Day 1 – Dublin To München… – Thu 1st May 2008
There’s not much of interest to write about today. I arrived. My friends looked after me… I had an afternoon nap. I’m either really old now or back in playschool…
Day 2 – The Atomic, München – Fri 2nd May 2008
I forgot my camera, which is a shame, because I would have liked to post some pictures of Chairmany (Germany, to the uninitiated). I had the, by now obligatory, giggle at a “Blumen Kunst” sign on the way to the gig at the Atomic in downtown München (Munich in Deutsch). Luckily I’m still equipped with my mobile phone camera – which is almost useless, but amusing nonetheless.
The atomic-themed venue where I supported BellX1 tonight, has a rep for EMO kids and is decorated with crazy paraphenalia … such as “Our friend the Atom” a book written in association with Walt Disney, and of course the seminal record “A-TOMIC TOM JONES” – by the Welsh permed one. The record sleeve is one to treasure. There’s a tasteful photo of a mushroom cloud behind Tom on the front cover. I’m not sure who that was marketed at. Anyway, Tom Jones aside, the venue is like something from “The Jetsons” or “I dream of Jeannie”. It’s all orange, red and black, the wonderful colours of the future as folks in the 60’s believed it would be. The effect is strange but quite cool. (Here are a few of their photos :http://www.atomic.de/20uhr58.html)
The venue’s in a really expensive neighbourhood, which is unusual. Normally we play in the red light districts, or university areas. To illustrate the affluence of this area, here’s their version of a dog basket…
The crowd were lovely and friendly and mainly German, which was surprising (I expected lots of Irish), but fantastic. It’s nice to play to new heads! I’m busy getting my head around some new songs and arrangements… and it’s working well. There were a few hairy moments, but no disasters. Great success! Unfortunately my pedals, bought for the event, were not functioning in the manner intended… lots of buzzing and nasty sounds. So I jettisonned them at the last minute, and played with a pure acoustic sound.
The lads had a very well-stocked merchandising stall, manned by Dave G while I was playing, and manned by me while the Bellies played. I should have done more research prior to the show, because the sizes of the shirts were not simple… Paul set me straight on the hoodies later that night : They come in two types “unisex” and “girls”. Hmmm. The teapots are one-size-fits-all.
A Spinal Tap esque moment is averted backstage when we realise that the ham and cheese slices are square, just like the rolls provided for us, so there’s no need for tantrums. A basil plant, not fresh basil, or dried basil, but an actual potted plant, is given to us as well. Amazing… We have an insane moment on the dancefloor after the show when Tim’s alter-ego, Neosupervital, is given a spin by the DJ.
Friends from Freiburg, where we recorded Wax & Seal, travel to the gig from Wien (Vienna) and Münster (the German one, not the Irish one!) – so that was fun. I end up in the University district talking rubbish until late and having the craic. Thanks for the couch!
Day 3 – München to Utting – Sat 3th May 2008
I parted ways with the Bellies after coffee and breakfast in the sunshine on the terrace of the rudest coffee shop chain in Munich. We have a bizarre stand-off with a waiter who steals a table from us. I thought that we were just unlucky with this dude, but no, this cafe has a reputation I’m told later. Eating breakfast in the sunshine is a rare treat for us pale Irish boys. The Bellies set off for Nürnberg and Aschaffenburg. It’s not as bad as their drive from Madrid. That was insane. Driving for 2 days without falling off the edge of the earth… They were remarkably sane considering their ordeal… Anyway, the guys are back on the Nada Surf tour for the weekend, and I’m meeting up with them again in Köln/Cologne for their next headliner.
Today I’m travelling to a little place outside Munich for a show. I’ve no idea what to expect. But that’s always fun. Well, not always. But I’m hopeful. I trust the organisers. They’re good people, and we like good people! I went shopping today. Nothing fancy, just the supermarket, which is always fun in a foreign country. Ever wonder what happened to Boris Becker when he stopped winning Wimbledon? He sells batteries now it seems…
Day 4 – München to Rosenheim – Sun 4th May 2008
The show in Utting was a nice experience. It’s a long weekend here in Germany, so it was hard to know what to expect. Most people are on holidays now. After the first set, I jettison the PA… The second set is much more enjoyable I think. More personal. If you can get away without a PA, sometimes it’s better to play like that. Mark N’ Simon really pulled out all the stops for me for this gig. So, thanks guys, if you’re reading this! Also, a big thank you to Sybille for giving me her living room for my stay in Munich, and for feeding my tea habit.
Mark N Simon are doing a show out in Rosenheim for Bavarian TV to advertise one of their upcoming gigs. It’s a small town, and I gather that it’s some kind of fair… a trade fair. It was rather bizarre. We loaded in all of the guy’s paraphenalia, while listening to a bonnie lass sing schlager songs. For the uninitiated, schlager music is the German equivalent of… I don’t know… Daniel O’Donnell perhaps? Lots of stuff about pretty fields and the green green grass of Muenchengladbach. I’m not a fan. There’s also a really weird dance routine featuring one of those step exerciser things (just like a late night tv ad), a fashion show featuring lederhosen and a stage invasion from a three year old… Just as I was losing faith in humanity itself, the presenter turns to me and says, “how can I look myself in the mirror tomorrow?”. I play two songs for the cameras, so if you’re based in Bavaria, perhaps you’ll spot me in between the dancers and the schlager singers.
DAY 5 – Part I – München to Köln – Mon 5th May 2008
So I’m sitting here in Munich airport in the sunshine with some apfelschorle. I try to drink loads before and during a flight to ward off the headaches and dehydration that comes with air conditioning, and poorly recycled air. They say that since smoking was banned on flights that the air quality has dropped dramatically on planes.
I checked in for my flight to Köln/Bonn (they share the airport), but needed some help with getting two bags on the flight, so I asked if the lady spoke English. She did but it wasn’t great so she told me to go to her colleague who has “some English”. It turned out that her colleague was from Greystones, Co Wicklow. So now Irish people have “some” English. Lovely.
So we chewed the fat and chatted about the tour, the gigs, how long she’d been here and how expensive things were… Actually, now that I think of it, I’m not even sure she asked me “THE QUESTIONS”. (Have you packed this bag yourself? Have you left your bags unattended at any time? Do you believe an interventionist God?) Instead it was a discussion about emigration and the price of houses back home. It was the most pleasant airport experience I’ve had in quite a while.
I’m off now to get frisked – probably by someone from Kilkenny or Ballymote. I don’t have any real connections to Köln so I’ve no idea, kein ahnung, what to expect. A friend is studying there, so I’m hoping she can shed some light on the city and its ways. All I know is that wew’re to drink small glasses of cold beer called Kölsch, quite like the glass of beer I sent to Dom Belly a few years ago. It has “Dom” on it. (It was hilarious only at the time – drink was involved.) But rather than being short for Dominic, it’s actually the German for a particular type of cathedral – one of which is Köln’s famous landmark – one of the only buildings left standing during the WWII air-raids.
Day 5 – Part II – Köln – Mon 5th May 2008
I spot Paul at the door of the Luxor, tonight’s venue, as I’m strolling down Luxemburger Strasse. This is a relief, because I looked for the Luxor on the map yesterday and Luxemburger Str, as the name suggests, seems to stretch to Luxembourg. It’s not a walk I fancy.
My friends arrived shortly and showed us around a little bit of Köln. The Luxor is in the University area so there are lots of little bars and clubs. Paul & Dave join us at a local café and confusion reigns as we try to figure out the local speciality : spaghetti with strawberries, creme and chocolate. It takes the lads a while to figure out that it’s ice-cream pushed through a spaghetti machine – and not a peculiar mix of savoury and sweet. Visibly deflated, Paul catches up on emails, and Dave goes to get himself sorted before soundcheck.
I go to see the Dom, and the Rhein which runs through the city, and the small part of the Altstadt (old-town) left. I break laws left, right and centre with my jaywalking which is an old habit – and something which is quite subversive over here. Tim told us that parents will give out to you if their children see you doing this. That’s fair enough. It’s just peculiar to see people waiting for the green man at 3 in the morning when the street is completely empty. I’ve been scowled at!
DAY 6 – Köln to Dublin – Tue 6th May 2008
I’m once again sitting in an airport catching up on my writing. Last night’s show was great. Everything flowed for me. The house sound and light technicians were “all over it like a rash”, as they say – which is always a huge help. The Köln crowd were very receptive and I’m looking forward to getting back there soon.
I sold all my albums and even had to buy back a cd in order to fulfil demand. A great problem to have. The merchandising stall did great trade, and I’m not surprised because the guys are on great form. They’re tired from all their travelling, but you wouldn’t know it to see them on stage. We had an unfortunate incident with a fainting girl after the show. We got a bit of a shock. I’ve never played at a show where that’s happened before. I’m not sure what the St John’s Ambulance fellas do, but we gave her water, coke (for sugar levels), and some brötchen (little bread rolls) with cheese and some class of cold meat (“I can’t believe it’s not spam”). She got home alright though, so our legal team is much relieved.
We retired to our hotel to unwind in the beer garden. It’s so lovely to be able to sit outside at 1 in the morning and not need three blankets and a headscarf. I’m really sad to be heading home now. I was just beginning to get into the swing of things. I really enjoyed the gigs. Hopefully I’ll get back soon. There’s so much left to see here.
Now I’d best sign off. Take care of yourselves. Tchüßle!