September 12th, Kattwinkelsche Fabrik, Wermelskirchen, Germany
On a Saturday night in a small, cozy and nicely filled room an attentive as well as enthusiastic audience was captivated by the music of Marina V and Johna. For over two hours they entertained us with Pop sounds and songs that covered many emotions between happinesss to melancholia. It was a successful evening, perfect for forgetting all about time and the world around us for a while.
Have you ever heard of Wermelskirchen? No worries, neither had I until a few weeks ago. Who would have thought that you have to go there, to the basement of the Kattwinkelsche Fabrik to find a wonderful series of concerts named “Couchgeflüster” that happens every month? Designed as living room concerts, lesser known bands (at least as far as Gerany is concerned) play there in an intimate setting before around 50 guests. On September 12th, the German Singer/Songwriter duo Johna and the Russian-American Pop singer Marina V played one set each.
Johna started the evening and won over the audience from the first song. It was simply impossible not to be drawn in by Nadine Krämer’s beautiful voice, and the melodies that she and Kolja Pfeiffer played on guitar and piano were just as irresistible. Their music was simply lovely, sometimes more quiet, at other times more powerful. The lyrics told stories about life and feelings everyone can relate to. Sometimes Nadine gave a few explanations about the songs, but often she just let the music talk.
Not only were Johna really good, they also came across as very likeable people, told stories, cracked jokes and made sure to involve the audience. Singing along alone wasn’t enough, they also divided us into groups, e.g. asking everyone wearing glasses to sing. Towards the end of their set they asked the young singer Sihna Maagé to join them on stage to play a few songs with her. She was the big surprise of the evening and not only did she sing well, but also brought her own songs. The audience was so excited they called her back for an encore. Rightfully so! In 25 years and around 500 concerts I’ve heard a lot, but Sihna still managed to surprise me. I would have liked to hear more, but after three songs it was over. After her Johna played two more songs and when everyone was cheering and yelling for more, even a very last one. Their set alone was worth the long trip to the concert.
Following a short break, Marina V took the stage, playing her emotional and often melancholic songs alone on the piano. Usually Nick accompanies her on guitar, but he could not be on tour with her this time. Therefore she played the guitar as well. She also captivated the audience immediately – everyone was listening intently to the music and her clear voice.
During the course of the evening she made me laugh, brought me close to tears and made me forget about the world around me. I lost my sense of time and got lost in the music. All of her songs, from the energetic “Run” in two languages to the soulful “You make me beautiful” and the fierce “Speak”, were performed perfectly. Each note was just right. Time and again she connected with the audience, asked us questions and replied to comments. Apart from Russian melancholia – “Russia does not do happy” as she put it – she brought lighter tunes as well, like the new “Sunshine guaranteed”. We even got to hear a premiere, because it was the first time she and Nadine performed the new song “Back again” they had written together.
Later the audience was once again asked to participate, sang and clapped along. Marina gladly played requests and performed her own song “Fairytale or not” and a wonderful cover version of Guns ‘n’ Roses’ “Don’t cry” for the people who had traveled furthest to see her. Latest with the encore she held everyone in the room in the palm of her hand, and judged by the amount of cheers, she could have continued for a few more hours. Unfortunately even great concerts have to end some time and after well over an hour she said goodbye with one last song. It took a while for everyone to land back in reality, but everyone managed, and those who wanted to got the chance to chat with Marina, Johna and Sihna afterwards. It was an amazing evening after which I made my way home still high on happiness.
Photo: Stefanie Oepen