No, it’s nothing to do with Star Trek. In Bonn ‘Next Generation’ is a new concert series aimed at giving young local musicians with their own songs a chance to shine at a top venue. This time around it was the opportunity for David Nevory, Melchi, and Peanut Butter Spirit Lover (PBSL for short!) to show what they could do in front of a large and enthusiastic audience at The Harmonie.
Wolf Fabian should know about creating a musical presence in Bonn. Fabian is a grounder of Cult Bonn Band Electric Sandwich, a band who grabbed attention at an early gig by having roadies throw dead fish out at the audience. How would tonight’s musicians make an impact? I had a waterproof hat in my pocket just in case…
I’ve written a lot about David Nevoryon this site, all of it good since his band impressed me at Toys 2Masters a couple of years ago. The band’s music was fundamentally built around Nevory’s well crafted English lyrics, so it’s not too much of a surprise that out on his own, with just an acoustic guitar, David Nevory can still command attention. For the most part, the songs are sparse arrangements lending themselves well to just a guitar accompaniment. Melancholic affairs of the heart like the new ‘Still Afternoons’. There’s a dusty, urban, Springsteen feel to much of what comes our way this evening. Sometimes there’s still a sing-along air, as in ‘Holding on to Yours’, but it’s more a sway on your feet feeling than the tap your toes one that next act Melchi delivers. Perhaps someone to be enjoyed more on the car stereo than on a stage? No. David Nevory has a calming grace about his live presence that lets the talented songwriter do the talking – and I very much recommend giving him a listen – on your music player or on a live stage.
Melchi Vepouyoum is also no newcomer to 3songsbonn. I suspect one of his first appearances in the City must have been at Bonn Folk Club back in May 2017. I remember wonderful rhythms and wonderful applause for a young man who seemed to radiate the sunshine of his home in Cameroon. Rather like Cynthia Nickschas, Melchi has paid his musical dues on the streets, and the chances are that you’ve already seen him brightening up an afternoons shopping in the City Centre. So why pay to see him then? Here’s why…
Tonight there is such a short pause after David Nevory leaves the stage that, although Wolf Fabian has introduced Melchi and started a huge round of applause, Melchi himself is only halfway down the stairs from the dressingroom. Still a short distance away from the next steps that will take him onto the stage, and into the hearts of everyone present. There are curious rhythm attachments seemingly velcroed onto his shoes, an odd contraption is attached to the end of his guitar that looks like a guitar tuner on steroids, and, of course, a Niass is strapped around his mike stand. A what? Well, to me it looks like a pair of ‘click-clacks’ which 70’s children will remember were heavy wooden balls strung around the hand that might make a rhythmic sound – or might just break every bone in your fingers.
Fortunately, in the hands of Melchi, Niass are a great rhythm accompaniment, and along with the shoe attachments and some nifty looping that would make even Ed Sheeran proud, rhythm is amply provided. I doubt that too many in the audience speak fluent Bamoun or Camfranglais, but that doesn’t matter one jot because first of all Melchi explains what the songs are about, and secondly, they are all so brightly and rhythmically played and sung that it really doesn’t matter. There’s a tribute to Bob Marley with the only cover of the evening ‘Redemption Song’ and by sets end the applause is even louder than it was at the beginning for a young man with a very bright future in music for sure. I’m reminded of Malian born Habib Koité who brings a similar sparkle to World-music. Very sensibly, after the loud applause finally dies down, Wolf Fabian announces that he has asked the young man from Cameroon to play as support for Electric Sandwich soon. Hopefully, Melchi will also find time to bring his musical sunshine back to Bonn Folk Club again sometime.
The last act of a fine musical evening they were, but they had a name to ensure you couldn’t forget them: Peanut Butter Spirit Lover. Maybe someone in the band reading this can tell me the origins of that one?! I’ll refer to them in future, for the sake of my tired typing fingers, as PBSL (very wisely, the band themselves do the same). Singer Lukas Harth looks quite inconspicuous when the band tune up. He pushes his spectacles back solidly over his nose and the set can begin. I know they played Rockaue a few years ago, but this is my first time hearing PBSL and I’m quickly impressed.
Not only do the band write their own material, they stick to German throughout (remarking on one song that it started out in English and finished life in German). The music is well-crafted Pop/Rock that is parts ironic and parts provocative. PBSL are a solid band that clearly love playing live together. I can’t go into detail about the songs since they are mainly only available live, but that is due to change very soon – which is in itself a notable development where up and coming music is concerned in the 21st Century. David Nevory referred to his latest music video (Still Afternoons) and a latest release that is available on Spotify. Both Melchi and PBSL are putting down music for releases dependent on crowd-funding. It seems that the future of music will very likely be in the direct hands of the musicians who make it if the trend continues.
The Internet has certainly made it possible for everyone to get their music ‘out there’ for the public to hear, which sounds great in theory, but we only have one pair of ears and music is, for most listeners, an important but small part of our daily lives. How do we get to hear who is worthy of our limited time? Not, judging by the recent Grammy Awards, via the established popular broadcasting media. I’m glad to say that The City of Bonn is making the Next Generation concerts possible (big thank you to Hans-Joachim Over our Rock and Pop Minister), that an established musician sees the need for a ‘shop window’ for local talent (big thank you Wolf Fabian) and that a local venue supports it (big thank you Harmonie). If you too want to support local talent then check out David Nevory on Amazon HERE
Support Melchi’s very first disc HERE
Help finance SPBL via crowdfunding for their new disc HERE