Concerts in Contrast

A few precious hours in a space of our own
And when the band comes on, the only thing I really know:
I want to dance
(Four Simple Words ~ Frank Turner, 2013)

[I’m afraid, I’m running out of Frank Turner lyrics for these intros soon… *g*]

There have been only two music acts in the last years who (obviously) have left such a lasting impact on me, that I chose a line from a song for my blog title. When I started self-hosting my blog and needed a title (and URL and such) I chose “Choose To Be Me…“, the title of a Sunrise Avenue song, because I’ve loved the song and it’s lyrics. I still do. Because I could and can relate to (parts of) the song so much.
By now Sunrise Avenue is the band I’ve seen the most shows (a dozen, maybe) of in my life. I really should have kept better track of these things. Besides their music, these guys always have been so much fun to watch on stage, because they are great musicians and obviously enjoyed being on stage every night and have fun doing what they are doing.

Last year I happen to stumble across Frank Turner and his music. What’s that phrase? “And the rest was history…” *g* What can I say, I just love this guy. Well, his music. And his lyrics. Which are part of him, so I guess I love him by proxy. Or whatever.

I don’t really want to compare those two bands and I don’t have to choose one over the other. Also to be honest, I probably did choose one. I changed my blog title after all. That had a lot of other reasons as well, but still…. Anyway, this week I had the chance to see them on stage back to back, so to speak. We had ordered the tickets for the Sunrise Avenue show on Friday already months ago, whereas I rather spontaneously decided to see Frank on stage on Thursday. In two venues which were in walking distance with each other ;-), which really is a weird coincidence.

Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls, Turbinenhalle, Oberhausen, 21-02-2014
fthcobThis was another great show from Frank and his band. But of course I’m totally biased. After the O2 show with 20.000 people last week it was nice to see him on stage in a venue with just 1.500 people. It was my return to the standing room because there are no seats in venues like this. I stayed a bit on the side at the back this time, which might have been a stupid choice, because of all the folk walking back and forth to get some drinks and such. Quite disturbing sometimes, really.

The setlist didn’t change too much from the the London show, so I won’t comment on that in detail. Looking back on it, I think I liked this setlist in Oberhausen a tiny bit more than the one in London. They used different arrangements for some of the songs, like “I Am Disappeared”, which started out in the acoustic version, but unlike in London it changed to the powerful, crashing guitars and drums version in the end. I for one was glad that they didn’t play “Broken Piano”, because I’m just not a fan of the song.
I was surprised to see Emily Barker with him on stage for the first encore. I admit I didn’t know that they had recorded a song together, but it’s a really good one. I can say it now, because I bought it on iTunes and could pay attention to the lyrics. On Thursday they sang it in German, which is always a fun thing to listen to, but some of the lyrics were indistinguishable for me, because Emily doesn’t really speak German. So it was fun to see her sing in German and laughing about the absurdity of it. These two definitely had fun together on stage.
The rest of the encore was similar to the show last week and it was just as much fun to sing and dance along. Like it always is and like it will be in Cologne in three weeks. From the four Frank Turner shows I’ve been to so far, I think the Cologne one last year has been my favourite so far. But I had a blast at each and every show, and it’s not really a competition after all.
After the show I had considered hanging around to see if I catch Frank at the bus once more, but it was raining so much after the show. They also cleared the venue rather quickly and I had no desire to stand around in the pouring rain and freezing cold, especially as Frank and the band most probably would have hurried from the backstage area to the bus after all. Maybe next time… ;-)

Sunrise Avenue, Königs-Pilsener-Arena, Oberhausen, 22-02-2014
saob2 This venue was the biggest I’ve seen Sunrise play so far. I think it was one of the biggest arenas (12.000 people) they were playing in ever (as a headline act anyway) and lead singer Samu Haber really was quite happy and grateful about it. He has always openly appreciated the support over the years and it’s so nice to see him still do that. And I at least believe that it’s not just some empty phrase, but that he really does mean it.

Sunrise rocked the venue pretty much from the start. The crowd down in front of the stage was in a good mood and so were most of the folks who had seats on the lower and upper tier. The people in front of us stood up to dance and sing at the first song and we did likewise and didn’t sit down till the end. Or just to catch our breath for a moment at some point ;-) I really liked their setlist as well, they played a lot of new stuff, but of course also the good old hits. The sound in this arena was pretty good as well and so was all the other stuff they had going on: lights and videos and such. It all looked like a well put together show. But compared to the many shows I’ve seen of this band before, there still was something missing.

I had to think about and actually sleep on it for a while, until I figured out what felt wrong in the whole setup: Everything kind of felt “disconnected”. I don’t know if that makes sense or if I’m able to explain it properly. I think the stage might have been too big for how the band usually acts on stage. In previous shows they used to walk up to each other and play their instruments next to each other for a while. Sort of “battling it out” in good nature if you know what I mean. Back then most of it seemed to happen quite naturally / spontaneously, even though some of it probably was fixed up beforehand. But still they interacted much more with each other on stage. This time every member of the band played their part on their position on stage and they played it well, but they seemed to do it on their own.

From the previous concerts I don’t remember Riku and Raul leaving the stage as often as they did in this one. To switch instruments or whatever but it was noticably and it bothered me, because, once again… disconnected. I want to see the complete band on stage for most of the show, but that didn’t happen this time or at least it felt like it didn’t happen. They also didn’t move from one song to the next as seamlessly as they used to. In fact they had some breaks between songs that felt unnaturally long, the last one before “Fairytale Gone Bad” (the last song of the main set) in particular. I turned to my friend and remember asking her: “What is this? Was that supposed to be the “last” song? Without any kind of usual ‘Thanks for coming to the show, Goodbye”?” She was sure it was not and indeed they came back on stage to play Hollywood Hills as “last” song, but still it felt really, really, really weird. Sloppy in a way and slightly unprofessional, something which I’ve never thought about this band before.
They also included some instrumental solo parts in this show, which they usually do, but this time those were too long for my taste. Yes, I can understand that Riku wants to show that he’s an excellent guitarist and same goes for Osmo on the keys. But it still was too long and in Riku’s case felt like something that didn’t have any connection to the rest of the songs or the show. Once again: disconnected.

The worst part of it though, which made the show feel slightly awkward in hindsight, was, that Samu (lead singer) and Riku (guitarist) seemed to blatantly ignore each other on stage. For someone like me who has seen them play together many times before and who very much liked their interaction on stage (talking to each other, playing their guitars together, sometimes making fun of each other) before, this was kind of a let-down.
Until the show this week, these two seemed like best buddies. Bromance on stage and all that. But now? Nada. Nothing. Not one tiny bit. It really looked like they were doing their best to avoid each other on stage and that’s just sad, because their interaction on stage was one of the things that made the previous concerts so much fun to witness. I have no idea what happened between those two (if anything happened at all) but this was not the Sunrise Avenue band I’ve known for years. And it makes me a bit sad. And left me a bit underwhelmed with this show to be honest.

I also was completely underwhelmed, that for the first time in my long line of concerts they didn’t do a medley at some point. Those medleys of various songs (including Ghostbuster, Who let the dogs out, Bohemian Rhapsody, Bob Marley, current song like Call Me Maybe and lots more) in a wild and unknown combination always was a highlight of their shows. Riku, Osmo and Samu were singing various parts and it was so much fun.
And they didn’t do it this time! It’s a staple of their show in my eyes, something I expected to always be a part of their concerts, because they’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. But they didn’t this time and it really was a huge let-down, to be honest.

So, all in all: the concert itself (songs, sound, lights and everything) was enjoyable, but if this show had been the first Sunrise Avenue show in my life, I’m not sure I would have been going to see them as often as I did in the past few years. Bummer, really!

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