Author’s note: this text was written in October 2022, and was translated in May 2023 as faithful as possible without changing any of the now out-of-date parts.
It was my first concert weekend after a long pause, partly COVID-caused, partly for lack of convincing live acts. The chosen event was Charlotte Wessels, “Tales From Six Feet Under – Live in Concert” at TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht, the Netherlands. 1200km drive and two hotel nights for a 3h event? Naturally, it is in the eye of the beholder whether that is a reasonable relationship between effort and return. I also had slight doubts sometime in July when I spontaneously bought the ticket. In retrospect, these doubts were unfounded. I would now even go so far to say they were “absurdly unfounded”. I joined Charlotte’s Patreon as late as June 2022 and quickly found out that the music she creates is just great, and that the community of Patrons was also to my liking. So nothing could possibly go wrong.
Let’s start with some personal history – my visits of rock concerts somewhere far away is relatively short and includes little more than Fish fan club concerts (Oberhausen, Duisburg, Enschede) and a-ha (Cologne), everything else ultimately took place in the Stuttgart-Munich-Frankfurt area. As you can see, visits abroad are extremely rare. This time it was Utrecht. The Netherlands is a toll-free area, so why not get into the car, drive 600km and take a look at Utrecht. Also called “Little Amsterdam”, it is definitely worth a visit.
First of all, it should be noted that satellite-based navigation is one of the greatest inventions of mankind. I would probably still be driving haphazardly through the streets of Utrecht today – always on the lookout for the next cyclist with undoubtedly suicidal intentions – looking for the hotel. Even though the navigation system had minor weaknesses when it comes to “one-way streets” and really does take an incredibly long time to calculate the route. Particularly bad: the navigation system always, after restarting the car, tries to find out again where it actually is at the moment, just as if it was not a plausible hypothesis that such an inbuilt navigation system could still be in exactly the same place where the car was parked the last time. But I digress.
In any case, the city centre of Utrecht is a nightmare for car drivers – narrow streets, many bicycles, optimistic cyclists and pedestrians, and one does well to move close to walking speed – which then leads to being overtaken by the cyclists, which does not necessarily reduce the moment of danger. It is like Münster or Freiburg (the two “bicycle cities” in Germany) on speed. The alternatives, like travelling by plane and/or train, or parking the car somewhere outside and then taking public transport into the city centre, I discarded early on due to risk considerations and planning effort. In view of my experience, next time I would actually tend towards the Park+Ride tactic and trust the public transport for the last few kilometres.
Back to the actual event. The extra motivation to attend this concert, of all things, is honestly a rather pessimistic view of the future. After taking a closer look at the overall situation, I was afraid that this concert will remain a one-off event and the chances of it turning into a whole tour were unfortunately rather slim. Commercial realities and the overall setting of those involved with their many projects going on lead me to suspect this (and I sincerely hope I am wrong). So, “once in a lifetime chance”, if that doesn’t provide sufficient motivation, what will ever do.
Anyone who has read my posts on the hubersn.misc blog over the last few weeks (yes, I mean both of you – my loyal regular readers!) knows that I have indulged in a bit of fanboy-ism about all things Charlotte Wessels. I think her singing skills as well as her songwriting are great and accordingly my expectations regarding the concert were definitely quite high. And what can I say: all my expectations were far exceeded. What Charlotte Wessels has put together – from the musicians to the lovely setlist to the stage show – my deepest respect. The English language has words like “awesome”, “phantastic”, “marvellous” or “sensational” for exactly those things. Support from Eli (Elianne Anemaat) on the cello, plus guest Alissa White-Gluz for Toxic, Lizzie and Fool’s Parade – it could not possibly get any better. Involving the audience, the hymn “Masterpiece” for the patrons, the right mixture when addressing the audience between “for everyone” and “for the hardcore fans”. Really well done. If I had to find a point of criticism, it would be the expected difficult conversion of “Soft Revolution” from that lovely studio version into a convincing live version. But the looping station with the three-voice-singing and Timo’s wonderful additional guitar playing – different, but still great.
- Human To Ruin
- Venus Rising
- Source Of The Flame
- Cry Little Sister
- Good Dog
- Toxic (harsh vocals by Alissa White-Gluz)
- Fool’s Parade (duet with Alissa White-Gluz)
- Lizzie (duet with Alissa White-Gluz, with Eli on cello)
- I forget (with Eli on cello)
- Victor (with Eli on cello)
- A Million Lives
- FSU (2020)
- The Phantom Touch
- Soft Revolution
- The Final Roadtrip (with Eli on cello)
- Against All Odds
- All You Are
Actually, only “Vigor & Valor” and maybe “Go To Sleep” are missing here among my favourite Songs of the Month. But I couldn’t decide what should have been left out for those two either, and after all, it was the “Tales From Six Feet Under Double Release Show”, so: all good.
I was also most pleased to note that many of the songs really gained in live performance by real musicians (the “Six Feet Under” songs were, after all, largely created in isolation on the computer with instrument plug-ins in Cubase). In a pleasant way, they seemed rockier, more metal to me in the live arrangement. Very nice. I also had the feeling throughout the whole concert that good friends were having a lot of fun making music together on stage, and this mood was ultimately also felt by the audience. An evening among friends, a really great atmosphere.
I’m also happy to report that I was able to experience many of the songs in a new way, mostly regarding the lyrics. It happens to me again and again with English-speaking artists that I don’t pay much attention to the lyrics when listening to the studio versions of songs, or sometimes I have difficulties understanding the words and am too lazy to read the lyrics. When hearing it live, I am suddenly understanding the lyrics better – like a puzzle where the missing pieces are suddenly found, and everything magically fits together.
After concerts, on the way home – especially on such a long drive (surprisingly, it was again a 600km drive) – I usually have the habit of going for a contrast in the type of music I am listening to. Not this time: Tales From Six Feet Under Vol.I, Tales From Six Feet Under Vol.II, all Songs Of The Month that were not on Vol.I and Vol.II, and then again from the beginning. I never get tired of this music.
Very well done, Charlotte Wessels.