Gig reports and other special events


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The Mars Volta @ Huxleys Neue Welt - Berlin(DE)




Posted: 2008-03-01 18:10:37

The Mars Volta © by Karen McBride

My first gig according to Mars Volta and a big disappointment.

Don't really know what was the big point for my feeling. The gig was sold out. Maybe 2-3000 people, some looking like Cedric (Cedric Bixler-Zavala - lyricist/vocalist) with afro hairstyle, most wearing dark clothes. Good feeling when I entered the place.

In the beginning I stood on the right side only some metres away from the power amplifier - so it should be the best sound. When they started to play (Roulette dares - one of my favorites) I already recognized that the sound in this venue is really bad. Everything sounded like a big messup. But I felt good.



Bernard Fowler's Bad Dogs @ Quasimodo - Berlin(DE)




Posted: 2008-01-28 21:47:44

Bernard Fowler's Bad Dogs (Tackhead & Little Axe)
© by Bernd Friemel or Ulrich Mücke

My first gig this year and already a highlight. Tackhead!!! Never have seen Doug Wimbish, Skip McDonald, Keith LeBlanc and Bernard Fowler together. Together as Tackhead. I know the music of Tackhead now for 20 years and have seen Doug, Skip and Keith more than 5 times and now together with Bernard. Although the gig was titled "Bernard Fowler's Bad Dog for me it was a Tackhead gig. The Quasimodo venue was a good deciscion of the organizer. I think the location was almost completely full.

I came there late and I hoped they didn't start already. But the woman at the door told me they will begin soonest at 10:30 pm. Enough time to get a beer and looking for a good position near the stage. I stood in front of the small stage between the mic of Bernard and the equipment of Doug. Keith came in and began a drum solo, the Quasimodo get filled and the other band actors came on stage. The first song was a Tackhead classic "Tell me the hurt" followed by songs from Bernard's new record (e.g Pop that thang). It rocked. After an hour they made a short break and came back with the absolute highlight for me: "Stealing", singing as loud as I could ("in the name of the Lord")- and also the audience got it that "Tackhead was in the area". They were also playing a song from Little Axe called "Grinning in your face" and another favorite of me "Trance" - a Doug Wimbish song. Also Skip and Doug were doing their soli. After two hours they left the stage but the audience applaused them back. Their last song I think was "Rock this house". Everyone felt happy after the gig was finished. I took another beer, talked for a short moment with Skip, Doug and Eddy - the organizer - who showed me a maybe 6'6'' man and introduced him as Mark Stewart who will play in Berlin two months later together with Skip, Keith and Doug known as Mark Stewart & The Maffia. I left the Quasimodo with a really good feeling late in the night :-)


John Butler Trio @ Columbia Halle - Berlin(DE)




Posted: 2007-09-27 02:03:55

(JBT Grand National 2007)

This concert is my second concert this year so far. I was very excited because I only know JBT by name from spearits at the forum.

Before I could go to the gig there was a parent-teacher conference of my daughter at school. It should stop at 8:30 pm so there should be enough time to go to the venue. At 9 pm it still went on so I left the school and drived with my bike to the Columbia Hall - only 1 km away. It was raining so I came there a little bit wet.

Anyway, they already started playing (I missed maybe one or two songs). I went to the right side of the stage - as I always do - and enjoyed the music and atmosphere of JBT. I recognized there were a lot of young people there - teenagers in my eyes and I also wondered that a lot of people know the lyrics of the songs. They played almost all songs from the new record Grand National, all of them had there solo more minutes and the highlight of the show was the song Peaches & Cream. John atarted solo with his guitar. After a minute Michael Barker entered the stage positioned behind his drums with two sticks in his hand and started to clap with them so the audience did the same. Within the next minute also Shannon Birchall came on stage and they played together this song until the refrain was repeated unplugged. "All I know is, all I know is, I love you and I love you ..." That was so wonderful. I never was within a audience - except Spearits in Netherlands/Belgium - who was singing that loud. They all enjoyed it. After threee songs within the ENCORE JBT finished short after 11 pm. I had a wonderful feeling after the gig and the next day I bought me "Grand National" at the iTunes store including an extra video of Peaches & Cream.


DEFUNKT @ Domicil - Dortmund(DE)




Posted: 2007-07-12 09:15:03

(Defunkt European Tour 2007)

Dortmund was the only location in Germany of the Defunkt European Tour "Defunkt in the 80s". First when I saw the tourdates I thought to make it for the Amsterdam gig because I always know that the Netherland's audience will be great. But I couldn't make it because it was on Sunday and family is more important. So I made a decision to go to the Dortmund gig.

Dortmund was the only location in Germany of the Defunkt European Tour "Defunkt in the 80s". First when I saw the tourdates I thought to make it for the Amsterdam gig because I always know that the Netherland's audience will be great. But I couldn't make it because it was on Sunday and family is more important. So I made a decision to go to the Dortmund gig.

After a normal working day I was driving 2 1/2 hours by train - first to Bochum, where I could sleep at a friend's room - and than to Dortmund. The location of the Domicil was near the railway station - so easy to find. I got my ticket I reserved two days before and went in. There was a bar room and the concert hall for maybe 500 people where it was not allowed to smoke. Fresh air - yeah.

I think they started at 9:30 pm and from the first moment I got the groove. The first minutes I was in the front line but you couldn't hear anythink from the master loudspeakers so I went back some meters and the sound was phantastic. It was interesting to see the artists after 15 years again and how they were getting older but I still could remember all of them. Can't remember all songs by name - there were also some new - but there were a lot from Thermo nuclear sweat and the Defunkt debut record Defunkt. Kim Clarke - the one and lonely funkiest female bass player in the world - had some problems with her electricity power from time to time but she took it with her kind of lovely humor.



A night in Berlin (Report from the day in Berlin) - DE




Posted: 2006-12-05 21:36:34

(Setlist of the Berlin gig)

Days before the gig started I tried to organize the three people I can take with me according to the guestlist. So in the end it was clear that my wife, Ville (one other friend of the FIN-connection) and Sven would be on the list. Sven also promised me to take a camera for photos and video with him so that I could tape the show. The nights before the gig I slept less because I tried to finish a playlist for two audio cds I wanted to give Versace and Michael. When I woke up the gig day I had headache and was absolutely tired - not to be keen to go work - so I stopped my working day at 3 pm and drove back to Berlin, making the covers for the cds and took my bike riding to Kalkscheune.

I was there at 6:30 pm and get in and the first who I saw was the man behind the big power amplifier - Versace. It was so nice to see him again after the summer trip in Brescia. I gave him the CDs and he looked very happy with this.

I went outside into the inner courtyard for some fresh air and saw someone staying at the gate, very disturbed, confused that he will not get tickets for the show. His name was Michael Lefkoff(?) from Haarlem/HOL and he said he knew the guys very long, was making pictures from the shows. He also was in NY for the show and also have seen that the two Amsterdam and Utrecht gigs are already sold out. So he was just scared he couldn't get tickets for the Kalkscheune gig after he is coming back from his hotel, having a shower, etc. I could calm him that the show is not sold out. But for help reasons we changed our mobile phone numbers.
Than Michael and Carla came in and I was very surprised to see Carla because she wrote me some weeks before that she wouldn't come to Berlin. Well we went up to the Backstage rooms where all the others were sitting on their computers (everyone with a mac). Carla showed me on her mac what she would like to change on the spearhead website and I liked the new style and changes to come. I gave her the other set of CDs.
I also talked with Carl about shows in Berlin and mentioned the saxophone intro at the Pfefferberg gig in 2001. He said that is very curious because I am the third person telling this today. Makes him thinking.
Got a phone call from my wife that Sven is once again ill. Last time in 2003 he also was ill when the Spearhead gig was. Today the same. Also curious. So Petra was now on the guestlist.
At 8:30 pm Antje and also Andreas were coming. Wonderful. So there are two more persons which get to know the live feeling of a Spearhead gig. 15 min later Tiina, Petra and Ville were also there, having some problems at the entrance with the camera but in the end it worked and everyone got their backstage pass.
The "Photo"-Michael from Haarlem got also his ticket but had the same problem at the security check with his camera. Anyway he got in and was very happy.
In the meantime DJ Boima was warming up the people with reggae music. Together with Andreas and Antje I was going in front of the stage (3rd or 4th row, more right side - I always stay on the right side, haha), good filled by lovely people. My wife and Petra were in the back - knowing that they are not that kind of jumpers :-). Ville also was somewhere in the back. After the whole Kalkscheune get really filled with people, DJ Boima was going to the mic holding some box in his hands from which he could make a sirence sound. The Sirence sound getting longer and longer and the Kalkscheune show in Berlin began.



Michael Franti & Spearhead @ Kalkscheune - Berlin(DE)




Posted: 2006-12-03 16:48:10

(Michael Franti and Spearhead@Kalkscheune)

The gig started at 09:15 pm. The band members were coming on the stage and began to play some kind of Intro for the first song "Time to go Home". Michael began to sing "Those who start wars ..." but he wasn't on stage. So in the first moment I thought it was playback(?). He was coming from the back, walking through the lines of people and was on stage after one minute. From the first moment the atmosphere in Kalkscheune was wonderful. A lot of people were singning and jumping all the time if Michael said to us "I want everyone seeing jumping" and we were jumping and waving our hands. Don't know when Antje was leaving the front area but Andreas and I had a lot of fun and enjoyed it where we were until the end.



Little Axe @ Postbahnhof - Berlin(DE)




Posted: 2006-11-02 02:13:45

Once again, Dough Wimbish, Keith Le Blanc and Skip McDonald as Little Axe with their distinctive sound


Part of my Dream Team: Special report from the Festival in Brescia - IT




Posted: 2006-08-27 23:59:11

(Radio Onda D'Urta Festival - Aug 24, 2006)

After I have seen the announced European tourdates in May it was clear that I couldn't make any gigs in Netherlands, Belgium or Germany because of my vacation in Finland. The only gigs which seemed to be possible would be one in the UK or Italy. UK or Ireland was to expensive so I looked for cheap flights to Italy and the Brescia-gig seemed to be this one. I ordered the tickets for the plane to Milano/Bergamo and the rest for the tour-travel I would manage in Italy. Problem for me was that my schedule was very strong because my son had his first schoolday (celebration and party) two days later so I had to leave very early the next morning after the gig.

One day before the gig we were coming back from the Finland vacation. There was a lot to prepare for the schoolday party. So I was going very early to bed because my flight the next day would be 6:20 am.

The gig day started at 4 am for me with coffee and some bread and I was leaving my home half'n hour later - taking the bus to the airboard not knowing if I would get the plane in time. Well, everything was ok, I could boarding and got the window place I had already reserved. Knowing that the flight was going directly over the Alps I was looking outside most of the time but it was very cloudy so there was not much to see. We arrived Bergamo at time - taking the bus to the railway station and arrived one hour later Brescia - raining all the time in the first hour. I was asking people where the festival should be located. Less people spoke English and knew where this should be but I found out that the festival area was more than 5 km outside of Brescia. How to go there?

After the rain stopped I was making a small sightseeing tour through Brescia. The old part of the city looked very impressive. Small streets, big churches and wonderful places to seat for a while. It became very hot in the meantime so I was taking of my strong shoes - wearing now sandales. It was not easy to find an Internet cafe where I could get some coffee and checking my mails, messageboard, myspace - but in the end there was some nice place in a very small street.

After one hour Internet cafe I was going to one of the main streets where busses are driving. I found out how to come near the festival place so I took the bus which I left after 5 stations somewhere in nowhere. Walking a long time until I was getting there at almost 3 pm. The festival place was in an Industry area not very comfortable. The gates on the side where I arrived were closed (get opened at 7 pm) so I first changed my clothes (short trousers) than I walked to the other side of the festival area and telling the people at the gate that I belong to Spearhead and they let me in (never thought it would be so easy).

Behind the tourbus was the backstage area where I walked in, going directly to the Service and dressing containers. The first Spearhead I saw was Dave. I said hello to him and we talked for a while (we never talked before and it was very nice to talk with him). Manas and Raleigh were also coming out the door and we were sitting together on the benches outside, enjoying the sun and talked about the gigs, travelling, etc. Then I saw for the first time Catherine and we hugged us the south european way. Was very cool. Michael was coming out the door and was also happy to see me but hadn't time to talk much because he had to manage something with Jason - the tourmanager. Versace comes from the stage and was very happy to see me. He got a T-Shirt from the rest of the crew - black with the title "Versace - simply the Best", or something like this. It was a really relaxing sunny afternoon there and I enjoyed the cool water, beer and eating from the service room. Some minutes later Carl also joined the group so the crew was complete. Here is a picture from the pre-soundcheck - Versace on the keyboard and one picture - Michael and Catherine at the trailer.

During the first soundcheck some of the Spearhead members were leaving the area, taking some ride to the Hotel where they took a shower and changing clothes and the others were staying at the place. Catherine tried to find a T-Shirt for me but XXL was to big and then she lost her way to find the right one.

In the meantime Mary, her husband and their little child arrived. She was from Italy and her husband from The Netherlands. They were close friends for a very long time and everyone was playing with the kid and we were talking about double language education, relationships and health.

In the late afternoon it started again raining very strong which the Spearhead members used to go for lunch at the hotel. I stayed at the festival ground to get some minutes to relax, writing some text messages (Juiceman), reading a book and explored the festival area with a lot of food tents after it stopped raining. The area get filled with people step by step. It was getting dark and Spearhead was coming back after 9 pm from lunch when the gig should start originally.

Half an hour before the gig started Carl was asking one of the organisators for some ice for his left knee which was packed into a big bandage. We were sitting together in the dressing room and he told me that he harmed his Meniscus at the Cologne gig and he was at a German doctor telling him he would need a surgery in the next days. Jason came across the way and informed everyone that they would start in 15 min. Everyone prepaired for the start at the stairs of the stage - Intro music was played and the Radio Onda D'Urta show - Brescia began.

After the show I was still talking with Versace at the mixer, a man from the audience came to me and said he bought the new CD without any CD inside, so I went back to dressing room and Catherine gave me a new one for him.

Manas left the backstage area and was looking for some other musicians who played in the tent next to us. It was strange Punk music I don't like and Manas also came back after 15 min. Dave and I were talking about the show and I asked him which of the european gigs so far was his favorite. His answer: "Definitely Lowlands - but it was too short. I like the gigs which are around 2 hours. Some festival gigs are absolutely too short. But 2 hours is ok".

Back in the service and dressing room I took some more coffee and prepared myself to leave in the next time. Michael was coming back sitting down and was showing his left foot (maybe some splinter) and asked for some medical help. Three minutes later three people from the ambulance were coming inside and provided him with desinfection and bandage. There was also a young couple from Brescia in the service room who offered me to take me back to town. They were making some pictures with Michael and were waiting for some other guy to leave. In the meantime I said everyone goodbye and thanked for this wonderful day. At the end Michael and Catherine said to me that they appreciate all what I do for them. Sniff.

Ok, I left the area with the couple from Brescia. We arrived the railway station 1/2 hour later and I had to wait more than 3 hours until I could take the first train to Bergamo. Now I had really bad headache, tried to sleep a little bit, walked around and I got the train. In Bergamo I took a taxi to the airport, checkin and some more minutes to wait. The weather in the morning was really good so I hoped to see all the big mountains of the Alps.
After we had started with the plane I was really impressed by this panorama view across the Alps this day. I could see Gran Paradiso and the Monte Rosa Massiv and some other of the big mountains. We didn't take the same route back but it was worth to watch out of the window all the time. Back in Berlin and normal life at 10 am. Well, well, well.

Already missing you. See you all again in December.


Michael Franti & Spearhead @ Radio Onda D'Urta Festival - Brescia(IT)




Posted: 2006-08-27 23:10:54

(Radio Onda D'Urta Festival - Aug 24, 2006)
- thanks Andrea

The gig started at 09:45 pm - so it was 45 min later than planned. The area before the stage was filled with a lot of people (maybe 1000 - at the end there were maybe 2000). They opened with "Time to go home" and "Yell Fire!" and the sound was excellent. During the whole gig I was changing my position from the backstage to the frontstage area. I was making pictures with my old slowly digi cam until it run down - here are Pics from the gig, providing Versace at the mixer with cigarettes and beer, helping Catherine to bring T-Shirts and CDs to the promo desk at the back of the mixer. It started raining again when they played "Sweet little lies" and Michael highlighted this with a lot of smile: "tell me that the rain won't fall today".



Little Axe @ Gruener Salon - Berlin(DE)




Posted: 2006-06-10 01:34:56

Well, I was very excited about this gig. See Doug, Skip and Keith after 1 & 1/2 year again. I was calling at the venue Gruener Salon of Volksbuehne Berlin and they told that the gig will start later because of the beginning of the world championship in football and that Bernard Fowler (singer of Tack>>Head - at the moment on tour with Rolling Stones) would also join the gig. Wow. The whole Tach>>Head crew. I was writing some comments at the myspace sites of Tack>>Head, Little Axe and Doug Wimbish about this wonderful news.



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