"Incredibly, we’re standing here at the castle with half the city listening", Xavier Naidoo shouts into the huge crowd of spectators. Tens of thousands of hands stretch into the evening sky. More than 13.000 visitors and many fence guests celebrated the band "Sohne Mannheims" on Friday the first part of their anniversary concert on the square in front of the baroque castle. Numerous hits of the many-headed band as well as special Mannheim surprise guests like the actor Uwe Ochsenknecht enthused the audience.
First rehearsals and concerts on a small scale
An expressive light show complemented the concert, which started at 8 p.m. to the minute. Many spectators came from the surrounding area, like Stefan and Mandy, who come from Burstadt. They have seen the sons "already 15 years ago in Berlin" and find the band "sensational. Marlen and Kevin are also happy about the music and show, they praise the "looseness" of the group.
The Sohne Mannheims celebrate their 20th anniversary this weekend with two sold-out open-air concerts. 20 years ago they were still rehearsing in a small party cellar, long since they fill stadiums and squares with spectators. Their most famous member Xavier Naidoo, who has been on his own since 2012, will also be taking part.
The sons have sold more than three million records, written several number one hits and won awards such as the Echo. When the eight founding members first met to rehearse in 1995, the beginnings were modest. The sons Mannheims appeared at first in the small frame, for example on Mannheim city festivals.
The band achieved a nationwide breakthrough in 2000
It wasn’t until five years after the band was founded that they achieved a nationwide breakthrough with their debut album "Zion". The single "Geh davon aus" ("Walk away from it") became the first hit of the sons. Until the successor "Noiz it took four years, and again single releases like "Und wenn ein Lied" (And if a song) stormed the charts and "Maybe the hit parades. 2008 followed with "The world has not seen that yet" the next big hit.
Xavier Naidoo and the other guys
The artistic director of the Mannheim Pop Academy, Udo Dahmen, considers the Sohne Mannheims to be the forerunners of a current that is increasingly dominating the music scene in the country: It is the trend toward German-language pop music. The strong interest in German language in the music is to be owed among other things to the sons Mannheims. They had been successful early on with German-language music and had sensitized and inspired listeners for German lyrics.
"Sohne Mannheims": 15 musicians of different ages
Since its founding in 1995, the band has repeatedly thrown itself together anew. Currently, 15 men make up the Sohne Mannheims. The age range is enormous: singer Dominic Sanz is currently the nestling with 23 years, guitarist Michael Koschorrek, known as Kosho, with 53 the oldest. Due to the constant changes in their line-up, the sons have always had fresh influences, says Dahmen, and find the band "sensational. They would have renewed themselves without giving up their musical roots. It is to their credit that the Pop Academy came to Mannheim – and without their work, the square city would probably not have the title "Unesco City of Music" get.
In recent years, it has been a little quieter around the sons, after frontman Naidoo and artistic director Michael Herberger took a break in 2012. Now both of them are back: They will be performing at the concerts on Friday and Saturday in Mannheim. Every son of Mannheim is present, also former ones like the singers Claus Eisenmann and Rolf Stahlhofen.
Incidentally, the bright idea for the band’s name came from Xavier Naidoo. They were all Sohne Mannheims, so you could call the band that, he said at the time. In November, the sons want to show that they still have it: Then the combo including Naidoo and Herberger will tour through six major German cities as well as to Vienna. In this line-up an exceptional case, as the spokeswoman of the band emphasizes.