Jubilaumskongress 2005, Austria
European Close-up Championships and European Stage Championships
Reviewed by Kevin Gallagher

European Close-up Championships

Freddie Rutz (Switzerland)
Freddie acted as compare and did a short spot between each act. He is no slouch however and recently won a major close-up prize in Berlin. Best of all were his tremendous language skills. He switched effortlessly between many European languages to keep everyone involved.

Hayashi (Germany)
Hayashi performed a mixture of his card and matrix acts. He performed a translation machine sequence which I couldn’t follow because it was all in German but got strong reaction. It has to be said Ryan was truly buzzing and it was the best I have seen him. I couldn’t have imagined another winner.

Antonio Romero (Spain)
Antonio is most famous for his hold-out system which makes for some very stunning magic and no-one can use it better than him. His most impressive set however is his closer which is a cups and ball type routine using three transparent tumblers and a cover. Some terrific and original magic.

Ferenc Galambos (Hungary)
Most of you will be familiar with this act by now. It has already won prizes at FISM and he won at both MacMillans and Blackpool. It is a beautiful street act performed to music including traditional cups and balls, ace assembly, diver’s pearls, coin matrix and linking cards. At home, Ferenc performs this act every single day and if there is a single thing he is not happy with, he does the whole act again… and boy does it show.

Julien Fombaron (France)
It was only after I saw Julien lecture later that I could truly appreciate his act. I though he was using something like a fitch-kohler hold out and system of pulls. In fact, the whole act was sleeving with techniques it would seem impossible to make 100%. This included a three coin, no gimmicks, no extras coins across which it would be almost impossible to improve upon.

Kevin Gallagher (UK)
I cannot of course comment on my own act or performance but it was the next development of my matrix / shells and pea act specifically geared for non-english speaking audiences. It is a ‘purely for magicians’ act which fortunately they got!

Herbert Fenz (Austria)
This act looks truly astounding. Herbert plays the part of a drunken waiter to music and there are some breath-taking sequences involving bottles and glasses of wine. It is not quite so amazing when you learn that it is in fact a two person act with someone who was concealed under the table from before the start of the competition (which is slightly disconcerting when they are at your feet!). A very nice act though.

The final placings were:
1st Hayashi (Germany)
2nd Ferenc Galambos (Hungary)
3rd Kevin Gallagher (UK)



European Stage Championships

In shows of this standard, long gone thankfully are comperes with Chinese sticks and six card repeats. Gaston, of ‘Die fertigen finger’ fame performed some first class magic in his inimitable style and did a great job in keeping the atmosphere alive – not that it needed it!

The Tramp (Switzerland)
This act used a theme seen in a few acts over the years, opening to a tramp asleep on a park bench. The magic happened from items such as flowers, newspapers, rats!, cigarettes, fruit that lay around the bench and waste-bin. The finale included a very effective light bulb levitation back to a lamp-post and a breathtaking costume change followed by an explosion of confetti and money which then showered down over him as he grabbed it and filled his pockets. The act should really have finished here as a ‘rags to riches’ but he strangely went back to sleep on the bench in his fine clothes in faded light to end in anti-climax. When I later spoke to him, he explained that this was to show that he was only rich in his dreams but this needed to be better communicated.

Karim (Spain)
Karim is very popular in Spain where he is in demand at every convention. It is a manipulation act using bottles, balls, thimbles, cards all beautifully executed with much flare and charisma.

Aaron Crow (Belgium)
Aaron is the reigning World Champion of mentalism. He has a fantastic character. I took this to be a Mongul warrior but speaking to him later, his greatest influence was the movie ‘Blade’ (which I haven’t seen) and it is in fact a futuristic martial-arts warrior complete with nunchakas and samurai sword. After a dramatic entrance, he goes through a blindfolding sequence which starts by him pouring wax from a large candle into his eyes. This is very effective but I don’t think it will be emulated by many! Once ‘blindfolded’, he moves around the stage seeking out three members of the audience previously positioned around the stage holding certain items. With pin-point accuracy, he stabs a small bag of sand held between the first spectators hands, moves to the second spectator and after a demonstration with a pair of nunchakas, uses them to (truly!) smash a wooden block held by them before moving to the final spectator, removing his samurai sword and breathtakingly slices a water melon in half on top of their head. Even if he wasn’t blindfolded, it seems to carry some true risk since the weapons are VERY real; I just hope he has good public liability!

Arsene Lupin (Poland)
Arsene Lupin will I am sure be known to many readers because he is a very well established top flight magician with a long list of FISM prizes. With enormous charm, he presented some extremely baffling magic including probably his most famous – the multiplying and inverting chairs. Fantastic magic but also a masterclass in presentation.

Florian Zimmer (Germany)
I was VERY excited to finally get to see Florian. He is Europe’s best hope in FISM manipulation against the current Far Eastern onslaught. I would describe Florian as ‘next generation Topas’. Some truly, truly amazing manipulation, very originally presented and ending with the producing a full sized BMX bike that he rides off. This act will gain many standing ovations.

Loki (UK)
Loki performed his excellent character act that I think most readers will be familiar with. It was an amazingly high standard show to have to hold your own in but Loki did so admirably. His act added great colour and was well received.

Marc & Alex (Germany)
This should more accurately be ‘Marc, Alex and their five amazingly attractive assistants’. They are current German champions of illusion and have a tremendous act with many state-of-the-art illusions. I will not spoil it by describing the end of the act for when you first see it but it is one of the most stunning pieces of illusion work I have seen.

The final placings were:
1st Florian Zimmer (Germany)
2nd Arsene Lupin (Poland)
3rd Karim (Spain)


© Kevin Gallagher, June 2005




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