It has now become an annual tradition, and a nice and lovely one indeed, to check in at Kreuzberg’s Passionskirche shortly before Christmas when Nils Landgren and his friends take the stage to celebrate the season.
Four Christmas albums have now been released, the latest came out this year and features exactly the same personnel as on the current tour which took the crew to Berlin yesterday where they sold out two shows. I attended the earlier one and once again, the friendly church was illuminated by candles only. The stage looked warm and festive and out comes the Christmas gang opening with a graceful, showstopping version of “The First Noel” followed by a decent “Christmas Song”, written by Mel Tormé.
One of the reasons why this concept works so effectively is the fact that you get three very different, yet very sympathetic and talented singers and that there are all kinds of combinations involved with the seven musicians on stage. There is the classically-trained Jeanette Köhn who sings the traditional “Maria Durch Ein Dornwald Ging” or the Händel composition “Tocher Zion” with perfect intonation. There is the crystal-clear and angelic voice of Jessica Pilnäs responsible for a strong version of Thad Jones‘ “A Child Is Born” or the Louis Armstrong classic “What A Wonderful World”. And there are the amazingly soulful pipes of Ida Sand who belts out a charismatic “Go Tell It On The Mountain” or the wonderful ballad “In The Bleak Midwinter”.
The ladies send chills down my spine when they sing together, like right after they came out on stage for “The First Noel” or later in the set for “O Du Seliga/O Du Fröhliche”. Bassist Eva Kruse and Nils Landgren play a furious duet on “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”. As an encore, we are treated with “Stille Nacht/Silent Night” in three languages and the final chorus is sung by the church audience alone. By now, Christmas has finally arrived.