Konzert – Sommernacht

Schloss Mansfeld, Germany / Saturday 20 July 2002
Sonne Hagal, Forseti, Argine
Organisation: Ars Auditionis

Three of my favourite bands performing at a German castle… that was an opportunity I could not let go. Especially while I missed the Leipzig festival this year, where these bands also played. I looked Mansfeld up in the atlas, and found out that it was a small village deep in eastern Germany, in a mountainous region called the Harz. We went by train and made a stop in Hannover, because of the long distance. In Hannover it was mostly raining, so we did see much there, besides some nice record shops. Some recommended addresses: Hot Shots, CD Börse and Text & Töne.

Next day we continued our journey. In Magdeburg we had to switch trains to Klostermansfeld. From there we reached Mansfeld with a cute little train. Cosy curtains, pink mats in the toilets, drinks for pre-war prices… When we arrived at our destination we had no clue where to go, with no maps or sign near the station. But with the help of the local population, we finally arrived at the house of our friendly hostess, Frau Falkenberg.

The previous day was rainy again, but on the day of the festival it was miraculously sunny. We spent the day wandering through the village. The main tourist attractions were the houses were Maarten Luther grew up, and the dominating church. We already made an exploring visit to the castle on top of the hill. Normally parts of the castle are in use by a christian youth organisation. In daytime we saw volunteers working on the renovation of the castle and the festival organization building up the stage. The castle really is a fabulous environment, with nice buildings and ruins, surrounded by a mysterious forest. It also was a stiff climb up the hill. We returned to the village again for some refreshments. Later we were eating on a terrace in the centre of the village, when we suddenly heard Forseti play. Apparently the sound of their soundcheck reached the village from the top of the hill.

After dinner it was time to climb the hill once more. At the entrance many people were waiting, the doors were opened later than announced. When the gates opened everyone rushed inside. We soon saw some familiar (Belgian) faces. It still was lovely weather. Many customers gathered at the drinks and barbecue stand, and around the little music stall. Their was much interest in the special festival sampler “Tempus Arborum”. The limited ‘pre-edition’ of ‘Wolfszeit” by Forseti was also soon sold out.

Then Sonne Hagal entered the stage, which was set up in the castle garden. It took a few songs before they and the audience were really in the mood, but with ‘Midwinternight’ things really started. Many fine songs of their recent “Helfahrt” album were on the menu. With a lot of guitar work, and aided by Andreas Ritter on various instruments. The final songs were a fantastic rendition of the Ernte classic ‘Sonnenwende’ and ‘The runes are still alive’.

Next was Forseti. Andreas Ritter on guitar and vocals was supported by cello, flute, guitar and mr. Sonne Hagal on drums. The atmosphere and quality was very high during the entire concert. The set consisted of many Forseti classics and new work from the forthcoming “Windzeit” album. The title track formed the intimate encore of the impressive performance. There were dedicated fans of Andreas in the audience, holding up banners during the concert…

Argine was the final act. This Italian act had troubles with their journey, they missed their plane and had driven all night to arrive just before the concert. This wasn’t the only cause for stress of the organization, read their report about it…. The band looked really tired, and also had the bad luck of technical difficulties, causing some ‘cazzo’ exclamations. Nevertheless Argine managed to create a worthwhile performance. The atmosphere of their music and the background of the castle were a perfect combination. Three different vocalists ensured a lot of variation, and as always the violin was virtuoso again.

Then the night was suddenly over… We were only confronted with a practical problem: it had become completely dark, so we could not return via the forest paths. We were probably the only visitors that had arrived on foot… So we walked back along the side of the motor way, with the lights of the passing cars as our only illumination…

Somehow we managed to return safely to our guesthouse. The next day we left the village in a torrent of rain, with thunder and lightning…. We took the little train again, to spend a day in Magdeburg. Because of all the walking in the mountains our feet protested, so we hired bikes to explore Magdeburg. It turned out to be an interesting city, with a nice boulevard along the water. Furthermore some nice old churches, and many monuments dedicated to Otto von Guericke, the scientist of which the city is very proud. Furthermore I discovered a very nice record shop: Hot Rats.

Full of impressions from this fine German trip we returned to the Low Countries… It was a special event at a great location. I hope this ‘Konzert Sommernacht’ will get a sequel…