12 images Bernd Begemann opened the long weekend celebration in the Merlin cultural center on Thursday evening. The photo gallery shows more pictures. Photo: Jan Georg Plavec

The Stuttgart cultural center Merlin is celebrating its 33th anniversary for a whole weekend. On Saturday evening, the most beautiful music audience in Stuttgart gathers for this occasion.

Stuttgart – The best thing about the long birthday weekend at the Stuttgart Merlin cultural center is its visitors. You notice that on Thursday evening when Bernd Begemann plays one encore after the other and people just don’t go home. Normally, as a concert organizer, one looks worriedly at the clock when the pointer approaches the 11 o’clock mark, keyword last S-Bahn.

At Begemann, the people collectively don’t care, and so the imposing songwriter from Bad Salzuflen sings another of his snappy songs with the even more imposing cheat sheet, before he sits down at the sales table like a boxer with a sweat around his neck and Plates signed.

But the Merlin also has the best crowd in Stuttgart on Saturday evening. That already applies to the 33-year anniversary gala, where the speeches are shorter than expected and Jacques Palminger is ordered from the hotel room directly to the Merlin to start earlier than planned. That the 440hz trio, with which he performs his spoken word jazz in front of a seated hall, is actually a quintet – a nice little joke of the very precisely playing combo. At Palminger, by the way, you think back to his last appearance on behalf of Merlin. On the stage he was not the grand master with a fine mustache, but the crazy-looking Bernd Wand from the Fraktus trio.

Audience praise, the third: It doesn’t happen too often that a standing audience of over 300 visitors is highly concentrated for two and a half hours at minimalist orchestrated concerts at the lower end of the volume scale. Sometimes the concerts in the Merlin also suffer from very talkative visitors, for example at the Klinke Festival – which can be explained by the fact that admission is free and these concerts always represent a kind of industry get-together. Anyway, on Saturday evening it only gets loud with applause – especially for Enno Bunger’s song "Where are the complaints??". He calls for people to stand up against the New Right and for democracy. 

Then Sea + Air take over the stage and the piano, first light a light and then play their songs with sparse instrumentation. This works in most cases, such as the summery light one "Should I Care" or, at the very end, with the classic for this approach and recorded here years ago "You are". It’s also nice that the Nurtingen duo are involved "We are Sea + Air from Europe" introduces. That and Enno Bunger’s song are, of course, only small gestures. But they are so important, and Merlin, who is historically associated with the Greens, suits them well that such artists are setting such signs right here. 

At the end of the mini festival, Gisbert zu Knyphausen will play on Saturday evening. At the Merlin they are proud to have discovered the baron from the Rheingau for Stuttgart. And not only the appearance with the Kid Kopphausen Band at the Pop Freaks Festival organized by Merlin last year can be seen as proof of the style confidence in the Merlin team. With his Omaha Records label, Knyphausen promotes songwriting beyond the campfire and rustling, and organizes his own festival on his winery that goes far beyond this in terms of style. 

It is of course also due to the direct, sensitive lecture by Knyphausen himself that the audience follows him to the last pluck. Somehow everyone agrees on this Saturday evening that the best way to celebrate the anniversary of a concert stage is to concentrate fully on the music. Could it always be like this, please??

Ultimately, the anniversary weekend, which also includes the organizationally quite challenging Friday evening with four Stuttgart bands, shows that the Merlin has made it, both itself and the concept "sociocultural center" update in a very successful way. The cultural center is constantly opening up new groups of visitors, including young ones. It is an important venue for alternative and, again and again, local pop music. And it does not forget its roots, as the well-mixed audience shows on Saturday evening. You can really celebrate that.

You can find out more about pop in the Stuttgart region atkopfhoerer.fm – also on Facebook.

12 pictures – Click through our photo gallery