Nightwish/HIM/ASP/Front 242/Deine Lakaien/Blutengel/Front
Berzerk/Mesh/The 69 Eyes/The Klinik/End of
Green/Nachtmahr/Kirlian Camera/Haujobb/Diorama/Clan of
Xymox/In The Nursery/Coppelius
- 10-11 August 2013
sound was phenomenally good, I could feel the shape of every beat"
second visit to M'era Luna and as in 2006 the weather is almost
perfect. Only just starting to rain as the festival drew to a close on
Sunday. So, for the most part gorgeous sunshine, a friendly capacity
(25,000) crowd, great sound and some decent beer. The festival is
orientated to a goth/industrial crowd, but does book some metal/rock
acts too. Like the similar German and Belgian festivals I've been to, a
lot of the crowd make a real effort to look the part. Trad goth with
Victorian elements being the predominent look, but with a little bit of
cyber and steampunk and a scattering of military uniforms. The crowd
had a noticeably higher ratio of younger people than what similar
events in the UK attract.
I arrived at the site around 1pm on Saturday so unfortunately only
caught End Of Green's
set onwards. They
are at the rockier/metal end of the spectrum. Competent but
knocking out a set of pretty conventional mid tempo rock tracks. Mainly
bass guitar driven with some very well worn riffs, not unpleasant, but
nothing to set them apart from 1000s of similar acts.
It is a long time since I last saw Mesh
(M'era Luna 2006!) and they haven't changed a great deal since, bar the
addition of some dubstep elements into a few of their new tracks. They
still sound a little like Depeche
Mode, and all of their tracks seem to have the same mid-tempo
rythmn and earnest, worried vocals. The newer material is a little more
upbeat, but I wasn't left inspired to seek it out.
planned my weekend using the rather excellent M'era Luna phone app with
which you can create your own timetable with alerts for the bands you
flag. It's impossible to see everything, there being a large main
outdoor stage and a smaller indoor one. The festival site is at
Hildesheim Airport and the main stage is built on a runway which works
well as a large part of the audience are standing on the runway too, so
little chance of getting muddy even if it does rain. The second
slightly smaller stage is in an aircraft hangar, and the two are very
close but still with bands playing concurrently you can't see
everything. Fortunately for me there were very few clashes with the
bands I wanted to see.
Diorama I didn't
know at all but passing the hangar I was drawn in by their vaguely
Haujobb-like EBM. It wasn't just the music, the vocals also reminded me
a little of Myer's softer deliveries. The songs are a lot poppier than
Haujobb, but had enough going on to keep my attention. I will be
checking out their albums on the strength of this performance.
Haujobb themselves were a
very welcome pleasure, again quite a while since I last saw them, but I
have been highly impressed with the recent material. the set was made
up largely of recent tracks, the stage set-up was sparse and Myer was
full of energy, surprisingly sprightly around the stage and firing up
the audience. It is criminal that Haujobb are playing this far down a
festival bill, but there was a good sized crowd none-the-less. The
sound was phenomenally good and I could feel the shape of every beat.
Someone should really be booking him for some UK shows.
acoustic set consisted of Alexander Veljanov singing accompanied by
grand piano only. This might work for indoor performance, but here was
hampered by a distinct lack of volume and the delicate sound being
completely lost amongst the background noise of the festival. The
footage I've seen of their performances with an orchestra worked well,
albeit I still prefer their stark electronic versions, this however was
a huge disappointment and they need to seriously rethink the set up
before their headline slot next year.
the kind of default stompy, teutonic electro industrial that caused me
to stop following what the industrial scene became. About as generic as
it is possible to be. The backdrop with "War Is Not The Answer" gave no
clue to what was and conflicted somewhat with the military uniforms and
toy guns on stage. Lots of people were dancing and concentrating
sternly on enjoying themselves, but it just sounded dated and jaded to
Back out in the light ASP
are clearly a big deal over here. German vocals, driving riffs and
atmospheric interludes complimented with a string section. Very
dramatic and very much rock. Not particularly my thing, aside from the
few tracks where they stray into Rammstein territory. Entertaining
though and I can understand the mass appeal.
somehow passed me by before now but I was seriously impressed by their
M'era Luna performance. Back in the dark claustrophobic hangar, which
suited their intense barrage of grainy sample based hypnotic rhythms.
Lots of found sounds meaning that the otherwise simplistic song
structures still held the attention. Both members wore vaguely
Lecterish masks and the vocals were barked and spat out monosyllabic
chants. It worked. I have some catching up to do.
HIM were the
headliners for Saturday and it was a very late set, finishing at
midnight. The lightshow was spectacular and all the better for the late
show. There are enough strong melodies in HIM's material to set them
apart from the other rock acts on the bill. Even for unfamiliar tracks
it's hard not to find yourself humming or singing by half way through
each track. Both band and audience seemed to be enjoying themselves
thoroughly and as with Asp there were lots of hands in the air for
pretty much the full set. I wasn't aware until Valo mentioned that this
was the second time HIM have played M'era Luna, the other being the
very first one.
I think I had a big smile on my face by the end too, and hardly noticed
the 40 minute walk back to my hotel. (I don't really do camping...)
Photos [L-R]: Haujobb, Mesh, Clan of Xymox, Front Line Assembly (x2)
Day two and my arrival on site is greeted by Coppelius. Immediate
impression was Eastern tinged classical jazz and honky-tonk. Which
wasn't what I was expecting to hear, but was all the more interesting
for it. They seem to throw pretty much anything into the melting pot,
as their set swings from prog-rock to, well, swing. Some of it sounds
like Sopor Aeturnus without the death gurgle, some of it sounds like
the Mighty Boosh. That's not a criticism. I can even hear Stump. I will
be investigating further.
The 69 Eyes were
next. I can't say I was expecting much, and that was pretty much all I
got from a very well worn Sisters clone.
Having had my fill of the sweatmeats [sic] on the main stage it was off
to the hangar for In The Nursery.
I saw them for the first time in London in 2011 and was eager to repeat
the experience. Once again the sound in the hangar was crystal clear
and the appreciative audience were rewarded for their silence with a
short but dramatic set. Powerful without being bombastic. Measured
bursts of kettle drum and snake rattle or military snare, with synth
swathes and scattered vocal. A mature sound in the dark of the hangar
whilst the children play outside in the sun.
I hung around for Clan of Xymox
and was really pleased I did. 2006 at this very festival was when I
last saw them and they didn't make a great impression on me then. This
time I was hooked by the second track. The set was bass driven, a
simple but effective groove to most of the tracks. No crescendos but no
lulls either, creating a constant atmosphere. A little loss, a little
hope. The main stage would have killed this, but disappointing that
they were this low on the bill.
Back to the main stage for Apoptygma
Berzerk and again I don't think I've seen them since I saw
them here in 2006. Oddly their set was a mirror image of what they
played back then. Having released two more albums and an EP since, this
was more than a little bizarre. They did however get the audience
psyched up with all the euphoric tracks from Welcome To Earth, 7 and Harmonizer.
Pretty much everyone I could see around me was smiling, dancing and
singing along. Yes, me too.
were next up in the hangar with some mid-tempo power chords and breathy
female vocals. The synths underpinning and string weren't sufficient to
hold my attention. Accomplished but I didn't hear anything to set them
apart from tens if not hundreds of bands ploughing the same furrow.
Back in the light and Blutengel
were pumping out You Walk Away and the entire audience were arms in the
air clapping, looking exactly like the promo clip used on the run up to
the festival. I find Blutengel a little too generic, but they are still
fairly life affirming to see live and it's hard not to get caught up in
the positivity of the moment. Step back from it and the sweeping
choruses and pumping rave all fall to pieces. No substance, no
Front 242 should have been
amazing. Front 242 did their level best to engage the crowd.
M'era Luna was however determined to stay rooted to the spot. They can
clap, but it seems that they cannot dance. Not for Front 242 anyway.
Well, OK, about 5 of us were dancing. Perhaps the audience demand
circuses with their brot. Front 242 did not offer much in the way of
backdrops/lights/fireworks. They offered EBM. Quality EBM, but old EBM.
It was not enough. Not for this crowd anyway. I came away after half an
hour, but only to secure a good spot for the band I came to see.
Once more into the darkness of the hangar. Once more for Front Line Assembly. A new album to
promote, a re-engineered sound. Like everyone and their mutter, dubstep
has wormed its way into the FLA flesh. It isn't too prominent so
shouldn't date the material too much, but then FLA have always borrowed
from whatever genre happens to be passing. Absorb and assimilate.
Some of their stage gear was mistakenly borrowed by Lufthansa en route,
so the band had to assimilate gear from others. There was a noticeable
tension on stage, the band clearly anxious about their sound given the
mend and make do at short notice.
They needn't have worried. The sound was huge from the off. A good mix
of old and new tracks accompanied by the best lights I've seen at any
of their shows. I couldn't see much of the audience from the front, but
it was clear from fairly early on that the band were pleased with the
reception. Once Leeb relaxed he was bouncing around the stage as
normal. There was a massive amount of bass in the new material. Pulsing
through my ribcage and throbbing through the floor. If anything I was
more impressed by the new tracks live than the older material. Killing Grounds, Blood and Exhale, all
possessed of a claustrophobic, dark energy. I cannot wait to see a
longer set in London.
Out of the darkness and into the Nightwish.
I watched from afar, taking in their lightshow. The music, as with some
of the other bands this weekend, if removed from the goth context is
basically chart pop/rock. Pleasant enough verse/chorus/verse tunes,
heartfelt but rather mundane vocals about love or ...whatever. It
worked, but only as background music for the start of my walk back to
A great weekend all told, and a much higher percentage of acts I'm
interested in than at most other festivals I go to. I can't knock the
atmosphere at all. You should go.