Serj Tankian – Admiralspalast, Berlin 2010

Sadly, we were not allowed to photograph this show, but we felt this shouldn’t keep us back from trying to let you in on the fun anyway, so here goes.

“In the old days people used to be noisy, drink and eat in places like this, just like you do now. It’s sad how it has turned into such an elitist establishment, but we’re trying to bring some of the old times back tonight!”

Thus spoke Serj Tankian to the assembled crowd in front of him.
We were all gathered in the beautiful theatre-hall of Admiralspalast in Berlin, where for this night the chairs and suit-and-tie clad audience had been removed to make way for a bunch of hairy, sweaty and rowdy people; my kind of people.
Still, the old venue with its balconies, white-and-gold walls and massive chandelier made a perfect setting for an artist who constantly likes to develop and ever change his way of expression. This night he wasn’t giving us the normal rock-show, he was here with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, and songs re-worked to fit a large orchestra instead the normal guitars-bass- drums line-up which we are used to.
In history, we have seen several rock bands take the step to play together with a symphony orchestra, but to my knowledge none have taken it as far as Tankian did; completely dropping the band and playing solely with the orchestra! Well, not completely dropped, but Dan Monti (acoustic guitar, backing vocals) and Erwin Khachikian (grand piano), both of the F.C.C., were perfectly fitted into the setting of the orchestra, and performed admirably like all the others (although slightly more used to this kind of crowd, that much was obvious).

Serj Tankian served us up with almost all of his Elect The Dead material coupled with musically enhanced poem-reading (the text found at his site with the Borders Are track) and three songs off of his upcoming album Imperfect Harmonies (Gate 21 I knew, and he did say the name of the others, I think, but it was impossible to hear over the crowd); all of which were great in their own way, but standing together they formed an incredible whole, the likes of which has never been seen before.
The music and vocals were well-balanced against each other, and even though little or no room can be left for improvisation while playing with so many people in the cast, Tankian’s special talent for playing with his voice still made the how feel alive and unique, and as Monti put in backing vocals for several of the songs it almost sent shivers down my spine how well they sounded together.
Tankian also took over the grand piano for the new track Gate 21, known from the Elect The Dead Symphony recordings from Auckland, New Zealand, and the song sounded just as good here as it did down under.

The word, above all others, for the day was still joy.
The joy of the crowd was easily seen and heard as arms were raised in unison to clap, feet stomped the floor to ask for more and voices roared out in appreciation, so loud it even drowned out what was coming from the stage.
The joy of the orchestra could not be missed as they beamed light rays of sunshine at the massive response they were getting for the performance (I am guessing their ‘normal’ crowds wouldn’t think of behaving like this), and the F.C.C. members were perfectly happy as well; Khachikian even came out after the show to greet and speak with the fans who were still hanging around.
None was more overjoyed than Tankian himself however; the mastermind behind it and the instigator of this whole event was so intense and immersed you wouldn’t believe unless you saw it with your own eyes; or as Lunah (Lauridsen, our photographer) put it, he looked as though he tried to take so much in that he could hardly be in the present. He was so enthusiastic, little basic thing such as where the stage exit was simply couldn’t fit in (seen as he meant to leave the stage after Beethoven’s Cunt, but ended up right back where he started, where after he tried again and found the correct exit).

The only regret, if one could claim such a feeling after being handed a gift as this, was that the whole show felt a bit short.
Of course, no support band was present, the type of concert made that impossible, but neither was there an actual need for another band. The thing is, that as the sole performer of the evening, and having a set which only lasted for about an hour, I did feel like it was all over almost before it started. I for one could have gone on for much longer, and like an addict I felt the surge, the need to overdose on the combined musical talent gathered in the room. Instead I was left with the sweat dripping from my back, with a cold beer in my hand, and a strong desire to travel the world for a chance at living through this yet again...


Feed Us
Sky Is Over
Lie Lie Lie
Gate 21
(new song - title unknown)
The Charade
Honking Antelope
Saving Us
(new song - title unknown)
Elect The Dead
Falling Stars
Beethoven’s Cunt
Empty Walls

Text: Tobias Nilsson

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