The Longest Johns (21st April 2023, Cologne)

In 2018, four Bristol guys recorded an old New Zealand shanty, which was about 150 years old at that time. The song became a global hit. Unfortunately (for these guys…), three years later by a solo artist from Scotland called Nathan Evans. You guess it, the song is the good-old Wellerman (or: Soon May the Wellerman Come, which is the original full name). The Longest Johns were the first act which made the song popular – and on 21st April 2023, they stepped on stage in Cologne, supported by Cedar River. Here is my concert review.

This posting comes with 222 major size pictures as part of the concert gallery.


Helios 37 – About The Venue

The Helios37 almost feels like a residence to me. With I reported from numerous shows, including Lindsay Ell in August 2022 or Julian Taylor in February 2023. Especially the latter show had a very intimate touch, which I hoped to happen at the The Longest Johns’ concert again. Parking around the venue is indeed a challenge, but public transport connections are very nice. The venue itself is a typical club with two areas (just the main one used for this show, of course) and a capacity of roughly 250 people. 

The Longest Johns & Cedar River – About The Artists

The Longest Johns are an a cappella quartet from Bristol, who typically rather concentrate on folk songs. The current lineup is Andy Yates, Dave Robinson, Jonathan Darley and Robbie Sattin. In 2016, they stated to release music as albums. Apart from physical versions, you could download their debut Written in Salt from Bandcamp. Their second album, Between Wind and Water has been released in June 2018. The third track of the album is the Wellerman. More than a year later, in summer 2019, a TikTok version of their YouTube video to the song became more and more viral. Likely, this also caused Nathan Evans to distribute his version of the traditional song, which then became a hit in many countries and topped the singles charts in Austria, Belgium (Dutch zone), Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and more. The Longest Johns’ version just was a Top 40 song in the United Kingdom and Canada, though. The Bristol quartet is frequently releasing albums, though. Right before their tour, they shared their eighth one, The Longest Pony, recorded with El Pony Pisador.

Unfortunately, my bio information about Cedar River is very limited. The German solo artist is based in Hamburg. He also used to live in Cologne for quite a while, so that the Helios37 was some sort of home town show for him. The folk musician has been supporting The Longest Johns on the four German legs of their tour.


The Longest Johns – The Show

Due to another event in the Helios37, the shows already started at 19:00 – and Cedar River was right in time. He started with a song he just wrote for the tour and even slightly adopted for the Cologne concert. A key focus of his set was presenting his recently released EP Songs from the Attic, Vol. 1. However, there were also very intimate moments in these 35 minutes, for example, when the German talked about his former psychotherapy. Towards the end of the set, he played a bluegrass track, which made the audience rhythmically clap to his song. With the chucker-out Down by the Corner latest, he became friend with the Cologne crowd. They sang along with the supporting artist in the sold out venue – how could things have been better for Cedar River?


Great Music and a Lot of British Sense of Humor

The interval was less than twenty minutes, so that The Longest Johns started their set even earlier than I expected. The English quartet won my heart already when the stepped on stage with the Spongebob Squarepants theme. However, I was rather late with this kind of emotions. The vast majority of the Cologne crowd could sing-a-long to the over 20 songs, which overall lasted almost 90 minutes. Got No Beard, the third track, was somehow the song of the evening to me – you rarely spotted male visitors without hair in the face this evening. During the concert, the band excused that they so often mix serious and funny songs, but that was exactly what this evening turned into something special. There were folk songs with instruments as well as a cappella tracks.

The band told some really hilarious stories here and there – either about tracks like Nantucket, which was finally a result of some sort of crowdfunding (someone supported an album and thus got a song reflecting his family story) – some were simply funny in the lyrics. The four guys gave an enjoyable evening with a lot of typical British sense of humor. For example after singing Hammer and the Anvil, the band stated that people with epilepsy should have left five minutes ago – the hit of the hammer was illustrated with flashlight. Towards the end of the set, some classic shanties cheered up the crowd even more. I did not see a single person not singing with the guys to the class Drunken Sailor (the what shall we do… thing). And a few songs later, the people of course got the Wellerman as well – as the second last song before the ecnore.


The Longest Johns – The Gallery

Here are 222 major size pictures of the show. They are located in the concert gallery:


The Longest Johns – My View

The show was one of the best I saw at the Helios37. The crowd enjoyed Cedar River and loved The Longest Johns. I was quite impressed that so many people could sign-a-long to the songs of the British. I am sure that there were a couple of beers at the bar after the show – definitely a great fun time in Cologne.


Cologne Concerts

Here are all my concert reviews related to Cologne:


Hotel Reviews – Rail Station Hotels in Germany

Here are all my hotel reviews of places close to rail stations in Germany:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *