Kraftwerk : Is this going to be the reunion of the year or not? This eastern German band that more or less set the first standards for electronic music spawning such greats as Depeche Mode and Yellow Magic Orchestra along the way. I have to think back when Dave J. just gave me his copy of The Man Machine that he had picked up somewhere that had simply offended him too much. 25 years later, I will finally get a chance to see these antiques when they play a double show late in March (one show at 7:30, the second at midnight!). Although, unlike Dave, I did not hate thier brand of music, it was not really my favorite either. But, hey, if I go out of my way to see the Stones, Kraftwerk can't be such a bad show .. and cheaper too.
De/Vision : On the backlash from their 2003 tour, they added a couple of last minute dates to revisit thier favorite places. Since the boys live in Berlin now, it had to be a plus for the travel budget. I missed their last tour because they played here on Easter, and we were out of town. The opening act Iris, I can only say are from stateside and while this duo was really pleasant, they were simply not on the same level of showmanship as De/Vision. They did some of thier (and our) favorites such as Bleed Me White, Try to Forget and the one the audience is always ready to sing with no help from the band, Your Hands on my Skin. In one of the two encores, they did Blue Moon, another all-time favorite.
Die Happy : That little band from Ulm was back in Berlin and they are still really solid, from the same vein as Repuplica, Pink and No Doubt. In support of their latest CD, they did a great mix of the new songs along with the faves of their dedicated fans from the previous 2 releases. Marta was really hyped and the band seemed to have really tightened up since I saw them on thier last tour. Bands like Die Happy and the above De/Vision will be sorely missed when we finally decide to leave Germany. I know they make occasional tours stateside, but you have to keep your eyes open to the small clubs in big cities or you will miss them.
Killing Joke : They came ... they played ... they kicked ass!! The mighty Joke graced Berlin with the start of their reunion tour supporting their new self-titled CD. Just returning from Iceland the day before, I had already taken this entire day off with the intention of weeseling my way backstage. Using a vague story of meeting Paul Raven, Sex Clark 5 and actually seeing and saying hello to Geordie, I did it. I sat on couch with Geordie, chatting with him about his life (married and living in Detoit of all places) and got a few words with lead singer Jaz. Maybe when we were backstage all those years at Masquerade I did not know what to say, but this time I was ready and had a blast. Oh, and the show was typical awesome KJ. Jaz is still the angriest man on stage, and the rest of the music was really tight. Just to add a quick note about the opening band --- who the hell were they!? A 4-piece band with an oriental girl hitting hard and loud (and occasionally getting hits from a nearby Oxygen bottle?) got through their show without really introduving themselves. Interesting.
Yes : Yes has been back on the road since late last year once again with Rick Wakeman at the ivory keys. As far as I know, despite the tour changed to Reunion Tour, the current European show is identical to the US show last year. I can't picture this, but apparently those who made it to the Chastain Park show in Atlanta had a great time. I don't want to even think about actually having to sit for a concert.
At the Berlin show, I got a chance to catch all of the members on their exit from the Tempodrom concert hall. Besides the autographs of all 5, Rick was especially nice and really seemed to enjoy the fan attention. Alan White seemed completely trashed, but it seemed to effect his walking skills more than his hospitaliy.
Wolfsheim : Finally saw the synth-duet after 3 date changes and 1 venue change. Touring for their latest release, they were a bit stiff onstage. The stage was really well built with two huge propellors, as well as a few other cool props. I can't remember more of a sedate audience, but it gave the experience an interestingly sterile feel.
Guano Apes : This German band is currently making their rounds supporting thier newest Walking on a Thin Line. This band just keeps getting better and better. Although their fans were a bit on the younger average side, and a wee bit too violently inclined, they were really great to see live. Sandra seemed a bit odd with her street-urchen clothing and black leather gloves - presumably a fear of what she might touch. I did at least get a broken drumstick from the show, so did not leave empty handed.
Alice Cooper : Starting his world tour for the release Dragontown Alice naturally chooses to do his entire tour exactly corresponding to our celebration of Thanksgiving down in Orlando. I would feel really bad if I had not gotten the chance to see his last tour twice. Check out his website on my links page, and try to see him. He really puts on quite a show, so just do it.
Nena : The queen of the 99 Balloons is currently on her second wave of popularity in Europe. I caught her act here in Berlin and was far from disappointed. The opening act was a sad but short accoustic local. With her band line-up totally new, Nena was the focus of her band. She played lots of her old favorites from her older albums as well as a few of the newer songs. I am not a fan of the newer stuff, but this lady sure had energy bouncing around the stage. It was amazing at the wide variety of ages packed into the arena, but just goes to show how many generations she has been able to reach with her music. One sad note was the news that one of her original members and co-writers, Carlo Karges, recently died. And the big question was whether the show would ever end. Although the crowd yelled on, the second encore seemed to have not been expected form the stagehands. Suddenly, Nena started singing again from some remote location, benefitting from her cordless mic. I don't have any idea if she is planning any stateside extentions of the tour, but it is not likely at this point due to costs. As far as even the dedicated new wavers were concerned, she only had two releases cross the ocean (the only ones translated in English).
The Mission and Kirk Brandon : Now this is how concerts are supposed to be for those who go to as many as I have. Waiting for the doors to open, they stuck up a poster for Kirk Brandon as the opening act. "Kirk who?" you and the folks around me were asking .. Kirk heads the band Spear of Destiny and I would have easily been standing out in the cold to get in to see them headlining the show, but even an acoustic solo of Kirk was a huge treat. Since I seemed to be the only one that knew his songs, I got some attention from him. The Mission slammed onto the stage with the latest single Evangelina and it only got better after that. They played a much longer set (with two encores) than in the HIM concert last year. An awesome show just kept getting better .. the final song Deliverance .. (1) Wayne Hussey gave me his guitar pic by letting me take it from between his teeth, (2) I then got a chance shake his hand twice before he left the stage, (3) he held the mic out for me so I could sing part of the choras and (4) I was able to shadow 4 groupies getting let backstage!! What made them mad was that I was the only one that had the nerve to just go down to the changing rooms and was the only one to get Wayne's autograph, and got to trade a few words with all 4 members of the band. But what really turned out to be a treat was talking with Kirk. Being a big fan of Spear of Destiny for years, it was really fun talking to him about some of his later releases, his website (currently under a big facelift) and just talking about England. I really wish I could get over to Britain to see his band while he would actually remember me, but guess I will just have to count on being difficult to forget and will try to get over there next year and include a show in the vacation.
I am currently looking for information on the history or whereabouts
of the following groups:
The Millions, Play Dead, Primitives and Fem2Fem.