Silbermond lights up Berlin in cathartic home concert

Currently in the midst of their “Himmel auf” tour, Silbermond illuminated Berlin’s O2 World arena last night with their unique, powerful brand of emotional Deutschrock. The four musicians, originally from Bautzen, have relocated in the meantime to Berlin, and lead singer Stefanie Kloß spoke of the band’s enormous satisfaction at finally playing in O2 World, after months of commuting past the venue while en route to their studio.

The concert was equally satisfying for the crowd of around 11,000, who threw themselves wholeheartedly into the gripping meld of togetherness which arises at Silbermond shows, singing along in a massive chorus and mirroring the various fan gestures which swept the arena. I was particularly touched by the fanaction at the beginning of “Symphonie,” which I hadn’t expected—as the song began, fans in the know from the Silbermond forum quickly crouched down behind the barrier, only springing up when the music built up to a point of release. The rest of the crowd on the floor was quickly caught in the spirit of the moment. Seeing thousands of people kneel down spontaneously in front of one of my favorite rock bands was incredibly surreal—I’ve always thought of certain concerts as serving a cathartic purpose similar to the collective worship sessions of mass religions, but it’s still stunning to actually be part of such a dramatic moment:

Another heart-stopping moment for me arrived with the song “Weiße Fahnen,” off their latest album, Himmel auf. The band played the quiet acoustic ballad out on the catwalk in the midst of the crowd. The lyrics tell of a little boy caught in a war zone who dreams of peace:

“Ein leiser Wind weht, und der Himmel ist weit / dieser Krieg ist aus, und die Soldaten gehen heim / und weiße Fahnen wehen, und alle sind frei, frei, frei / diese Nacht, mein Freund, habe ich vom Frieden geträumt.”

(“A quiet wind blows, and the sky is broad / this war is over, and the soldiers go home / and white flags wave, and all are free, free, free / this night, my friend, I have dreamt of peace.”)

I just about broke down under the intensity of the moment. A massive, resonant wave of eleven thousand voices, singing of peace in unison, only a few hundred yards from the mural-bearing remnants of the Berlin Wall. I wanted to take the crowd’s beautiful voices and broadcast them to every ignorant American I’ve ever encountered who still carries a wildly false image of Germany. I was overwhelmed with love for these pacifistic, art- and music-loving people, who have shown me so much kindness and honesty, who are just good on such a deep level, who have magnificently validated my desire and willingness to relate to other human beings with fearlessness and trust. Please, if you’re reading this and haven’t had the pleasure to experience Germany for yourself: the next time Germany comes up in conversation, stop yourself from blindly reaching for those hideous, stale stereotypes. This country is not about schnitzel, lederhosen and “Inglourious Basterds.” The modern German language does not sound like the harsh shouting you may have heard in war films. It sounds like a chanteuse with a crystalline, angelic voice, moving thousands of people to tears. Listen to a Silbermond song, and then tell me the language isn’t beautiful.

It was also moving, as always, to see Stefanie and guitarist Thomas’ obvious love for each other, manifested in the music they make together. The two have been a couple for several years, providing inspiration for tracks like the following “Ja”—in my opinion, one of the most romantic songs ever written. Thomas’ backup vocals also mingle beautifully with Stef’s on this one:

Many of Silbermond’s songs also accompanied me throughout my final year at college and hectic summer filled with visa battles, as I missed Berlin and fought first to make my way back, then to win the right to stay. Songs like “Krieger des Lichts,” in the setting of O2 World, were a beautiful reminder of success, while “Ich bereue nichts” and “Irgendwas bleibt” also induced memories and peaceful satisfaction with the state of life, the universe and everything.

Altogether, a fantastic concert experience, and well worth the frigid day waiting in subfreezing temperatures outside. This band unfailingly delivers the kind of live show that moves you on a deep level. For the story of my 2010 Silbermond concert adventure, see Midnight Monsoon.

Photos (Copyright Caitlin Hardee, Nomad News):

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