Adoration for the Guitar God

"Total Guitar": Martin C. Herberg at Haunschen Hof. From "Sabre Dance" to "Paint It Black".

[01.03.05] - A magical atmosphere reigned at the Haunschen Hof in Bad Salzungen. Sunken in dreams of a uniquely, unbelievably, intensely beautiful world of sound. Seduced and taken on a trip by a string-wizard par excellence: Martin C. Herberg.

Surrounded by guitars, quiet and easy, he sits on stage, carefully and gently singing a love song, with a voice reminiscent of Leonard Cohen: deep, melancholic and smoke-roughened, but also soft, magnetic and promising.

Then "Ireland Revisited", and Martin C. Herberg becomes a Celtic shaman who flies with his audience to the roots of "the green isle", over gentle, verdant hills and jagged cliffs; then back to the vaulted stone cellar with a temperamental foot tapping jig. The folk-theme continues, but in another direction, strumming, scrubbing, picking and drumming the Russian "Sabre Dance" into a mighty, elemental string dance.

Everything that this musician, with the conspicuous red baseball boots played was superb, some pieces, though, are branded on the memory. "Water", for example. A crystal spring bubbles bravely in sunshine and moonlight, grows to a stream, a boat-carrying river that longs for the sea. Sharing this longing, the listener becomes part of the flow until, at last, it glides into the waves, we hear the gulls crying and fall into the endless arms of the ocean.

Thirty years with his stage experience, Martin C. Herberg has many means of expression at his fingertips, from the simplest aids (lollysticks!) to modern technology (guitar synthesizer). "Leaving Los Angeles" rings with the cold, isolation and loneliness of the big city; an apparently simple harmonica blues becomes a wild boogie.

For most of the audience the highlight of the evening was probably "Paint It Black". Herberg’s cover rocks like the devil, is full of ideas, but always finds it’s way back to the well-known riff. An explosive, screaming, crazy celebration of guitar playing brings the audience to the feet of this guitar god.

Then, a description of the northern lights, gentle but quietly destructive new-age sounds, [...] full of heartbreaking, growing sadness. Warmth and security are not to be found and we plunge into the chasm of suffering. Black. Fatalistic, to crawl from the soul-springs clinging to a ghost of hope. This music brings stillness. It’s difficult to find a way back to the busy, gross here and now. Martin C. Herberg is already at the bar, quiet and easy, in conversation. A god of the guitar.

Annett Wöhler (ann) in Südthüringische Zeitung



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