Wow, it has been a long time since I posted here! In a way I wished I had kept records of all the M'era Luna festivals I had been to between 2010 and 2014. For those not in the know, M'era Luna is a German festival that holds a special place in my heart. It is the first German music festival I ever went to back in 2003. I got together with Emily there in 2004 (though we first met at Slimelight a couple of weeks before) and we remain together to this day. The only time I have missed M'era Luna during this time was in 2007. I like other German festivals like Wave Gothic Treffen but that is a big too large for me, as is Wacken Open Air as far as metal is concerned. Since about 2008, my friend Ade has organised a "Goths On A Bus" trip from various pickup point in England direct to the festival ground, and I have made lots of new friends on the coach as well as establishing greater friendships with people I already knew. It genuinely remains one of the highlights of my year.
First of all, we drove to Emily's Mum's place in Woodford where she kindly offered to look after our pet rats (did I ever mention we have 4 rats?) and settled them into their holiday cages before Emily's Grandad gave us a lift to Potters Bar where there was a slight delay for the coach to arrive but we were still on schedule to catch the ferry. This year, there was an additional pick up point at Harold Wood for Essex/East London folk and this coincided with the driver's 45 minute stop. It became Goths in a Pub as we went into the Harold Wood opposite the station. Not sure what the locals made of us but I enjoyed my pint. Pub stops on the journey are definitely a positive! Went back on the coach and made good time to catch our ferry. Didn't go outside this time but enjoyed chips and beer whilst chatting to people I hadn't seen in a while. Once in France, I actually slept pretty well. Got about 3 to 4 hours sleep before waking up to lightning strikes and thunderstorms going through the Netherlands. This didn't bode well as thunderstorms were also predicted for when we arrived on the campsite. Still all cleared by the time we got into Germany for breakfast and were about 4 hours from the campsite.
After a stop for supplies at a Hildesheim supermarket we made our way to the festival ground. Once there, the rain had long stopped and we arrived early enough to be able to pitch our tents together. There were 2 coach loads of us at the festival ground. Rather boringly I decided to get a couple of hours more sleep, but did go to the Medieval village in the evening. This has been a great addition to the festival over the years. Before this, there was sometimes little to do on the Friday night, but new we can drink mead and eat nice food, listening to the medieval band and watching fire dancing. Stayed around there until the early hours mainly talking with Neil, Alan and Emma before making my way back to the tent.
It rained during the early morning, which helped me sleep a little longer as the tent didn't get too hot. This was the first day of bands. Whilst M'era Luna has a reputation of recycling line ups every couple of years, this time (especially lower down the bill) there were quite a few acts I hadn't seen before. I got into the Hangar in time to see the first of these, Nachtgeschrei, the first of quite a few German medieval acts. They had a metally bagpipe sound and were a good start to the day. Then outside for another medival act I hadn't seen, Versengold. They were lighter and more folky in sound and went down very well with those who were there early enough to see them. Next up were the first band I really wanted to see Coppelius. They are a crazy Victorian inspired German band with cellos and clarinets(?). Loved their Iron Maiden covers of Killers and Charlotte the Harlot. Probably the most fun band of the festival. Then back into the Hangar for German Horrorpunk act The Other, another fun band before going back outside the catch the second half of Ost-Front's set. I know it is an overused cliche to say that such-and-such German band sounds like Rammstein but, in this case, it is an accurate description.
Then there was a break in bands I wanted to see so I had some lunch in the medieval market before coming back in for Deathstars who were as funny as ever though Emily really enjoyed them. Into the hangar for Merciful Nuns who were very like The Sisters of Mercy, even their name sounds like a play on words. Still this is no bad thing in my book, if there is one thing lacking in recent M'era Luna line ups it is good old fashioned guitar driven gothic rock. Really enjoyed their show, brought back memories of seeing the singer's previous band Garden of Delight, and the visuals were very Nephilimesque. Back outside to catch L'Ame Immortelle. Having missed the start of their set, I was surprised to see only Thomas singing on stage, then for the following song, Sonja sang and Thomas was nowhere to be seen. Thought that the two singers might have had a falling out but they were both present on stage for the rest of the set finishing on one my personal favourites "5 Jahre". This was followed by a return to the bagpipes as Saltatio Mortis took to the stage. Another enjoyable show, though they are not my favourite act of the genre.
Decided to go around the market whilst Blutengel were on. Have seen them twice before, and they represent the style over substance pretentiousness that I dislike about the goth scene. Or do they? Returned about 3 songs before the end of their set and they actually have a live band, furthermore a live band that actually sounded like they were playing their instruments. Maybe this is a step in the right direction for them. Then it was the turn of the first of the headliners Rob Zombie. I only have one of his albums and one by White Zombie but there were only a couple of songs I didn't recognise. Put on a good show, much better than enduring Marilyn Manson last year, and he didn't insult anyone either. The main headliner for the first night were ASP, a decent show but probably not the best time I've seen them. "Ich will brennen" always sounds great but I'm surprised they chose a slower song to finish their set. Back to the medieval village for mead and food where I was joined by Neil, Alan and Emma again, seated in exactly the same place as the prevoius night.
Got woke up by the heat at about 8.30. It was very hot, I imagine temperatures were in the mid 30s for the day. Still, we got to the festival ground early and found a decent seated position under a gazebo with an ok view of the stage which helped cool me down a bit. John and Laura were nearby and John looked like he suffering the heat worse than me. As far as bands are concerned Schwarzer Engel, Unzucht and Dope Stars Inc all played I was seated there. Of these Unzucht were the ones I liked the most but it was too hot to move forward from this shaded position. Got talking to a German man who was there with his wife and daughter, they seemed friendly.
Braved moving forward for Tanzwut who played a strong setlist including "Meer"and "Nein, nein" but unfortunately it was too hot to fully appreciate them. I decided to go to the Hangar to escape the heat for a bit and caught Tying Tiffany. Never heard them before but was pleasantly surprised, kind of an angrier version of Republica. They were followed by Assemblage 23 a band I didn't think I knew anything about but recognised a few of the songs from Slimelight many years ago. Then back outside for the rest of the day to catch Apoptygma Berzerk who were somewhat more uplifting, then Mono Inc whose highlights included all 4 members playing a drum solo and an extended version of "Voices of Doom" to finish their set.
Two bands were left for the festival, Einstuerzende Neubauten who put on a really interesting show of hitting things with metal and generating cool sound effects. What industrial music should be, I guess. The headliners were Nightwish who were probably my favourite band 10-12 years ago but who I have since lost interest in. It was a highly polished and professional performance, and Floor Jansen makes a great new vocalist but I should probably accept that most of my favourite songs by them such as "Wish I had an angel", "Wishmaster" and anything off "Century Child" are no longer part of the setlist. Was great to hear "Stargazers" though, shows they haven't completely abandoned the older material. However, the Richard Dawkins narration annoyed me. Ian kindly bought me some mead but unfortunately I lost track of him when he went to return the glass at the end of the set.
BAck to the Medieval village, joined yet again in the seating area by Neil, Alan and Emma (noticing a common theme). However this time more English people joined us and there were some Germans singing traditional folk songs nearby. They heard us speaking in English and asked to sing some traditional English songs and a sing-off began. We struggled to remember any words to traditional folk songs, but the Germans seems very happy to sing along with us to various Beatles songs, The Proclaimers "500 miles" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We are the champions". Probably the most fun I had at the festival, there may be video evidence of this somewhere! There was still time to finish my mead at the campsite where I had a good talk with Ian before getting to sleep at about 3am. Had to be up a few hours later.
Got up at about 6.45 to be told that the coach will be slightly later than planned. Still felt a bit drunk and was making basic errors dismantling and packing the tent. Slept really well on the journey back, the people who stayed in hotels seemed to have a lot more energy than me. We stopped at the chocolate factory in Belgium where the group photos were taken and chocolate bought. Ian kindly bought me an 11% Belgian beer. Got our ferry on time and it was nice being outside on the deck seeing the white cliffs of Dover as we approached England. Swapped drivers in Dover and everything was ok getting to drop people off in Harold Wood. However, just as we got onto the M25 disaster struck and the coach broke down leaving us on the hard shoulder. Recovery come and said we should be ok continuing our journey giving us some extra oil. However, the warning light came on again soon after so the coach had no choice but to exit the next junction. This happened to be the road that I normally drive down when I meet Emily's family so I knew a place to park and pointed the driver in that direction near two pubs. For Emily and me, this didn't work out too badly as Emily's Grandad kindly picked us up (he was waiting at Potters Bar and where we broke down was on the route back), but I felt sorry for everyone else. Glad to hear everyone got back eventually.
Still other than that final hiccup, which really wasn't anyone's fault, it was a great festival and everyone I spoke to is interested in going back next year. Thank you so much Ade as ever for organising everything
Tune in, turn on, burn out.
- M'era Luna 2015