M'era Luna festival 2004
We had a lot of bad luck when we set out to travel to the festival. Having booked tickets with Festivalbussen we felt certain the trip would be like a walk in the park, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. First of all, the bus didn't show up, when I called the agency they informed me that a mistake had been done but it would all be solved soon. A few phone calls later I was informed that we would have to take the train to Gothenburg where we would join our fellow travellers. Now the geography of Sweden isn't too kind to travel by train from Linköping to Gothenburg, we would have to change train twice. And when I went to check what platform the first train would depart from I discovered that it was half an hour late, so late in fact that it would arrive to Linköping at the same time as our next train would depart from Norrköping to Katrineholm. Luckily there are other ways of getting to Norrköping so we swapped our tickets, which had to be done swiftly since the new train already was at the platform.
The switch in Norrköping went without any problems, as did the switch in Katrineholm and finally we were on the train to Gothenburg. Since we travelled first class a complimentary lunch was served, it was a sandwich with grilled egg plant and homous, unfortunately I am extremely allergic against one of the things in homous and with no alternative dish I was left to my own devices. One good thing though, that was our last setback on the journey towards the M'era Luna festival. The fact that we arrived four hours before the gates opened didn't bother me that much really.
The first concert I was able to catch was Rotersand and they gave a solid performance. Vocalist Rasc had a lot of onstage presence, constantly moving, constantly trying to make the audience feel an urge to dance. Although his vocals aren't easy to hear, they seemed to echo forever, he succeeds in songs like "Lifelight" and "Almost Violent". “Electronic World Transmission” on the other hand didn't sound half as good as on record. They also played a couple of new songs, a fast one that sounded promising and a slow one, which I found quite boring. Not at all like those present on their album.
Seeking shadow I returned to the Hangar a moment later and managed to catch a glimpse of Decoded Feedback and was a bit surprised to see that they attracted a larger audience than Rotersand. Especially since the concert was a lot less fun to watch, sounded mostly like Project-X light.
Welle:erdball had a lot of people on stage at the beginning of their performance, the four members as well as a bunch dressed in minimal clothing but with their skin painted blue. The blue people didn't move very much, their stance shifted between songs, but other than that it was hard to spot any movement at all making them look like showroom dummies. I think the band had a great time; after all they played on their home ground. I am sure the audience enjoyed it, singing along with every tune and screaming happily as soon as a new song began. Without a doubt the best Welle concert I've been to.
There is one thing about M'era Luna that I found quite annoying; the fact that during Saturday the concerts took place between 11 and 24, on Sunday they ended at 22. Since the sun was shining all day long most of bands had to play in broad daylight, not the best conditions, even inside the Hangar it was pretty bright most of the time. This was the case when The Mission performed on the main stage; I have a feeling the sun ruined that concert. I just couldn't get into the right mood for their music.
I think the main difference between a great live act and a mediocre one, backdrops and effects set aside, is the vocalist. If he has a great time, if he has a lot of charisma, if he puts some effort into getting the crowd going the crowd often respond to it. For instance Rotersand and Fixmer/McCarthy has no effects or backdrops, the musicians mostly tied to their keyboards, but Douglas McCarthy and Rasc put a tremendous effort into what they do. On the other hand we have the vocalist of In Strict Confidence, I love some of their songs, but when they play "Kiss Your Shadow" I hardly move at all. Why? Because there is nothing on stage making me feel like it. I wasn't the only one; actually there was more action in the crowd when Rotersand played a new song.
An example of the opposite, a vocalist ruining the show, came on Sunday afternoon. Funker Vogt began with air raid sirens, the musicians entered stage dressed as if they were a part of a GSG-9 team, a minute later vocalist Jens Kästel appeared, and from my distance he mostly looked like a travel guide; dressed in khaki shorts and a white shirt. As if that wasn't enough he didn't seem to be very focused, Kästel forgot the lyrics a couple of times. The biggest mistake was during "Gunman" where he missed the first verse, excused himself only to miss most of the chorus as well. Huge disappointment for me, and I suspect I wasn't the only one leaving with that feeling.
The promoters utilized a tight schedule for the two stages, and each band had a time limit to hold. This made sure no band came in for an encore, except the only Swedes in the line-up. Covenant ended their concert prematurely, and then returned to play one more song. A dangerous thing to do, wonder how they would have felt if the audience had left and since no other band did an encore because of the tight schedule I think it was a bit lame. But I have to admit I adored the white clothes they wore, extremely cool in my humble opinion. Worth noticing is that Covenant played a new song and that they, for the first time ever played in Germany, "Like Tears in Rain" instead of "Der Leiermann". It is the same song, only the lyrics are different.
Final band of the festival was Lacrimosa, and their performance was amusing, in a haha-funny kind of way. At times their mix of heavy metal and goth have choruses fit for the Eurovision song contest, and it sounds kind of funny, but nevertheless I enjoy it. If you don't know what I mean listen to "Malina" from their latest album Echos, the chorus has strong influences from the kind of music you used to find in the Eurovision song contest. Based on my prejudice about Germans I'm not at all surprised they're popular there.
The journey home was scheduled to begin at 8 in the morning, so we began getting our things together at 6 and about fifteen minutes to eight we arrived at the bus stop. Something seemed strange; we were the only ones there. Not one other person from our bus showed up during the next fifteen minutes and at eight I felt a small sense of panic growing. I had to call the agency again to find out what was up, a moment later he called me back to tell me the bus was re-scheduled, it would depart at 11 instead. It would've been nice if someone had told me, and I'm glad it wasn't rescheduled to an earlier departure time, not sure our travel guide would've noticed if we were missing. Later on we were supposed to take a train from Malmö to Linköping, which is a much better route, and after some dabbling with different tickets, at first Festivalbussen booked us as youngsters, we were finally on board. Not that there was any reason to hurry, the train couldn't leave Malmö for another 1½ hours because of an accident at the next station. And before we arrived Linköping we were two hours late, after a stroll through town and a shower I finally went to bed. Tired, exhausted actually, but feeling very pleased with the weekend.
Photos by AMF