Less is more with Henrik Freischlader

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It was somethhing of a blow when Henrik Freischlader announced not so long ago that he was ‘retiring’ from live music.  To prove you can’t keep a good man down for long though he’s already back – this time with a pared down trio formation and a new CD.  Tuesday’s show at the Harmonie was amongst the trios first live concerts (previously they did a short stint supporting Tedeschi Trucks).  Guest reviewer Elisabeth Kassing was on hand to describe the evening in words and Peter Szymanski  was on hand to provide the (excellent) pictures…

It’s 8 pm on a Tuesday night and the time has finally come – Henrik Freischlader, the likeable German musician with the hat, is back, and ready to rock a sold out Harmonie in Bonn.

What better a song to open the show with than one called “Openness” ?  The first track and title of his brand new album isn’t only a rocking kick-off but positively sparkles with musical energy. It gets more personal with the next song which tells a story taken from Henrik’s real life: “Listen, I’ll try to sing it extra clear for you!” he invites the audience and immediately scores by getting their laughter. “Early Morning Blues” is based in the singer’s hometown and is only one of many examples showing how much ‘Henrik’ there really is in the new songs.

 

Carl-Michael Grabinger and Alex Grube are not only the perfect accompanists on the drums and  bass guitar but also prove to be talented backing vocalists.  They are also allowed plenty of room to conjure Bluesy, instrumental breaks that deservedly coax extra plaudits out of the listeners.

New bassman Alex Grube

New bassman Alex Grube

Two more rocking tracks and then a change of pace follows with “Never Really Left You”.  This beautiful, very personal and emotional ballad is definitely one of my highlights of the evening. Listening to this song, you can almost feel how heart, voice, soul and guitar merge. The song ends with a lengthy instrumental, starting with soft notes which climax accompanied by huge applause into a grand finale. When Henrik subsequently approaches the audience to say “It’s fun playing for you!!”  and playfully enquire “ Are you having fun?” the reaction was, needless to say, positive.  The audience were indeed having fun!

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“Cuttin’ In” and “Got It Made” find the Trio offering two more bluesy songs afterwards, the second complete with amazing drum solo. Each song brings the band more applause than the previous one until “Masterplan”, even has people singing and dancing along. Older Freischlader fans will have been very happy to hear “Bad Dreams (Wolkenwinde)”, from 2009’s Martin Meinschäfer produced CD, and all too soon he’s kicking off the finale and picking up the pace with two louder and faster numbers (“Techno” and “High Expectations”).

 

Deserved cheering and jubilant whistling from an ecstatic audience gets the three musicians back on stage to play a phenomenal encore. The first song of which “A ‘good-mood-song’ I’ve written for myself” (Henrik) shows once again how much the new Trio is enjoying its time onstage, and how perfectly they mesh. With the ballad “His Love” the Henrik Freischlader Trio finally bring an energetic and varied concert to its end.

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Freischlader convinces from start to finish: with his new band, his brilliant and rousing guitar-playing, his new songs and last but not least his joy to play and his likeable, cordial and jocular manner.  Anyone who saw him for the first time tonight will be back for sure.

 

It’s fair to say on the evidence of tonight’s show at the beautiful Harmonie that this is the beginning of a brilliant and successful tour, and we will hear and see a lot more of the new Henrik Freischlader-Trio in the near future. I am looking forward to it!

  • Elisabeth K. Kassing
  • Photos 1 – 4 Peter Szymanski

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