Lacrimosas Zentral- & Südamerkia Tour 2004

t’s been two and a half years now since we performed the last concert of our “Facade Tour” down in Monterrey. Two and a half years, in which we never appeared on stage. Two and a half years, during which we never called a Nightliner our home. Two and a half years, in which we never toured a foreign country, and two and a half years away from our audience. Why? I think that, whatever you do in life, you should always give everything you’ve got, and not do things by halves, giving or receiving only half of the whole. Our society already offers us enough that is of dubious quality. I prefer to wait a few weeks, months, or even years before committing myself and then dedicating myself to it completely, rather than giving in to a brief compulsion, a current trend, or simply succumbing to the spirit of our times, and knowing very well that, if I do that, I will neither reach my desired goal nor will I be satisfied with what I have achieved, or even have a sense of fulfilment for any length of time. This I know, and my mind tells me so. It is made difficult, however, by the fact that I am, to put it mildly, a rather impatient person. I must admit, therefore, that I have quite frequently more than missed the Nightliner, the stages and the audience. Nevertheless, it was the right decision, after almost five years of uninterrupted work in the studio and being continuously on tour, simply to take a break, since I really wouldn’t have forgiven myself if I’d stood on the stage and couldn’t have given my audience my all (everything I have to give)!

I woke up this morning with the chorus from “Malina” going through my mind. It’s Saturday, the 24th day of July, 2004, and we’re on our way from Hamburg today to perform this and other tracks from our current album “Echos” on stage for the first time. They are part of a set list, which was an enormous fascination for me to put together, since it really is blessing to be able to draw on Lacrimosa’s rich musical history after all these years:

Alles Lüge
Vermächtnis der Sonne
Der Morgen danach
Halt mich
Alleine zu zweit
Seele in Not
The turning point
Kabinett der Sinne
Ich verlasse heut’ Dein Herz
Durch Nacht und Flut
Not every pain hurts
Versiegelt glanzumströmt
Ich bin der brennende Komet
Am Ende stehen wir zwei
Stolzes Herz

It’s now 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and in Terminal 1 at Hamburg Airport, all those people with whom Anne Nurmi and I will be sharing our table, stage, pleasure and pain for the next few days are gradually arriving: Jay P. and Sascha Gerbig – guitars, AC – percussion and Yenz Leonhardt – bass. Olaf Leymann, sound engineer and technical director – the man on the mixing desk who creates the acoustic bridge that links the band and the audience. Elmar Packwitz, the person responsible for the in-ear monitoring system and mixing. Michael Grossmann, who supervises the erection of our stage decorations and, as lighting director, keeps us in the spotlight during the concert. Peter Hablick and Oliver Grassmann, who are responsible for the technical setup on stage and the coordination of the local stage hands, and Frank Dehn, of course, our tour and production director, who deals with all the organisational details and makes sure the musicians are able to concentrate on what they do best, while also representing our concert agency All Access in any dealings with the local organisers and their staff. As of tomorrrow, Frank will be assisted by Miriam Hinds, a Brazilian girl, who will support him with all the typical Latin American understatement she can muster. And while we’re in Hamburg, waiting for our flight, along comes my dear friend Eric Burton from Catastrophe Ballet, who will be flying off to Munich in just a few minutes. We’d just loved to have packed him up and taken him with us!

A short time later, we’re breaking through the clouds on our way to Frankfurt am Main. When we arrive there, we transfer to a flight that will take us Madrid, which unexpectedly meets with difficulty, however, as our airline’s check-in computers are all down and the boarding pass of every single passenger has to be processed and issued by hand! Welcome to the 21st century! With a two-hour delay, we’re finally on our way to Spain, and a further two hours later, we’re approaching the runway in Madrid.

The temperature here is 34°C and I can hardly believe that we’ll soon be climbing aboard the next aircraft on our way to Santiago de Chile, which is located in the southern hemisphere, where the current season is winter. Nothing against winter! Quite the contrary, in fact! But let’s have everything at the right time and in its right place, if you please! And July sound to me more like summer, and Chile sounds like sun-kissed plantations, excellent wine and the fascinating beauty of unadulterated nature, and not the depths of winter! OK, I know… it’s a very European view! We’ll see! We’re scheduled to arrive in Santiago de Chile at around 8 o’clock in the morning, that’s 2 p.m. Central European Time. That will mean twenty two hours have passed since taking off in Hamburg. With this in mind, I order a glass of red wine and pull out Hermann Hesse’s “Steppenwolf”, as we fly off into the night…

Grey skies, 9°C and a cold, wet wind: welcome to Chile! After all the emigration formalities are behind us and our work permits have been checked, we are met by Miriam and Gustavo, the local organiser.

IIn the hotel, the first thing we do is tuck into a breakfast buffet that is very different from the uninspired in-flight catering we’ve just experienced and then we soak ourselves in the pool! In the afternoon, I get down to some work that I’ve brought with me, while our technicians are go off to the hall to begin with the preparations for tomorrow’s concert. We meet again in the evening to be enchanted by the local cuisine and captivated by the local wines.

The next day, Monday, the 26th of July, is the big day! We drive to the “Estadio Victor Jara” concert hall, in which, as one of the stewardesses in the aircraft had told us the day before, concerts alternate with sports events on a regular basis. And when we take our first look at the place, it’s not difficult to imagine: the wide stage was surrounded by stands rising to a height of 30 metres for the spectators. Very impressive! As were the crowds of beautifully styled people dressed in black standing around the entire building waiting to be let in.

A few hours later, we were ready to go on stage. After two and half years, I once again give Frank the sign to start up the intro. The lights go down and a nice, warm tingling sensation begins to spread throughout my body as the first sounds of the “Lacrimosa Theme” fill the hall to be immediately overwhelmed by applause. When Anne finally makes her entrance on stage, the audience can hardly control itself, and as “Schakal” begins, it’s there again, that unavoidable, surreal, feared and yet longed for and always completely uncompromising moment to go on stage…

And it’s happening here, in Santiago de Chile! With theses incredible people, who experience music with every fibre of their soul and every part of their body. And ultimately with their voices, as thousands of Chileans sing the German lyrics of “Der Morgen danach” so loud that I can hardly hear the sound of my own voice. And I think to myself that I will never again want to be ungrateful, never again dissatisfied, and that, as a person, I want to be a grateful, because what we are now experiencing is pure undeserved blessing!

And, as so often, the time goes by all too quickly, and we’re suddenly backstage again, surrounded by that flowers, message rolls and Harlequin dolls we had received as gifts during the concert. An extremely pleased Gustavon comes backstage and thanks us for the show, before inviting us to an after show party in a club named “Blondie” opposite the concert hall. Someone advises Anne and me not to accept the invitation, as there is room for as many as two thousand people in the club and it would be too dangerous for us. I have far too much curiosity, however, and so we decide to pop by. Frank organises an area in the club that can be sealed off and, accompanied by several security guys, we approach “Blondie”. As soon as they recognise us, there’s screaming and shouting, and chaos breaks loose – the kind of thing we Europeans are totally unfamiliar with. The two security guys in front, who are supposed to open up the way for us, are dragged away by the sheer weight of the crowd in next to no time. Suddenly, I can’t see anything, and have lost sight of Frank, Anne and the others. There’s nothing but confusion – hands and faces everywhere, with people are pulling at my clothes. My shirt rips open and I notice that a security guy is forcing my head down and a second has a hold on me as tight as a mother protecting her child in face of danger, and I realise once again that everything over here is a just that little bit more extreme! I’ve more or less given up hope, but we have by now reached the sealed off area and I begin to wonder whether it really was such a good idea to “pop by”. As Frank is organising the drinks, he mentions in his own inimitable, sarcastic manner that we’re trapped, and that the doors are blocked by crowds of screaming people singing Lacrimosa songs. So what’s the plan? His idea is to let small groups of up to fifty people in for a limited period, and it turns out to be the perfect solution. We have a wonderful evening with crazy, but wonderful people, and finally, around 3 o’clock in the morning, secure in the belief that we will be able to leave “Blondie” without too much damage being done. Oh, how wrong we are! As it turns out, getting out is far more difficult than getting in…

IMeanwhile, we’re sitting in an aircraft on our way to Brazil and I’m curious as to what’s in store for us there!

And our expectations are exceeded at the airport by a delightful welcoming committee made up of members of our Brazilian Fan Club and staff of the local organiser.

The following day, we travel right across hilly São Paulo, a city with a population of twenty million, to a limited autograph session for two hundred selected fan club members, and it’s always a special occasion when we meet those people who listen to our music and attend our concerts face to face, if even if only for a few minutes. Afterwards, we drive to the “Olympia” concert hall, one of the most beautiful venues that I have ever seen! The walls in the foyer are lined with red velvet, chandeliers hang from the ceilings, the balconies are divided up into cosy little boxes and there are photographs of all the artists who have performed her hanging on the walls of the staircases, and some very impressive names indeed: David Bowie, Alanis Morissette, Marilyn Manson, The Cult, Faith No More, Shakira, to mention just a few, and even the musical “The Phantom of the Opera” was performed here! Inspired by this atmosphere and an unbelievable audience that reacted to us with the most frenetic enthusiasm throughout the entire concert and, backed by enormous expectations, the kind of candour that tugs at you and demands, but also inspires and drives you on, we raise our glasses two and half hours later backstage to an almost magical concert that came about largely due to the enormous efforts put in by Lourdes Azevedo, the lady in charge of the world’s largest Lacrimosa Fan Club, who worked wonders with her staff.

At 6 o’clock the following morning, we’re at the airport and on our way to Mexico.

Carlos de la Pena, our concert organiser of many years standing in Mexico, really means well as he picks us up on arrival and takes us along little-known routes through the airport to a waiting van and straight to the hotel, while, as we learn later, way over one hundred fans are waiting for us at the airport.

In return, in the sold out “Circo Volador” next evening, on Friday 30 July, we are made welcome in the beautiful, warm-hearted and enthusiastic manner we have been permitted to experience and feel for the last six years in Mexico. And as I stand on the stage, I can definitely feel how this and the following concert have been prepared down to the finest detail. Perhaps it is the faces in the first row, which say more than a thousand words, perhaps it is the most be beautifully designed posters held up by members of the audience, or the information provided by the organiser, or perhaps the fact that days before the doors opened, people were camping outside the hall or that the numerous stalls have transformed the otherwise empty square in front of the “Circo Volador” into a regular fair for Gothics. Whatever it is, the first concert develops into a veritable firework display and the party that follows into an extremely excessive one.

The second evening in what is once again a fully sold out concert hall develops into yet another experience, and I must confess that I’m gradually running out of superlatives, so incredible is this wonderful America Tour! No matter where we perform, the audience becomes more frenetic with every song and the mood more electric. The interaction between the audience and the stage is inspiring and it catapults the concert into magical spheres. It is simply unbelievable! The audience in each country in which we have been privileged to perform in all these years has its own charm, its own forms of expression and its own special characteristics, which are unique and cannot be compared, since they have developed from the culture of that country and are part of that country and its inhabitants. Their unique character is based on this difference, but it is an extremely challenging and fascinating task to take it and transform and work with it on stage. And when a Mexican audience then begins to sing the German lyrics of “Kabinett der Sinne” or “Stolzes Herz” with at the top of their voices, and when letters and pieces of clothing are thrown onto the stage and Mexican airport or hotel staff hold their Lacrimosa CDs under our noses to be autographed, while German tourists look on in amazement, without ever having heard of Lacrimosa, then it’s certainly not difficult to see the humour in such situations, but they all emphasise what kind of status Lacrimosa currently enjoys in the musical culture of this country. Why is that so? I don’t know, and I don’t really want to know! It is something of a miracle, and as long it lasts, I will give it my best and enjoy it!

The third concert in the “Circo Valador” is to take place in the afternoon, since it is now Sunday and the numerous coaches that have arrived here from all over this huge country often have journeys lasting several hours back before the start of the week tomorrow. And once again I give Frank the sign, letting him know that he should start the playback and once again we hear the chanting crowds that draw us like magnets from backstage. With a touch of sadness almost, we walk on stage again in the “Circo Volador”, our home for the last few days, to begin our final concert. And this concert develops into one of the most strenuous, both emotionally a physically – whereby it should mentioned that Mexico City is situated at an altitude of 2,000 metres and the afternoon sun is not to be underestimated – but also into one of the most inspiring and exuberant of the entire tour! A fantastic climax and a fantastic finale!

We are now sitting in the aircraft that will take us home and I’m looking back over the last few days. There’s a lot to digest! We’ve experienced a lot, major and minor events, we’ve given a lot, done a lot and received a lot, and I’m overwhelmed, worn out, happy and also a little sad. And while our aircraft is crossing global time zones a thousand metres over Florida, I close my eyes and walk on stage once again…

Tilo Wolff, 24.07.2004 – 03.08.2004