M’era Luna 2012 : Day 1 : Saturday

By on 16 August 2012

M’era Luna 2012
Flugplatz, Hildesheim
Day 1 : Saturday 11th August

The 13th M’era Luna is indeed an interesting one.  The warm-up mood iss a little bit strange as the main headliners, Placebo, headlined just 2 years ago and the Sunday headliners, In Extremo, also played just 2 years ago.

That the attendance is lower than previous years could well be attributed that many of the bands have played the festival multiple times (Schandmaul, Letzte Instanz, In Extremo, Subway to Sally and De/Vision all play this festival regularly – and are no strangers to other German festivals!) but when a “dip in attendance” is still over 20,000 – is it worth crying over?

What has got a lot bigger is the Medieval Village (where you could view many medieval stalls from shopping to barbers,  partake in axe throwing or archery, or witness assorted entertainment throughout the day and night). Dominion joked on twitter this was due to the success of Game of Thrones and that got quite a few re-tweets, including by the festival itself.   Perhaps we were right…

Over to the music.  Having the first band at 11am is killer, but Symbiotic Systems (the winners of this years ‘Newcomer’ competition) have a pretty good crowd built for them.    They come from Hannover, so it’s only a short trip down the road for them and it’s like the whole town is out to hear their blend of Gothic-Metal.    It’s a difficult one to call, they’re not bad, they’re technically capable, Diana Pretz has a good voice and presence but, well, in a genre that’s surpassed its commercial popularity they offer nothing new or stand out.  Nevertheless, they make the most of their 20 minute opening set and don’t do a lot wrong.

It’s a bit arty in the Hangar, NoyceTM deliver some arty and elegant electro-pop.  Having been touring and releasing albums since the 90s, it’s a surprise to see they’re still rooted to the bottom of festival bills.  With hints of Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk, NoyceTM provides 25 minutes of early morning bleakness.  It borders between the brilliant and the bizarre and the sparse crowd pretty much concludes why they’re so low down the billing, shame as they were halfway decent.

It says here that Invaders are alternative/electronic – but they’ve more in common with college rock.  Unless you maybe count the alternative/electronic phase that Smashing Pumpkins went through.   A strange place for Invaders to play to a desperately thin main stage crowd.  Still it’s a nice sunny day, grabbing a nice cold drink, coupled with their summertime rock and everything is all right… Final song ‘Hummingbird’ is an anthem and a half.   A very promising band, who’ve relocated to London from Sydney in order to widen their fanbase, who are worth checking out when they tour the UK.

Medieval Knights, Damsels, Vampires, Horse Traps, mittelalter-techno…. What is this craziness?   It’s Heimataerde!  They’ve even got a song named after themselves to teach you how to pronounce their band name.    Yes, it’s a pretty large show as they make full use of the main stage, but don’t let that put you off the music.  The whole mittelalter thing is pretty popular in Germany, but Heimataerde add an infusion of electronics to make it all very dancefloor friendly.  So, if you get bored of watching people wielding swords, or killing soldiers, you can always dance.   Originally meant to be a studio project, they’ve really brought the live show to life!

To get things a bit Goth, we’ve got Roterfeld up next on the main stage.  Aaron makes a grand entrance, escorted by two girls to hold up the tail of his cloak!  They then rock through a number of tracks from debut album ‘Blood Diamond Romance’; it’s a tight performance although Aaron’s voice struggles a bit through the heat – although someone is on hand to rescue it with a beer!   The bittersweet pop-Goth anthems work seamlessly on the big stage and this further supports claims that Roterfeld could be a serious force in the future.  Although, given trends that would probably translate to “prime slots and sell out tours in Germany… pubs in UK”.

There’s a party raging in the Hangar for Faderhead.   Love ’em or hate ’em they can turn a crowd into a party in no time.   A packed room bounces and dances for the duration of the 40 minute set.  Sami had been having reservations on what to play in such a short set, but manages to pack in a dancefloor-fuelled combo with club hits like ‘Destroy Improve Rebuild’, ‘Electrosluts Extraordinare’ and ‘TZDV’ along with album tracks like ‘Join Us’.   Whilst he parades backwards and forwards across the stage, he also has helpers at the back who leap with enthusiasm to the tracks, whilst fiddling with their knobs.   Knobs attached to laptops you understand…

With the energy soaked set that Faderhead delivered, it was always going to be tough to follow.  That is of course, unless you are Erk Aicrag.  His solo project Rabia Sorda is a Latino-electro-punk killing machine.  Sharp, abrasive and energetic.  Tracks like ‘Out of Control’ and ‘Radio Paranoia’ have the enthusiastic Mexican bouncing around the stage at warp speed, barely stopping for breath during the 40 minute assault.   It’s an unusual blend of sounds, but executed to perfection.  People here are clearly not just here because it’s “the guy from Hocico’s other band” but because they want to see Rabia Sorda!

The last time Fields of the Nephilim played, they headlined.  This time they’ve slid down the bill a bit… still the main stage, but listed below the likes of De/Vision or Schandmaul.    There is truth that their headline appearance wasn’t the draw expected and that their doom-metal slurge didn’t go down very well.    That they’re going on during daylight is almost embarrassing, as is the below expected turnout of people coming to watch them… but… musically they’re spot on.   What went wrong last time was that, quite simply, even the classics sounded ‘too metal’.   This time, it’s much more what you’d WANT FotN to sound like.   So, today they sound more like a key-Goth band and their setlist is largely made up of classics, ‘Preacher Man’, ‘From the Fire’ and ‘Moonchild’ amongst those that hit all the right spots.    Although performed during daylight, it’s still a set in good spirits, even if it is bad and wrong to have ‘Moonchild’ whilst the sun is blazing!

Apparently Subway to Sally have a good fire show.   They’re one of those bands who seem to be loved in Germany, although they may struggle a bit getting sales on a UK tour.  With the regularity they play, it is a bit seen-it-before and catch-them-next-time for these eyes, beer is more interesting.

So, Saturday’s headliners… Placebo… again.  Sadly we do not have any pictures as Placebo management decided to restrict who could and couldn’t take photos and we were in the “could not” category – but, we’re not bitter.   Last time Placebo headlined, they were head to head with Combichrist and BOTH stages were at capacity.  In fact, many people who’d been to see Combichrist rushed to catch the end of Placebo.   This time, it’s not quite a full crowd for a headliner.   Sure, many thousands of people are watching them, but if there’s any question on if it was “too soon” for them to headline again, here is the answer.   But this aside, they have a good catalogue of songs, they chop and change a few about a bit and manage to largely avoid ‘the hits’.  None of their top-10 singles are played and only a handful of their better known tracks are in the setlist but they still deliver.  You can defy anyone who watched them to say they didn’t enjoy it (excluding the trouble makers who came out of Suicide Commando looking to start fights, not cool – really not cool!).   A nice touch was the screens they put up, which look like light screens, but actually broadcast video footage from onstage as a light show; it’s very clever and effective.     They don’t really interact much with the audience (but then they never really have) and when they do it usually ends up with someone taking offence at one of Brian Molko’s jokes, you’d think people would be used to him by now.

Kevin Morris

About Miranda Yardley

I'm Miranda. Bite me.

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