Concert Report: Fireabend 2022 with I-Fire & Friends in Hamburg, Germany
11/19/2022 by Gardy Stein
This is probably the first time ever that I write a review for a concert that I attended without the intention of writing a review. Why are those lines here, then, you may wonder? Because we like to inform you, dear readers, about Reggae greatness happening around the world – and it was a great evening indeed!
I-Fire, a local Hamburg Reggae- and Dancehall-band founded back in 2004, have made it their tradition to organize an annual "end-of-season"-event to thank their fans for their support and loyalty and, to be completely honest, to have some fun on stage before the winter break. Their Fireabend, as they dubbed the show, combines the German word "Feierabend" (not having a direct translation in English, it literally means 'celebration-evening' and describes the free time you have when you leave the office or finish the day's work) and their band name I-Fire, creating a warm, cozy, excited feeling right from the start. Part of this tradition is to also invite other artists to play with them, and this time it was Nellsen and Unlimited Culture who had this honor.
Nellsen, another Hamburg local who started out as Jahrôme until he changed his moniker in 2014, opened the evening around 8:30pm, his dynamic performance supported by longtime companion Jann Hansen aka TrackPacker on the mixing desk. Oscillating between singing and rapping, his clever lyrics, sometimes full of anger and sarcasm, sometimes sparkling with hope and humor, find easy acceptance with the audience, especially as the accompanying beats are a perfect fit.
People are still arriving at Gruenspan, the club where this concert takes place since 2015, when Nellsen finishes his set at 9pm. After a short changeover on stage, musically bridged by DJ Lars Vegas (formerly Kanga Roots Sound), the next guests are introduced: Unlimited Culture, who have come all the way from Regensburg to play their first ever gig in Hamburg – welcome Andreas Hagen (drums), Michael Kern (guitar & backing vocals), Philip Riesinger (keys & backing vocals), Maximilian Vasall (bass) and Lenny Souljah (guitar & lead vocals)! Having seen the band perform several times at the Reggae Jam Festival's official and unofficial stages, I am curious how their hand-made Reggae in deepest Southern dialect appeals to the audience here. While it takes some time for them to warm up (the first part of the group's set sports a few Marley-covers to speed up the process), the second half sees many cheering and dancing to this unique combination of dark-skinned Rastaman delivering songs like Fia Di, Ned Aloa, Da Sandwichmaker or, played as encore, Bayerman Style in authentic Bavarian idiom.
After an hour or so, they say their goodbyes to heartfelt applause, and the DJ takes over once more before, at 10:30pm, the main act is announced by event organizer Gino Naschke. With nine musicians, I-Fire just about fill the big stage, dressed all in white, and the light engineer orchestrates their entry dramatically. Kicking off their show with the powerful Der Bass Schiebt ('the bass pushes') for which they have just released a video, they touch a nerve with the crowd, who have obviously come to party. The ride goes on with tracks well-known to the fans, and most of the roundabout 500 people present sing along to Champions, Rudeboykings, Jamaica or Einfach So. Vibes! A special moment is when, lights dimmed, singer Fritz "Free" Kschowak starts, acapella, the song Ich Brauch Nicht Viel ('I don't need a lot'), joined by Marcus Hector, who plays its distinctive trumpet solo. Sweetness!
Other tracks of the band's ever growing repertoire keep up the movement, and it's always a joy to see singers Free, Nils "Dub-Ill-You" Wieczorek and Robert "Rawbird" Schlepper interact with both the crowd and their band… and the dancers entering stage at the end of the show, including Adamski, as always dressed for the occasion. A big forward is given by the crowd when Unlimited Culture join their hosts for a combination tune before the encores Highgrade and Dabadubade (another sing-along anthem) pick up the energies once more – grande finale!
Rawbird takes the time to thank everyone for coming out tonight and invites them to the aftershow-party that is held on the upper storey of the location, with music provided by DJ Lars Vegas and the TrackPacker. Many follow this invitation, and the evening thus comes to a groovy finish.
Thank you, I-Fire & friends, for another memorable night‼!