A woman stands amongst the tangled strands of a steel labyrinth. A distant bass rumbles overhead. Pressure grows. No, this isn’t a scene from a Ridley Scott movie. This is Helene Fischer live in concert.
You might remember the blog post about my desperate plea for courage and overcoming a travel phobia to see her live. (Here.) I wrote that last year, and I’m now two months away. Still no jitters, no nerves, and now I know what I’ll be seeing now that the arena tour has been released on DVD.
From early images and video clips I had reservations about this production. Helene Fischer is an all round entertainer and isn’t shy about flying about, but, I wondered, would this show be more circus act than concert performance?
Ultimately my concerns were unfounded, but at the end of the show, nearly three hours later there was something odd, something . . . missing.
Maybe it was the cinematic format; the slow motion sequences, the black and white clips backstage, the audience noise pushed back in the sound mix. Maybe it was the new song arrangements, melancholy one minute, wistful the next, as if there was some emotion reaching out, but not quite making it.
For this tour Helene used 45 Degrees, a division of Cirque du Soleil and to me circuses have always been a paradox: bright, lively, colourful, factories of happiness, but draw back the canvas and behind the scenes are poverty, unhappiness, transience. (Real circuses might be nothing like this, but that’s my impression based on film, television, documentaries and literature.)
The prevailing mood of the DVD was best illustrated by the song Mit Keinem Anderen, a typical rousing slab of schlager that raises the roof of the biggest stadium, but here it was stripped back in the opening bars, sung over a laconic piano accompaninent and with all the brooding potential of a summer rainstorm. It eventually burst out, but those eery piano notes remained throughout the arrangement.
Watching the documentary gave some explanation to what was going on. The theme was time and Helene’s experiences that had formed her perception of the world. I could see that on the second viewing. The hydraulic ramp that circles above the head of the crowd like the hand of a clock face, the high wire playground swing in a swirl of autumn gold leaves; the concert seemed to be a journey backwards in time and on the way moments of sadness, moments of hope, moments of fantasy, a longing to fly (the breathtaking aerial choreography of Ich Wollte Mich Nie Mehr Verlieben – ‘I Never Wanted to Fall in Love Anymore’)
And then it came home. I was projecting my own life onto the emotion and atmosphere of the concert: the personal journey, the evocative arrangements taking me back in time, the current transition in career and hope that things will turn out better. . . . This concert touched a nerve, a deep nerve.
The stadium tours are usually a little different to the preceding arena tours, but Helene Fischer has invested so much time and energy in the 45 Degrees production that I’ll see the same show in Dusseldorf and it’ll be interesting to see which nerves are touched when I’m there in the flesh, immersed in the experience, and that giant ticking clock hand passing overhead. Maybe I’ll decide not to come home.