatz for some “Travestie auf höchstem Niveau”.
For English readers not so up on this style of musical theatre – imagine if you will 2x Danny La Rue singing cabaret lyrics to a Jim Croce melody and you’re on the button. I can’t say be too critical about Ham & Eggs though as I arrived only in time for the aforementioned song. Am I sorry for being late? Not really, ‘Travestie’ auf any niveau is not my thing musically or otherwise. They were however colourful and made for some bright pictures so thanks for that, er… ladies.
I was actually only watching/listening to Ham & Eggs so that I could get a good place for the next, and main event, of the Festival.
I’m not likely to ever see the original Abba now, and I certainly will never get the chance to stand with a camera within ten feet of Agnetha Fältskog (sadly!). I get the feeling that many of those standing around me however might just have seen Agnetha ‘in the flesh’ (!!!) as it were though, a good few seemed old enough to be my parents and on occasion their parents. Is the Abba generation really so long ago? I remember seeing ‘Abba the Movie’ at the cinema myself so I won’t go deeper into that question.
Musically there was nothing to complain about. The Abba Review have put a lot of thought into their presentation – even down to the white piano and the polyester blue look of the opener ‘Waterloo’. They have a pianist who actually does look Abba-like with his cherubic grin, and two girls with the right hair colours and attitudes to reflect the ever smiling Ani-frid and the slightly less comfortable smile of blonde Agnetha (or is that just because we know she came to hate touring in hindsight?). All great theatre, and the hits all played accurately in melody as well as in fashion style. Even down to getting a children’s choir together for ‘I have a dream’. But something was missing.
By now though I’ve been standing on my feet for over four hours andI need to sit down. The only seating around is for the restaurants and cafes though, so I decide to head back to the tram where at least I can sit on the bench until the 62 comes to town.
It was not to be though. My walk back involved passing Münsterplatz where it turned out that the Elwood’s were doing an impromtu show. ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ was what caught my ear as I passed Beethoven’s statue. Was it my imagination, or had Ludwig turned slightly round on his plinth to see the stage better? Probably the beer I’d just consumed, but anyway I immediately abandoned a walk to the tram and, ignoring my protesting feet, set off to the stage under the Münster for the last time.
It was actually Heart & Soul who were re-living the Blues Brothers spirit with, well you guessed it – heart and soul. The audience here seemed as enthusiastic for the music as the musicians themselves were, and everyone both on and off stage seemed sad when Jake sang “Ride em in, ride em out, Rawhide’ and brought the set to an emotional if not a note perfect close. I realised what was missing from the Markplatz show I had been watching.
Be still my aching feet though, there was still more to come in the musical duo of Krysmah who had up until now been playing as acoustic band behind the ‘Blues Brothers’.
Detlef Kornath actually has an excellent Rock vocal (I knew that anyway from his appearances with Sunny Skies) but his companion Frank Nerger is a guitarist of extra class A+. Can you really play ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ as per the Thin Lizzy version purely on acoustic? Frank can, and does this evening with a solo that I’m sure Eric Bell would have appreciated. Other Rock classics are delivered equally acoustically but equally excellently by the duo including the best vocal of the day for me by Detlef on ‘Hotel California’ and a storming ‘Far Far Away’ that had the still sizeable crowd singing along as enthusiastically as if Noddy Holder himself were standing there with his silver disc covered hat and platform boots. Krysmah don’t need the gimmicks though, they deliver an excellent set with just stools to sit on and acoustic guitars to play. Okay, and sunglasses at 10pm, but hey, this is Rock n Roll and Kornath once roadied for Heino!
Yes, that 10 pm watershed has been reached once again in Bonn. On this occasion there was a special permission to play louder (an extra ten decibels I read somewhere). The extra decibels DID make a big difference to the sound I might add. None of the bands I heard were especially loud in style anyway, even the Abba Review, but they could be heard over the audience and had enough punch to make them better than listening at home to headphones. Of course my legs would have preferred me to stay at home. My soul however would have cried out for music from a stage rather than a machine, and BonnFest delivered everything my heart desired.
Finally a YouTube clip from my favourite act of the day…