Nagold 2019 has been Liv Kristine’s ninth concert in a row in Alte Seminarturnhalle/ Nagold. Don’t be fooled, if you are a fan of Liv, it has become a tradition that Christmas already begins the Friday before Christmas.
Getting to Nagold is an adventure each year because as Vera Nijveld once told me “Nagold is in the middle of nowhere“. Maybe not exactly like this due to the fact that a big city like Stuttgart is just about 40 kilometers from there but getting to Nagold requires a lot of travel arrangements either in your own car or in a rental or a combination of various means of public transport.
I would like to share with you my experiences that turn a simple concert report into a travel diary for you to get an idea of what it was like or to simply write down an experience that I believe cannot get any better than the year before but it simply can, which is one of Liv’s greatnesses.
This year the journey turned out to be especially expensive from Barcelona so that I decided to benefit from the creativity and the romantic spirit of Willy Fog which characterizes me best.
Surprisingly the flight to Basel (Switzerland), yes, you’re reading well, Switzerland, cost only 19.99 Euros in comparison to those 80 Euros which a ticket to Stuttgart would have cost. That is why I started to do some research on possible combinations of every type of transport. I quickly eliminated a coach to Freiburg (let us take in mind that the EuroAirport is right at the border between Basel in Switzerland, Freiburg in Germany and Mulhouse in France) because it took four hours. A car rental which allows you to cross the border to Germany was too expensive so I opted for the train.
I FELL IN LOVE WITH BASEL
I arrived to Basel at 9 am and had some hours to visit the city center which I already knew from Liv’s two concerts in Pratteln in 2012 and 2013 and went to Media Markt, which is located right at the Basel SBB central Station, in order to buy some records. It was a dull day with bearable temperatures, which allowed me to take a stroll across Barfüsserplatz with its Christmas Market. I was surprised by the amount of Swiss flags and city emblems in the streets and in the windows, which shows how much the people identify with their country and city. Neither in Catalonia nor in Spain are we used to this.
STUTTGART ENCHANT ME
After I had returned to the train station I took a fast train in direction to Cologne. I was surprised that the train had 30 waggons! Being modern and comfortable it allowed me to get more insight in German geography and landscapes, one part more interesting than the previous one. In Karlsruhe I had to change trains, this time in direction to Hanover and got off in Stuttgart. On the train ride I met Caroline, a nice woman from Venezuela, engineer by profession and cook by vocation. We talked about traveling, culture, Liv Kristine and she told me where in Königsstraße I could find some gifts for my children. Nice to learn that “Frozen“ and football can be found almost everywhere (laughter). A detour to Saturn looking for more records and a very short stop at the Christmas market and at Schloßplatz completed my short, intense visit to the city center of Stuttgart. Unfortunately there was no time left for me to go to Second Hand, a record store that Liv had recommended to me. This goes up onto the bucket list for 2020.
MY CONCERT BEGAN A LOT BEFORE…
From there I picked up my rental car to get to Nagold. It was already getting dark at 4 pm. I started recognizing those small towns and roads. This is also part of the experience. A little layback of the soundcheck allowed me to arrive in time to watch it. When I entered the door to the venue Liv greeted me while singing and I immediately saw Anette Uvaas Gulbrandsen sitting close to the stage. I was so happy to finally meet her in person since we had known each other only virtually. Before I wanted to sit down to talk to her, someone was calling me by my name und gave me a hug. It was Michael – Mikkel – Hansen, Liv’s fiancé. An absolutely amazing person, who, just having met me for the very first time – offered me all the perks of the venue that you could have thought of.
We were chatting for a few minutes until Liv came down from the stage. She welcomed me warmly and it already became clear to me that my journey had been worth the effort, because Liv turns any event into something special. Anette, Liv and me sat down to chat and Anette gave me two copies (vinyl and CD), both signed and with a dedication to me) of The Sabbathian’s Latum Alterum, which I appreciated a lot.
A bit later two “virtual friends“ and members of the Facebook community “Liv Kristine Fans Assembly“, Rocco Cogliati and Chris Smiedi arrived with whom I should stay together until the early morning. Two adorable and attentive guys who also had traveled to Nagold on their own. Within those few minutes we had established our very own UNO with Anette – one Norwegian, one German, one Italian and one Spaniard. If this had been soccer, I would have repeated what Johan Cruyff stated many years ago that “it’s always eleven against eleven and at the end the Germans always win“. But since this is about music it’s pretty obvious that we made friendship, shared our experiences, thoughts and anecdotes, some glasses of wine and even more funny stories. It was a night to remember and repeat. Being given admission to the venue before door open made it possible for us to be the first ones to purchase the new merchandise, to have the very first copies in our hands and to buy the entire stock of The Sabbathian before anyone else had the chance to.
As always the venue had an excellent dinner ready to our convenience before the concert.
Audionaut, a quartet that mixes rock, metal and some stoner rock entered the stage at 8 pm. After the band members had managed to get over their first stage fright, the music turned out to be very agile and fit well to the voice of their vocalist Hope Nightrose. The band played their set very confidently. “At the End of the Day“ was one of their bests tracks played at that concert. As always I really appreciated the fact that the Alte Seminarturnhalle tends to chose local acts as support for Liv Kristine, which the locals music scene seems to benefit a lot from.
LIV, AN EARTHQUAKE
The clock finally struck nine and everyone was waiting impatiently on their seats. The intro allowed the musicians to enter the stage and Liv had the audience cheering for her as soon as she opened the concert with “Vervain“. Right from the start I was aware of the fact that this concert would happen with such a vertigo, like always when you have been awaiting an event for so long. Liv did not want to make us wait any longer and welcomed her special guest Anette Uvaas Gulbrandsen, her best friend from Norway, on stage. Together they performed “Stronghold of Angels“ which – if I’m not wrong – was sung live for the very first time. Anette performed excellently despite of her nerves and I think that her voice fit very well to Liv’s, as they have already proven various times on records (let’s not forget that Anette collaborated with Leaves’ Eyes and that Liv did so for The Sabbathian).
For “Oblivious“, one of my favorite tracks from “Vervain“, Anette contributed the backing vocals and the result turned out to be marvelous. But Liv decided to throw more oil on the fire as she began to play “Love Decay“, a song that I have always preferred in the version without Michelle Darkness and the response from the fans was unanimous when they cheered even more for “Image“, the first Theatre of Tragedy song of the concert.
Liv closed the first part of the concert with the three songs “Silence“, “Panic“ and “Siren“ which have become classics in her repertoire. Even though those songs are loaded with emotions, this time “Silence“ turned out to be overwhelming since it managed to create an atmosphere that no one was able to escape from. After 40 minutes already half of the concert had passed and we watched the rest of the concert with Anette with whom we were able to share the feelings and emotions of of her experience on stage.
The second half of the concert was not as balanced as the first one but equally celebrated by her fans. “Commute“ and “Machine“ have always been very special moments in her concerts. “The Man with the Child in his Eyes“, even though it is a great interpretation of the song, has never been among my favorites but this time it made me change my opinion. Liv interpreted the song very wholeheartedly and managed to transmit her emotions very honestly. After having won the audience it was time to preset her two new songs. I had had the chance to listen to “Gravity“ some weeks before and to Skylight during the soundcheck but now it was time to see how these two songs work out live. The finals result was more than perfect and both songs passed their test. The fans paid attention to the details, to Liv’s voice and to the melodies. The last time that Liv had sung a song live before it was published on CD had been “Libertine“ in 2011, during her very first Nagold concert. I really adored “Gravity“, very intimate, very deep.
When Liv and her band returned after a short break, the stage filled with magic because it was the first time after five years that Liv performed “A Distance There Is“, the theme of her career. Together with “The Rarest Flower“ it is the song of my life and listening to the songs live I was no longer able to hold back my emotions and my tears; I could not help myself but to close my eyes and allowed myself to drift away to the melodies that Patrick played with his fingers while I felt as if Liv was singing only for me. A sensation that cannot be brought back.
As it has become a tradition for her Christmas concerts and especially for her Nagold show, it was now time for her very own interpretations of classic Christmas carols, for Schubert’s “Ave Maria“ and for “Pie Jesus“, a song that she sings every year in her soprano voice and that will never cease to enchant me. Liv had held back one more great surprise for the great finale of the concert – the piano version of “Skylight“, a tasty tidbit that I did not want to end ever, with incredible and uncountable beauty that brought a bright smile on my face for more than three minutes. Without doubt, this was one of the highlights of the concert. After the song a fan gave her a bouquet of flowers and the staff of the venue prepared a tray of beers for the band.
The concert ended after 1:45 hours with “Love Decay“ once more as encore, this time with the entire audience up on their feet, climbing up onto the stage, hugging the musicians and giving back to them the passions that they had put on stage.
The after show party began directly after the last song and Liv spent once again more than three hours with her fans. Even though she was tired and exhausted she did not cease to smile and chat with everyone. No one had to leave with our a photo, an autograph or without being given the chance to talk to her because Liv values her fans very highly.
I spent the rest of the evening with Anette, Rocco and Chris but I also got to know Vera Nijveld, her husband Marco von Smuda and Chantal Lodewikus who turned out to be very lovely; I also met Uli from the north of Germany and Adam Brown and Nick Clark from England. It is always a great pleasure to meet Anna Finke, a very lovely, kind and always helpful person, as well as Ina and Klaus, two close friends of Liv, with whom I also had the chance to chat. In between all those glasses of white wine had taken an effect and the evening ended with all her fans still present at the venue climbing up onto the stage to take a photo that you might have seen on social networks.
It was later than 2 pm and I had a room at the same hotel where Liv and her band were staying (thank you, Liv). Now it was time for one last adventure with the keys to the hotel room, wasn’t it, Anette?
Time to take a shower, to sleep a couple of hours and to leave again for the airport since my plane was about to depart early in the morning.
A very short trip, just enough time to open and close your eyes, asking yourself if all of this had just been a dream. Everything couldn’t have been more perfect since dreams are meant to be lived.
Thank you to all the people that I met on this journey but especially to Liv and Mikkel for making me feel at home as always, like one additional band member and for offering me all the amenities during this trip; to Anette for a fantastic evening full of joy, laughter and complicity; to Rocco and Chris for being the best company during the show, I hope to repeat this with you in 2020; to Anna for being so adorable and to Vera for being so close.
Ye, in this report I would like to recall all of them because Nagold is neither just an event nor only a place for Liv and her fans; Nagold is a very personal event for all of us that goes way beyond the music; it is like a family reunion each year right before Christmas.
Text and photos by Marc Gutiérrez