In Extremo

Am Goldenen Rhein DVD

Written by: GR on 17/01/2010 20:29:38

Little over a year ago, just before Christmas 2008, German medieval rock/metal band In Extremo filmed their performance in the city of Cologne and the end result was "Am Goldenen Rhein" (On The Golden Rhine), released as a double live album, DVD and 'limited deluxe edition' last year - this review being of the standard single-disc DVD. I think it's fair to say that concert DVDs generally only appeal to existing fans of the artist in question - I've certainly never bought one to check out a band - and don't have the slightly wider appeal of, for instance, an interesting band documentary. With that in mind I must admit to not being familiar with any of In Extremo's music before viewing this DVD and as such it has taken me a while to actually sit down and give it my full attention. It also means my opinion of In Extremo's music itself is not something I'm taking into account here, rather the quality of the live performance captured and the package as a whole.

What becomes clear as the main feature begins is how popular In Extremo are in their home country, the fairly large hall being full from back to front with cheering, whistling and clapping fans. The band hit the stage with a bang of pyrotechnics and launch into a set lasting for almost two hours, which represents value for money if nothing else. They aren't the most high-octane bunch of performers around but plenty of camera angles and some decent editing work keep things interesting for the most part with shots ranging from the usual close-ups and sweeps of the whole venue to views from within the audience. The band might not be jumping around, but their use of many traditional instruments (bagpipes, harp, shawm, nyckelharpa, cittern, tromba marina) provides a visual spectacle in itself and each of these, along with the usual guitars/bass/drums, are audible in the nicely balanced sound mix. The between-song banter from frontman Das letzte Einhorn is minimal (and in German, obviously) but he soon has the vocal crowd singing and clapping along and performs with the kind of confidence that comes from over a decade of doing so. At times the lack of energy on stage makes things a bit boring but the balance struck between band and crowd, in terms of sound and visuals, is successful in capturing the feel of the event as a whole.

Notable highlights of the set include the appearance of a guest bagpiper taking the number of people playing these on stage to four - all moving in unison much like heavy metal guitarists; a balladic duet with a rather attractive female singer, sat at a table with wine for full romantic effect; multi-instrumentalist Yellow Pfeiffer spinning a "fire wand" (a stick with fireworks coming out of each end!) around his body in impressive fashion and the blasts of fire and other pyrotechnics throughout the performance. An enjoyable finale rounds the set off, with blazing drumsticks, even more pyrotechnics and a spontaneous circle of jigging crowd members showing an In Extremo gig is about more than just the music.

Also included on the disc is a 23 minute "Auf tour mit In Extremo" mini-documentary that features sit-down interviews with the band members as well as a look at the preparation for the Cologne gig. It's pretty interesting, if fairly standard, stuff which gives a brief insight into the band, their feelings on touring, what the band has achieved and each other, as well as the work going into their productions. Discovering they have a screen in their tour bus toilet showing a video of horses roaming on rolling hills was quite amusing, as was the accidental dead-pan humour of one of the members describing other features of the bus. Besides this, eight of the band's official videos are included, which might be a bit redundant in these days of Youtube, but are actually worth watching thanks to their high production values and quirky themes. Overall this DVD doesn't offer anything outstanding, especially with so many bands producing multiple-disc extravaganzas, but for In Extremo fans there's a good gig and a few extras that make it worthwhile, assuming the price is reasonable.

Download: N/A
For the fans of: In Extremo, Medieval rock/metal
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 15.05.2009

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