CONVENTION III: all hail to the Lodge!

An extraordinary event of Berlin Based Record Label Solar Lodge Edition No3. This was organised for the 2nd time in Bochum (1st time in Nov. 2018). Bochum is the perfect location for people coming from the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany. After a 3,5h drive we arrived at Kulturzentrum Bahnhof-Langendreer at 18.00. In a local ‚kino cafe‘ next to the venue, we met other Convention participants. Together, we looked forward to what was to come…

The doors opened at 19.00. What immediately caught my eye was a large banner of one of the typical Merciful Nuns Giants. The merchandise stand was located next to the stage, there was something for everyone. A perfect opportunity to complete your collection with hoodies, t-shirts, albums of the Solar Lodge bands but also side-projects of the band members. Here was your chance, don’t say you didn’t know it. The venue was fantastic. The audience could stand close to the stage and this was of course the charm of a club concert. Quite a contrast to Sinner’s Day Summer last week. An indoor concert made it a bit more intimate. Familiar faces from the Nunhood and making contact is always nice. There was plenty of opportunity for networking. Meanwhile, the crew was busy getting everything ready as the first performance started at 19.45.

Sweet Ermengarde (Stagetime 19.45 – 20.25)

Sweet Ermengarde are a gothic rock band from Bochum. Music and light in the venue went out, the fog was on stage. Sweet Ermengarde started as the opener of the Convention. It had been a while since I had seen them at work in the B52 Music Club Eernegem (BE). We were literally blown away by a wall of sound. Everyone was amazed and it became clear that Sweet Ermengarde had a lot to offer. Drew Freeman is the new singer in the band since a few months. We also know him from that other band Sometime The Wolf. It was his first performance with Sweet Ermengarde. We were curious.

The first song was new. It lasted 10 minutes and consisted of two parts: ‘Fragments’ and ‘Faith Healer’ as a medley, they told me. Pure gothicrock, long riffs and Drew’s voice just fit the band perfectly. It was as if they had been playing together for years, what an atmosphere in the venue. ‘Typhonian Trance’ started with its well known bass tones and soaring riff on guitar where the voice was sublime. Pure enjoyment, powerful bass, good guitar riffs, a live drum. This in combination with Drew Freeman’s power voice makes this band already a first highlight of The Convention. Sweet Ermengarde is gothic rock in its original incarnation. The combination of the light show, the strobe light, and the fog on stage along with the well known songs like ‘From Beyond’, ‘Dreamlands’ made Sweet Ermengarde a perfect opener of The Convention. ‘We are here‘ shouted Drew with his arms spread open, and we knew it. He was fantastic, as a first performance this could certainly count. Sweet Ermengarde is great and they proved it. I was completely convinced.

It was a perfect ensemble. Lars Kappeler on bass, Jacques Moch and Ro Bohème on guitar. The live drums of Mischa Kliege completed the whole and added an extra dimension to the band. It literally rocked the venue. Despite the few rehearsals, putting down such a strong set is something few can do. The band closed the set with the cover of Husker Du, ‘Standing by the sea’.

What surprised me was that they did their own thing and they did it perfectly. As a 5 piece band they took the whole stage. I must admit that I did not always recognise the songs. Was it because of the new voice? A wall of sound?, No idea… But they literally blew me away. It was clear that Drew had changed a few things in the band’s sound but in a positive way of course. Tonight we got introduced to them and the audience was with them and happy. Comments afterwards were very positive and it wasn’t going to be easy for the other bands to beat this opener

Setlist :
Fragments (new) / Faith Healer (new) / From Beyond / Typhonian Trance / Kisses / Dreamlands / A Promise To Fulfill / Standing By The Sea (cover).

Your Life On Hold (Stagetime 20.45 – 21.30)

In my opinion this was one of their best performances ever. They had done it! And again in Bochum. The band was on fire, and that after not having played together for a while. The machine was running very well and the band took the whole stage. A brilliant opener like ‚Nowhere Train‘ (from the latest album) immediately made the atmosphere in the venue. ‘I’m on a train to nowhere…’ ‘I’m on a train and I want to get out…’. The Belgian fans in the audience sang along loudly. John Wolf enjoyed it and was giving it 100%. ‘Nowhere Train’ was followed by ‘Tension’ and ‘Already Lost‘, where John Wolf and Emeric provided the necessary spectacle. Stefaan and Emeric showed themselves very strong on guitar and proved their talents once again. John Wolf took his musicians under his wings and controlled the entire stage. It was nice to see. Halfway through the set we got the strong ‚Phoenix‘. A pure gothic rock song with a rock solid middle where Augustijn stepped out of the background and stood on the platform next to drummer Jacky. This was perfect, the response was great. ‘Like a phoenix, I will rise again‘ … goosebumps. With ‚How I wish I could see you again‘ as a beautiful chorus, we got the next hit single ‚Anywhere Out There‘ from the latest album. It’s still very strong and Jonas behind the synths gave himself completely and Jacky drummed himself into a sweat. You could see that the band was on stage with pleasure and full focus. They ended the set with an outstanding track. The explosive ‚Exorcism‘ where John Wolf screamed ‚Let it out…‘ and took the whole stage. ‘Did I wake the devil, or you instead…’ ‘And take it all way…’.

A perfect setlist and good sound combined with an enthousiastic audience, it was a blast! We shouted for more but it was not to be. Afterwards everyone came to the same conclusion: it was their best performance in a long time. The atmosphere of a perfect light show and fog on stage made this possible. Shortly after their performance, the band could be found at the merchandise stand where they were happy to talk to their fans.
Well done!

John Wolf (vocals) – Augustijn Vermandere (bass) – Emeric Debusschere (guitar) – Stefaan Vantyghem (guitar) – Jonas Maes (synth) – Erwin (Jacky) Vantyghem (drums)

Setlist :
Nowhere Train / Tension / Already Lost / Falling / Phoenix / Rome / Anywhere Out There / Attawapiskat / Exorcism

La Scaltra (Stagetime 21.50 – 22.40)

It was time for Gloomy Witchwave. La Scaltra was joined by Mike York (new member) on bass and Jay Sharpe on the guitar, so we got the witches (Aeleth Kaven vocals, Dae Widow vocals and synth) guided by two men. It was in perfect symmetry. The Gloomy Wave was a lot slower and gave us some time to enjoy the darkwave. For the band, this was the first gig with Mike and it was good. In my opinion Aeleth’s voice was a bit less powerful during the performance but when singing together with Dae it came into its own. The set was a combination of classics and one new song. The intro was followed by ‘The Spell’, immediately followed by ‘Church of B’ and ‘Chained Hysteria’. People were dancing in the venue. ‘And we pray,… love might heal everyone… in Chained Hysteria’…’We claim mysteria…’. The song was played with a nice guitar riff by Jay and the bass by Mike came out stronger halfway through the song. The new song ‚Vassago‘ was super. It was the first time I heard it live and it was very strong. You could see Aeleth and Dae singing together (hand-in-hand): ‘about the elements fire (smoke) and water‘ with an ode to Nature / Mother Earth. Our mother nature is dying and we are part of it.

This is the new La Scaltra that sounds pretty good. A bit rougher than the older work. Jay’s guitar work came out well in the new song. It was nice to see Mike York back on stage. He replaced Saeda Moreau (left the band) on bass and did a great job. His typical bass style worked very well with La Scaltra. If you want to dance, here is ‚Nightmares‘. And yes. This remains their classic that got everyone dancing. ‘Find beauty in darkness in the night..’ ‘Going through Nightmares, Nightmares!…’

It was a nice gig. No gothic rock but their Gloomy Wave proved that the audience loved the Witches. The band managed to bring a unique sound to the stage with their Gloomy Witch Wave Rock and fascinated the audience.

Intro / The Spell / Church Of B / Chained Hysteria / Burning / Neverland / Vassago (new) / Toxicated / Nightmares

Merciful Nuns (Stagetime 23.00 – 00.05)

Merciful Nuns was the headliner at the Solar Lodge Convention with any doubts. The concert was announced as ‚a kvltanian performance‘.

‘Sarru mass and welcome to Kvltan’. With these words, Artaud Seth entered the stage with the opening track ‘Kvltan: the origin’. A huge Giant was projected on the screen. ‘What if life did not originate on Earth‘ …. ‚Move Back’… ‘Move Back’… ‚History‘ ! Artaud threw himself completely and was looking for contact with the audience more than ever. The new song was very powerful live. A powerful and true goth anthem! This was followed by the songs ‚Blue Lodge‘ and ‚Body Of Light‘. The well-known intro of ‚Karma Inn‘ made people jump up and down and sing along loudly. It remains a classic that the audience immediately recognised. ‚Broken Column‘ was also new in the setlist and was performed with the beautiful visuals from the video clip. It was all done in perfect harmony and brought with extreme precision. The light show, the video walls. One would even forget that Jacques Moch is the new guitarist in the band and I could not hear any difference from the previous performances in 2019. Talking about perfection. From the new album, they played ‚Down Dark Hallways‘ which was done superb. Artaud sang loudly: ‚Shine, outshine’… ‘We can shake the Earth and move the Sun!…’. Top. The song was performed synchronously with the images of the video single on the screens. This made it complete. Very well done. During the bands masterpiece ‚Eternal Decay‘ (the song finds its origin in their India trip) Artaud took the opportunity to announce the new guitarist Jaqcues Moch and also Jawa Seth on bass. That was followed by an introduction by Artaud in which he explained why the Nuns are back and then the song ‚The Pyramid‘ was started. It remains an emotional moment for all of us here at the Lodge with Brother Fidens voice at the end.

The audience wanted more and got more. Two more songs followed. The ‚Passing Bell‘, in which Artaud used the spotlight to illuminate the audience, creating an extremely dark and scary atmosphere. The song burst open halfway through. Finally, the night went on with ‚The Kvltanians‘ from the new album. A great intro with the guitar riff on repeat. ‘An ancient astronaut speaks from a time before time… listen!’. The basses literally clattered around your ears with this song. ‘We are the last of the lost ones’…
A top night out… where sound, video and lights were in balance. Merciful Nuns are back and better than ever.

Kvltan: The Origin (new) / Blue Lodge / Body Of Light / Karma Inn / Broken Column (new) / Black Halo / Allseeing Eye / Down Dark Hallways (new) / Eternal Decay / The Pyramid / Passing Bell / The Kvltanians (new).

Thanks to the Solar Lodge Crew for making this event possible!

Tired and satisfied we made our way home with another 3h30min drive. We drove into the night with great memories.

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