Pop as a theatrical act: three Faber concerts in Munich

But he is well mannered. At 7.45pm, Julian Pollina, aka Faber, takes the stage at Tonhalle in Munich. With a word of praise announces the so-called heater. A special guest, Ansa Sauermann, who comes from Dresden by choice, then heats up the speaker system for half an hour. Then, unannounced, the cellist and pianist indulge in romantic compositions of European classics under the black curtain.

Bourgeois parlor music from bygone ages sounds quiet and well suspended, which is surprising at a pop concert – properly ignored by chatty audiences until the two disappeared from the stage, the synthesizer begins to hover punctually around 9 p.m. and the screech of the electric guitar the roar of the saxophone. The curtain slowly rises, Faber becomes visible, the singer and band in the bright spotlight.

The audience in Faber is incredibly textual

It is impossible to understand everything Julian Pollina sings, but the audience is more than sure of the lyrics. The 29-year-old son of a Swiss journalist and Sicilian cantautor Pippo Pollin now shows them, song by song, the daily horrors of a peculiar panopticon, young guys and stupid guys who cannot distinguish between possession and essence, others also humiliate objects, turn them into substitute agents and not they notice what they are doing to each other. Drunk on pathos and self-pity, they long for closeness and tenderness, but are left alone at the end of the night.

Julian Pollina, son of a songwriter, brother, by the way, of half of the female pop duo Steiner and Madlain, writes angry sentences. Sentences like: “Life is just a number”, “Your head is a prison” or “I named you”. His songs are reminiscent of, say, the iconic songwriter Randy Newman. These are characters’ songs in which – to put it bluntly – model characters express themselves on the history of cases and symptomatic worldviews.

Psychograms of the pathetic nightclub unfortunates

And because songs like to tell about love and intimacy, Faber draws his heroes as crippled selfish, cunning unsympathetic and megalomaniac guys, constantly in search of lust and happiness – psychograms of pathetic nightclubs and nouveau riche scenes.

The band calls themselves Faber, which of course refers to Max Frisch’s novel “Homo faber” and its tragic characters, a typically male technocrat and head-controlled Klemmy, who is unable to express his feelings. The Faber band, this skilfully working sextet, emphasizes the case stories with sometimes a fiery Balkan wind instrument, sometimes with crazy psychedelic rock, cozy cylindrical bliss, world music à la Beirut or with sounds reminiscent of the summer hit “Macarena”, sometimes it is also allowed to do it. Thinking further about the text in heavy solos and instrumental passages, the dry ice fog rises disastrously, flickers a bit too rich light show – pop as a theatrical act, as a musical theater.

A charming stage artist and idiosyncratic songwriter

The artist Faber plays the roles, wears masks and makes them. It only seems different when he sings “Caruso”, Lucio Dalli’s famous ballad bathed in red light at the end of the first third of the concert. “Te voglio bene assai” is the chorus – I want you to be healthy. In any case, one of the strengths of this remarkable songwriter is not only the precise language, including harsh expressions and meanness, but also a voice that suggests maturity and life experience.

This cant author, who now lives in Vienna, knows what he is singing about. In any case, fans believe this charming stage performer and idiosyncratic songwriter. They also want to dance, which is possible, especially in the last period of the concert after the acoustic set, in which Julian Pollina accompanied the guitar himself. The whole room claps, jumps and sings, there is a party atmosphere.

Of course, it is doubtful whether the ambiguity of the lyrics really reaches everyone when the bass hits the limbs and it is enough to move to the beat of the music, but the Faber fans and the long-term effect of the refined lyrics should not be underestimated. This is the volcano dance we live in today. Somehow, it fits quite well in this time, in the 20s of the 21st century.

Faber can still be seen on Wednesday and Thursday at Munich’s Tonhalle. Starts at 20:00, Kunstpark Ost. Orpheum’s new double concert album will also be out on Friday on Vertigo / Berlin.

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