I don't know too much about the German pop-culture, especially the local star culture, but I want to improve from time to time. When my friend invited me to join her in the public for Helene Fischer Show, I couldn't refuse such a temptation.
Born in Siberia but living in Germany since childhood, Helene Fischer can be considered an example of the 'German dream', she is speaking fluent German and, even though very young, is one of the most loved stars of the moment. Her show, an amazing mise-en-scene by Frank Hof, whose 'Happy birthday' was sung by 5,000 people, consists in various musical moments intercalated with acrobatics and dance. The two representations, yesterday and the day before, will be made out a special ZDF TV program that will be aired on ZDF in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The show was held at Velodrom, an ugly building but huge enough to be considered the second largest concern venue in Berlin, after O2 Arena. It looks like an ungly unfinished business, and has a swimming pool that was built when Berlin submitted its unsuccessful candidacy for the 2000 Summer Olympics.
I arrived relatively early, 45 minutes before the start, crawling through the vendors of tickets close to the S-Bahn, and the many Helene Fischer fans waiting in line for a beer, a wurst or some Haribos. The smell of burning oil become more and more strong during the show, as I was in the middle of a huge fast-food kitchen. But as the show started, I tried to be focused watching what is going on the stage and only the long talking breaks of the entertainer Aliosha reminded me about the smell. As the stage needs to change massively from a musical moment to another, the entertainment lasted usually at least 10 minutes. Hopefully, such long discussions and clapping hands moments will not be seen on TV, where the show will last maximum 3 hours, with some advertising intercalated probably.
Let's the show begin with a Tarzan moment, part of another very popular show from Stuttgart, followed by songs from Helene repertoire and her guests. The atmosphere is getting hot, people are singing and dancing too. Despite the age differences and maybe of the social status too, everyone is united in the memory of the songs. Of course, I have no idea what they are singing about, but I am watching. Hands in the air, smart phones are working and pictures are taken. From time to time, reactions typical to the big soccer games can be hear, but everyone seems to love Helene and many are showing it.
The show continues with a cute Ice Age moment, continued by some songs of the local troubadour Otto, the successful Swiss Beatrice Egli who won 'Deutschland sucht Superstar' and another Swiss, the very talented 9-year old Chelsea Fontanel. My favourite moment is starting: Momix Botanica, the contemporary dance show from America, with flying halves of flowers getting united in the rhythm of the music. The bodies are tensed recreating the natural energies exploding suddenly or simply stopping for reasons that the humans don't understand.
Back to the singing mood and Max Raabe is on the stage. He is a popular singer, not only in Germany, but also in the Middle East and China, with a very serious ironic posture, that seems he made a time travel from the Berlin in the 1920s. The 4999 spectators are singing together with him, 'You cannot kiss alone'. I almost forgot how late it is, I may notice only that after a certain hour - 23.30, people are starting to leave. I am trying to keep the eyes open and watch the next moments: a musical story of an iron horse, an episode of a musical show that will be played at 'our Broadway', Theater des Westens, the Iron Horse and Sunrise Avenue, a youngster band popular here who will be on tour at the beginning of the next year. Most classical moments are interpreted by the Babelsberg Film Orchestra. Another admired German star, now over 70, is singing: Peter Kraus, the first German rock'n'roller.
Helene is not only a singer, but also a great dancer - she is also interpreting some moments from Dirty Dancing - and an acrobat. She did acting too at the beginning of her career.
The last two moments almost woke me up completely. Not only because the entertainer Aliosha is trying to match a young lady from a fan club of Helene Fischer in Brandenburg with a young guy who was brought on stage because he rose his hand high enough to be invited to flirt with her. But because on the stage the Red Army Choir appears, accompanying Vincent Niclo, a tenor who sung together with Céline Dion. One can imagine the grotesque of the over 20 men dressed in uniforms of the Red Army, some with decorations, and with extremely serious poker faces singing on a stage after 12 o'clock, in the 21st century in the unified Berlin. Till I do the time checking and realize where I am, the last moment of the show, another classical tenor moment of Il Divo, already ended and Helene is thanking the tired but still energized public.
At around 1.20 in the morning, I am almost done with my exploration of the pop-culture. I join again my friend and we drive together in the empty cold city. I should be thankful that in such a short time, I got a perspective of over 5 decades of German pop culture. Watching such a massive show once in a while, can be an interesting experience, especially for a curious expat.