29th July 2003
L'Air de Fête

To celebrate the release of their new album 'Tristan', the members of Dies Natalis decided to take the road for a string of dates organised through out the South of Europe (Italy, France, Spain, Portugal). A good way to meet their audience and to present their new compositions as well as their new line-up.

The main evolution of the band during the last few months is the arrival of Susanne Schulze (vocals and piano) and Jens Vetter (vocals, guitar and percussions) who have joined Tobias Strahl (vocals, guitar and main composer of Dies Natalis songs) and Norbert Strahl (vocals, percussions and graphics).

Following all these upheavals, it was with even more impatience that the coming of Dies Natalis was awaited.

Situated a few steps away from the Promenade des Anglais, in the heart of the old town's maze of streets, 'l'Air de Fête' opens on a narrow vaulted place, disposed on three levels with a record stall (to complete one's Dies Natalis discography), a bar and the concert space. Thirty odd people have replied present to the invitation.
Songs from various dark-folk bands (Current 93, Sol Invictus,...) are played to pass the time and to immerse the a udience into the atmosphere of the evening, until Suzanne discretely takes place behind the keyboards to interpret the 'prolog (Tristans abyss)'. The signal is given. Within a few minutes, all the seats are taken and the first flashes go off.

While the other members settle down, Suzanne leaves the keyboards to Alexander Meier (piano and guitar, traditional member of Dies Natalis even if he was absent from the recording of 'Tristan') to stand behind a microphone. She presents, in French, the programme for the evening: a first part will be exclusively devoted to the songs from 'Tristan' then, after a short break, a second part will offer the possibility to listen to several titles taken from the earlier releases.

From there on, with solemnity and sobriety, the titles follow each other in the same order as the album.
The martial sonorities of Dies Natalis's earlier works disappear behind influences drawn from traditional Anglo-Saxon music to give a more acoustic orientation to the band.

Susanne's voice fits in perfectly with the new compositions. She accompanies and entwines in softness and sensitivity Tobias and Norbert's vocal presence. Suzanne stands in the centre of the stage and seems to be completely at ease amongst the band. Between strength and power, fire and ice, she imposes her feminine sweetness. The title 'Time goes on - From dusk to dawn' makes one realise the importance she has now taken in the band. Drawn from the 'Abyss' MCD, this song, now sung with three voices is a true success. Dies Natalis prove that they have found their true colours, that they are capable of evolving and developing their repertoire. They also prove that they are a stage band. The performance is impeccable. Each band member seems to have found his place. Tobias and Alexander regularly exchange smiles full of complicity while Jens remains very attentive.

Norbert, standing next to Suzanne, is very concentrated but this does not prevent him from exteriorising his pleasure to sing by dancing a few steps, carried away by the rhythm. Tracks like 'Harvest Rain', 'Anabell return' and 'Angels of Babylon', that show a strong potential on record, reveal themselves fully when played on stage. The finale is witness to a magnificent interpretation of 'Tristan', where the musicality and the intensity of this song are pushed to their limits.

After a short pause, the five members of Dies Natalis are back on stage for a half hour devoted to titles taken from their first album 'Von Gedanken und der erinnerung' ('Rain' and 'We Stand'), the 'Abyss' MCD ('The past dies in a crime') and the 'Das Graue Corps' compilation ('Ein Wanderer also am ende seiner reise'). Norbert is more present on vocals than he had been during the 'Tristan' titles. Some percussions also make their appearance to remind that Dies Natalis built their reputation on more martial songs. The presence of Suzanne's voice on these titles leaves the impression that it was always part of Dies Natalis's compositions.

Before leaving the stage, Dies Natalis thank their hosts by dedicating to them 'Ride On', a song drawn from the traditional folk heritage.

Dies Natalis are a promising band for the future of dark-folk music. They offered on this 29th of July a very good concert that can be prolonged by listening to their new album.

Rare are the dark-folk bands that come to play in France. Let us hope that the coming of Dies Natalis augurs the commencement of many more concerts of this quality.

Mehr Licht : text & photos
Ian C. : translation & photos
Summer 2003

Dies Natalis : www.dies-natalis.de
Nielozilla : www.nielozilla.de