Last Friday, the Never Say Die! Join this year’s 7 bands with their fans in Cologne to start the weekend together. On this very special tour, which has been taking place for 11 years, international friendships are made and newcomers share a stage with audience favorites. How this expresses and affects the atmosphere, you read in the following report.
In order not to miss anything from the concert, it meant for me to finish work early and drive across the Ruhr to Cologne. Luckily, I was in the vinegar factory in time for the start. In contrast to my expectations, the hall was already well filled when I arrived. Anyway, the Cologne fan base of harder music already gathered in front of the stage at 17:30.
When the guys of Thousand Below from San Diego opened the evening, the crowd needed only a few songs to get warm. At the latest from the middle of the set, the moshpit was in full swing. Members of Polar, Northlane and the other bands started a pillow fight on “Sleepless”, which caused a lot of confusion and a short laugh for singer James DeBerg. Even the audience did not quite know what was happening there, but just kept on celebrating – now more than ever. With a lot of fun, a Friday night can start, because in such a friendly atmosphere you feel right at home.
The hardest band of the evening appeared as next on the stage. Currents neatly fueled the crowd. No wonder that with each song the pit in the middle of the hall was added. Although I found the musicians technically outstanding, I did not get really warm with the voice of frontman Brian Wille. Nevertheless, the guys evidently got a lot of Metalcore and Djent friends excited about it and hopefully they’ll be back in Germany soon with their upcoming EP “I Let The Devil In”.
Now it was time for the first of my two favorites: Polar from England is one of the bands that knows exactly how to get an audience to escalate. Energetically, the guys jump across the stage and encourage the crowd to follow suit. In between, the tour crew (felt) with the words “For the Boys” was triggered. Then it went straight on. Frontman Adam Woodford signaled that he does not accept a gap between band and audience, and climbed onto the breakwater to sing along with the crowd. Also guitarist Tom Green did not miss the opportunity to surf the hall with his guitar. Unfortunately, the most famous song “Black Days” found no place in the set. But the fans were allowed to enjoy a not yet released piece. The new album will be released in spring 2019. Hopefully, Polar will return to their old and new friends in Cologne.
While Casey and I first took a breather, many celebrated of the audience in front of the stage. I was able to enjoy the music of the Welsh also wonderfully there, but the aggressive shouts of the frontman Tom Weaver were more of a stressful nature. On the contrary, he was very calm and deliberate between the songs. He pointed out how important it was to respect himself and his friends. Especially when it comes to the topic of mental health, one should be there for each other. Frank spoke frankly about his depression problems and announced he was ready to talk all evening. The organization “Hope For The Day” was also there to inform fans who felt addressed about this sensitive topic.
For the Alazka from Recklinghausen, the show in Cologne was a kind of home game. Euphorically, the boys stormed onto the stage and put the audience directly in their good mood. Shouter Tobias Rische writes that it is very special for him to perform in the vinegar factory. Gratefully it took him to the fans in the crowd. He clearly trusts this blindly, because he stood on the bare hands of the audience. The band skilfully mixed old and new hits. The best moment of the gig for me was the performance of “Phantoms” from the EP “Values & Virtues”, as Michael McGough (Being As An Ocean) came on stage for his feature. Together, Band and Michael created a wonderfully friendly atmosphere.
Those who were particularly looking forward to Northlane, like me, were not disappointed. With their professionalism and exceptional music, the guys from Australia created an unforgettable atmosphere. In addition, it was familiar, because in almost every song, someone from the other bands joined singer Marcus Bridge. Here I was also positively surprised by the deep shouts of the Casey frontman. But both Alazka singers, Brian Wille of Currents and Joel Quartuccio of Being As An Ocean proved once again that the stage at the NSD! Tour for sharing is there and many friendships are made. Guitarist Josh Smith passed his guitar on Quantum Flux to Jonny Boucher of “Hope For The Day,” and jumped over the stage trench into the audience, letting himself be carried by the fans and clearly enjoying being so close. Northlane was a worthy first headliner, because this gig was a lot of fun.
It was already 10pm and the stage was rebuilt one last time. Unlike me, the crowd showed no fatigue and received the second headliner Being As An Ocean energetic. The audience danced, mumbled or hugged each other – no matter how, the crowd enjoyed the performance. Shouter Joel Quartuccio, like so many before, left the stage and spent at least half of the time either in the stage ditch to sing together with the audience, or he wandered around the hall so he could really be close to each of his fans. Pretty much everyone could sing along on songs like “Dissolve” and “The Hardest Part Is Forgetting Those You Swing You Would Never Forget” and the whole vinegar factory sounded like a delighted family choir. With the latter song, Being As An Ocean gave us a well-deserved weekend.
Watching seven bands within 5½ hours was exhausting, but the evening was extremely well organized and went smoothly. The Never Say Die! Tour is THE Place to go, if you want to see as many bands as possible in one evening and be part of a very special community. Unfortunately, every single performance was not very long, but at least it is almost guaranteed that artists of the NSD! be back soon in Europe look over. Maybe you can see bands that have made friends during the tour, even together again.
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