Such was the concert of Johannes Strate and Sebastian Knauer in Kiel

keel. Perhaps the heroes should not so often emphasize that a special evening awaits in the “beach town” near Falckensteiner Strand – “world premiere”, as SHMF director Christian Kuhnt put it in the introduction. Then he could become a little more special. Because the seemingly unusual combination of Johannes Strate and Sebastian Knauer turned out to be extremely harmonious, both in the interaction and in anecdotal chatter between the pieces.

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After Knauer clashed with Beethoven, “Moonlight Sonata” was typing smoothly into the piano keys with a buttery touch, the star announced that he could already take a shower. Knauer admits to nearly 1,100 guests that he was “very excited” and is looking forward to “can I say great evening”. That’s when Strate, frontman of the German pop-rock band Revolverheld, who is also looking forward to asking the question in the room of the old production hall and warehouse, comes on the stage: “Is it a classic or more rock’n’roll?”

Actually not, except for a few solo Knauer contributions. The arrangements of Revolverheld songs, specially prepared by Fabian Richter for this sold-out concert evening, are dominated by a ballades style, matching the classic disguise. No rock, even if Strate insists his musical heroes are Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. Richter is a kind of interpreter between Knauer and himself, he cannot read music, although his mother is a concert pianist.

Sebastian Knauer and Johannes Strate’s concert in the old production and warehouse hall has been sold out.

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“Nobody can take it from us” and of course Strate sings loudly “Oho-ho-hooo” to the acoustic guitar, Knauer lets the piano chords roll underneath. At the end of the melancholy “Hold on to me”, Knauer sets up a few bright, hopeful chords. A bit of rock appears when Knauer reaches for his oldest semi-acoustic guitar from 1954, bought in New York, to the mid-tempo song “WENN es brennt”. Since he is playing alone, Knauer sits in the back in the shadows. Rare instrumentation is perfect for all songs.

Now Knauer serves Satie solo, an elegantly smooth transition to Revolverheld’s “I’ll change the world”, pathos saturates the air in the room. Brilliantly arranged by Richter, Knauer praises a “completely different version” than the original. He composed it when he was 23, at the time he was just “a complete idiot with dyed blonde hair,” apologizes to Strate. Then they get a little teasing, Knauer uses a cliché of rock bands destroying hotel rooms, which Strate, however, dismisses as a revolver hero. By the way, we both met while taking out the trash.

Experiment in SHMF: string quintet combines as reinforcement

After the break, the duo is strengthened by a string quintet – three violinists, a violist and a double bass player. It is an equally good match for “Signs Are For The Storm”, the strings hug a dramatic song. The only cover of the night, “Denkmal” Wir sind Helden, is also perfect for the pop-classic version. One of the strongest moments of the concert is the simple version of “Room with a View”, which Strate performs himself with the strings – one of Revolverheld’s best songs, anyway.

He’s on the straight home. After “The Greatest”, which Strate dedicated to his son, follows “The Door is Always Open”, surrounded by sensual strings and oscillating between hope and melancholy, and – with the greatest joy – the hit “I leave the light on for you.” A standing ovation, which is no surprise, and for an encore a bit livelier “Retelling”.

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