Four years of waiting have come to an end
...for the Luisenpark Mannheim. That's what the artistic director, Peter Bartuschat, of the "Seebuehnenzauber" (magic lake event) told us when he welcomed the audience to the event. He had been telephoning and emailing with Roger's management throughout those four years and he never gave up the hope that one day they would find the fitting date. The date was July, 10th 2011. As it turned out, it was a day with heavy rain showers and the park management had decided not to risk playing the open air stage. They moved the event to the inside venue which is also situated at the park area. The artistic director had a hard time explaining their decision to the audience but it was the right one after all - it kept on raining during the concert and I guess everybody was quite happy that we did not have to sit in the rain. After Bartuschat had announced Roger, the band came out followed by Roger and the audience applauded frenetically.
This was my second concert with band and I have to admit that after having seen Roger with Aaron in the past two years, my first time with band (Rapperswil) was a bit of a shock to my system - it is sooo different! Humans are creatures of habit and after I had adjusted to those different dynamics, to the different sound level, to so many individuals up on that stage, to those other voices joining the harmonies - I enjoyed Roger with band in Mannheim.
The band: Aaron, well he is just great and he has added a couple of new "toys" to his range of instruments. Bryan Head made me experience that desperate imploration of Don't Leave Me Now very intensely with every beat of his drums. Ian Steward was smiling while playing his powerful basslines and he seemed to enjoy looking out at the audience - his joy was infectious. Kevin Adamson not only is a wizard at the keyboards, his vocals are a great addition as well.
I also like how the band changes the setlist. It made me think about the sequence of songs in a setlist and how it comes about. When I attended one of Roger's orchestra shows and they played School quite early in the set, I thought that was just because it seemed to fit that day. But maybe it was because the setlist was better suited for an orchestra show that way. Looking back over the setlists of the band shows, School seems to have sort of swapped places with Give A Little Bit and it works out great that way. The band also brings some absolutely great additions to the setlist: In Jeopardy and London - In Jeopardy has that great intro where Roger makes that special sound which I love and London has those lyrics that cause the audience to smile and chuckle - just a fun song!
Roger says that he knows only about two things which can bring back memories instantaneously: music and smell. His concerts and his music do that, they bring back memories but they at the same time create new memories. When I think about Easy Does It, my new memory will be that of the whistling in Mannheim - there were some very good whistlers in that audience but that's not my new memory, my new memory is how I whistled along and a lady in front of me turned her head and was all smiling at me, obviously enjoying my whistling (not that I would call myself a good whistler). When it came to the second turn for whistling, the lady turned her head to me again and she watched me whistling. This time I made the "mistake" of looking at her directly (so far I'd avoided that) and that was it for my whistling. I just couldn't keep from smiling back at that lady... It was such a lovely experience and for me that episode represents what Roger gives through his concerts.
This was my very subjective experience of the whistling, so here is the more objective version: Before Roger started singing Easy Does It, he asked: "Who has seen me in concert before?" and there were a lot of cheers from the audience - judging from the noise it sounded like more than half of that audience has seen him more than once. He then said: "Well, let's see who knows this one" and while talking he played the first chords of Easy Does It on his twelve string. And indeed, there were a whole lot of people in that audience who knew what was coming and we started whistling - there were so many whistlers that when Roger tried to whistle the first notes himself to get us into it but had to wet his lips first, we had already gotten into the whistling - it was loud and clear. Roger was surprised, stopped playing those chords and looked at us quite puzzled. After getting over the surprise, he told us to keep on whistling - he would catch up and so he did.
Along Came Mary came with a dedication (for Karin) this time and for me this is definitely one where less is more (sorry, Bryan, Ian and Kevin!) , although I overheard someone (who obviously heard it for the first time) saying how overwhelmed she was by it...
When they started to play Logical Song, I could not believe that we had already reached the last song before intermission and when Roger told us that they had many more songs for us he tried to say it in German. It was no bad attempt, not at all! He started out in German but did not know the German word for "songs" and so he finished that German sentence with "songs" which is actually fine, as the word "songs" has been adopted to the German language, just as many other English words are commonly used in German as well. So, had he not hesitated that long and put such an emphasis on the word "songs", he would have gotten away with it.
In the second set I enjoyed the band versions of Child Of Vision and Don't Leave Me Now a lot. When Roger got up from the piano after Only Because Of You/Lord Is It Mine and took his twelve string with him to sit down behind his keyboard, I got all excited because I knew that we were in for a very special treat: Roger told us that he had played this next song in Liverpool as a tribute to the Beatles and he added that he wouldn't be here tonight if it wasn't for the Beatles. And as he enjoys singing that song so much he'd like to sing it for us tonight. He said: "This is a song of John Lennon: Across The Universe" and I really love Roger's version of it, his way of playing the guitar on it, his way of singing John's lyrics - just awesome!
Dreamer got dedicated to a little dreamer in the audience - once again there were a couple of little children in the audience - and Roger also played this one as Thank you for the organizers of the show.
Two Of Us, Give A Little Bit and It''s Raining Again ended the concert and Roger and his band got a huge standing ovation. Roger had said earlier on that he would love to return to Mannheim because he wants to play that beautiful outside venue, with the stage situated right in the middle of the lake, so that prospect made saying good-bye a bit easier for the Mannheim audience.