Live report LONG DISTANCE CALLING, JONATHAN HULTEN & PIL&BUE, Gruenspan, Hamburg – March 18th, 2023

Long Distance Calling are without a doubt one of the most important German post rock and progressive bands. Not only do they have a lot to offer musically, but also the unusual locations of the Seats & Sounds tour have manifested the quartet’s innovative spirit.

I’ve had quite some opportunities to see the band live over the years, and I still remember the first show of Long Distance Calling I witnessed. It was in May 2016 when the guys were on the road together with Rendevous Point and Petter Carlsen, playing at 013 in Tilburg. At the time, Carlsen also was singing a few songs with Long Distance Calling who decided to have him as a singer for the ‘Trips’ album. Almost seven years later Long Distance Calling are once again on the road and it is once again Petter Carlsen who is engaged as opening act only.

This time it’s Pil & Bue, a project the Norwegian runs together with Gøran Johansen. The duo has just released a new album called ‘Special Agents’ and so the upcoming live shows are just what they were looking for to present the new material.

Many people are certainly not aware of Petter Carlson, but you hear a few fans mentioning something like “…seven years ago…”. Right.

Those who thought that the duo would focus on calmer sounds are quickly proven wrong. Pil & Bue, which means as much as bow and arrow in Norwegian, rock hard from the beginning. It is interesting to see what powerful music the two guys bring to stage and some people’s jaw dropped due to the unexpected heaviness. Astonished and admiring, that’s how the reaction of those present in the slowly filling hall can be described (Pil & Bue started 15 minutes for the stated beginning). Petter Carlson and Gøran Johansen delivered a great show and good start into this evening.

In addition, Long Distance Calling have another interesting support with Jonathan Hulten on this tour. Hulten, known to many from his time with Tribulation, has dedicated himself to his solo career since leaving the above-mentioned band. With ‘Chants From Another Place’, Hulten released a solo album in 2020 on which he focused more on the softer songs and so it is the soulful and calmer sounds that fills the room tonight.

Hulten is alone on stage, dressed in a folkloric robe and, as expected, in white make-up. For the next 45 minutes the focus is on nature, emotions and a treat for ones soul. On eeven hear the birds sining between songs. Who came only for Long Distance Calling is surprised about what she/he is offered. And those who know Hulten from his Tribulation days are also caught off guard.

Still, Hulten wins the hearts of the people present at Gruenspan. Even if most of them want to listen to heavy post rock, the sounds of Hulten unfold a fascination of their own and one likes to listen to the soul-warming sounds. Only the disrespectful chatterboxes are disturbing and one wonders why people who have a need to talk are in a concert and not somewhere at the bar.

After the energetic Pil & Bue and the heart-warming Jonathan Hulten, Long Distance Calling come on stage and start their set with ‘Death Box’. It is the intro of the current album ‘Eraser’ and leads into the throbbing ‘Giants Leaving’. This song is also from the new record and it is the vastness of the soundscapes, which is comparable to the span of the mighty bird and thereby musically very well converted. In addition, with ‘Blades’ and ‘Kamilah’ more new songs make it on the setlist of tonight. The fans are obviously very familiar with the new material, as the atmosphere in the hall is immediately on a great level. Wrapped in a well-done stage lighting, it’s the music that is in the center for Long Distance Calling, which is also evident in the awesome title track of the new album. The song closes the regular part of the set and fans really appreciate a lot of what they get offered.

Overall, Long Distance Calling offer a good cross-section of their work and reflect all the facets of their musical output tonight. This includes songs like ‘Immunity’ which sounds live a lot heavier than on the record. And it goes without saying that ‘Black Paper Planes’ and ‘Metulsky Curse Revisited’ are songs that no live show of the four guys can do without. Just thinking about the enthusiastic clapping of fans during ‘Black Paper Planes’ manifests the importance of the song and the great vibe in the room. And nothing could describe the unleashed power of the show better than the broken string on Florian Füntmann’s guitar in the encore part.

Since ‘Erase’ is an album that focusses on species extinction, mainly caused by mankind, a small area for Greenpeace is also reserved at Gruenspan and between regular set and encore the band comes on stage , together with Lotti the sloth just to underline the message of the album also in a live setup.

Long Distance Calling never disappoint. Quality and music beyond the mainstream is what was offered by all three acts tonight. Although the musical approach of the three bands is party different so is it the passion for music, melodies and emotion that all three performances have in common. That’s why a lot lot of happy faces float out of Gruenspan, trying to find their way through the big crowd of the Reeperbahn party zone.

Setlist Long Distance Calling

  1. Death Box
  2. Giants Leaving
  3. Blades
  4. Hazard
  5. Invisible Giants
  6. Immunity
  7. Kamilah
  8. Black Paper Planes
  9. Aurora
  10. Skydivers
  11. Out There
  12. Eraser
  13. Metulsky Curse Revisited (Encore)
  14. Arecibo (Long Distance Calling) (Encore)

Location: Gruenspan, Hamburg, Germany

Date: March 18th, 2023

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