We live in dark times.
Virus and social distancing and quarantines and isolation. Restaurants and pubs and movie theaters closed. Live, in-person concerts? A thing of the past, for now. Entertainment options are increasingly limited.
Which is part of my plug for online performances. Yeah, it’s not quite the same thing. But to see and hear groups play live, even in the virtual setting, is something I and many others have learned to prize. The other side of the coin: the musicians are starved to perform as well (and to get some income), and their energy and enthusiasm is compelling.
Last May 30, Melanie Mau and Martin Schnella went online to share their music. I was there, virtually speaking, and it was a great time. The bulk of the material was covers (their specialty) with a touch of their Prog outfit Flaming Row. And now, the pair are sharing one of the best moments of that gig: Transatlantic’s “We All Need Some Light.” The song choice is no surprise; Mau and Schnella love Neal Morse and have covered many of his songs in the past.
This is a standout.
Schnella is a consummate acoustic guitarist, deft and emotional, and that provides the underpinnings of the performance. Mau continues to astonish with tones and inflections reminiscent of the late, great Sandy Denney of Fairport Convention. Increasingly—at least of late—vocalist Mathias Ruck and percussionist Simon Schroder have been integral to the sound, and they certainly are here. Ruck trades leads with Melanie and Martin to great effect. And Schroder’s stick work is subtle, creative and impressive (even though he first enters at about 4:30 into a 5:30 song).
The vocals are what leap out at you. Mau, Schnella and Ruck seamlessly blend together, with harmonies that give the tune a folk twist. Frankly, this interpretation is just wonderful—and I say that as someone who loves the original.
But the end sends shivers down the spine. The instruments cease and the three singers go a capella to wrap things up. I really can’t describe it; you need to see and hear this to believe it.
As for the video: well, it was a living room concert with one camera which could only take in part of the setup. For the most part, percussionist Schroder was out of frame. And when the picture shifted to include him, Mau and Schnella were cut out. Amateur hour? Yeah, but so what? Many of these virtual concerts are done on the cheap, so you make do and enjoy it as is.
This show in particular had a great feel to it—in part because the audience was contributing running commentary in a side panel. And it gave folks a chance to toss some money the artists’ way as well. All in all, it was a lot of fun and accomplished a great deal. And it’s probably the way of the present and foreseeable future.
So, my analysis of this video? Watch it. Over and over again. Close your eyes and let the sound enfold you.
And as for virtual concerts? I’ll fall back on a line from the movie The Wild Bunch: “It ain’t the way it used to be. But it’ll do.”
Released by: Melanie Mau & Martin Schnella
Release Date: October 21st, 2020
- Melanie Mau/vocals
- Martin Schnella/guitar, vocals
- Mathias Ruck/vocals
- Simon Schroder/percussion