on tour in Würselen (Aachen)

A very long drive from Senftenberg to the Burg Wilhelmstein arena in Würselen on the outskirts of Aachen on the Belgian border. We’ve played this place a few times (last time in 2009) … 

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… the crew is great, the catering is great, the audience is fantastic and it always rains.

So after soundcheck we hang out the somewhat cramped backstage, exposed to the inevitable …

Men watching football.

After the game we play to a great audience … and it rains.

on tour in Senftenberg

Our last summer weekend tour 2013. A short drive south of Berlin is the Lausitz with it’s landscape of newly flooded open pit mines … now Europe’s largest group of artificial lakes. We’ve played in the area quite a few times. This time we are invited to play the Senftenberg arena.

Backstage …

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… prior to a great show.

Thank you Senftenberg … you sure can sing!

watching people on stage

North of Berlin - in a romantic very rural and far away setting - lies the tiny village of Netzeband. Here actor and impressario Frank Matthus directs an open air mask theatre in a park landscape. This years production: The Tempest. Very impressive … the sun going down and the moon rising in sinc with a nice impression of the surrounding sea.

on tour in Thun (Switzerland) - day 2

Same view next morning.

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We go for a walk … it’s hazy, so this picture in our hotel hallway will have to do for a view of the alps.

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This of course is nonsense, because what one would see where it NOT hazy are Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.

I did mention the ferris wheel, didn’t I?

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Showtime.

We played the same stage last year, and just before we went on stage Kiki managed to drop her ring into the river running by our green room area. So Kiki is kind of married to Thun, or so she said during the concert anyway. “Ahhh” said the the man standing at the bar …

After show DAnda saw a ghost!

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Also after the show …

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… Beat shows us his yield. Beat, of course, is Beat Anliker the worlds only Beat, the guy who stages this festival, insisting on financing the whole affair solely with donations. He has a troop of people with butterfly nets walking through the audience during concerts …

on tour in Thun (Switzerland) - day 1

We drive all the way down to Thun by lake Thun und Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau to play under the ferris wheel … an awesome setting.

But first we pick up our sound wizard Conde and his daughter Daria in Munich.

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We did NOT pick them up here. This is where we had a short break.

On we go, past Lake Constance … 

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… through a tiny bit of Austria … our longest ride this year finally ends on a swiss balcony.

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watching people on stage

And now for something completely different … the Barber of Seville at Schloss Rheinsberg, to the north of Berlin.

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I grew up with opera. In a way. The truth is that when I was a kid my dad put me to bed with opera plots as bedtime stories … and him singing the arias. My dad the Queen of the night! I still think his versions were better than most. More heart anyway. The Barber never was my favourite opera. Way too much utterly pointless and musically very boring recitative. And the story’s crap.

Tonight it rained half way though … the best bit of the evening, although the orchestra did a great job, the singers were good. But they completely lacked my dads heart.

on tour in Ostrava (Czech Republic) - day 2

Today we play two concerts. The first on the market square of the Moravian town. Here our view from stage during sound-check.

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Now Ostrava is in fact a few towns, a few huge steel works, and a few coal mines all lumped together along the banks of the Ostravice river. Near to each other as the crow flies, they are a little confusing to traverse as the cat walks. Especially when one has no Czech.

Most festval visitors come from all over the Czech Republic and Poland. Few come from the town itself. Unemployment rates are high and as we are frequently told, the overall economic situation is not good and “people are depressed”. (end of quote) So the festival organizers are taking the festival into town as it were, by asking artists to perform an extra afternoon show on the old town marker square. We are honored to have been asked, so we play … and what shall I say people are enthusiastic!

The rest of the day we spend at the festival … 

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As I’ve said, it’s on the grounds of a huge defunct steel works in Vitkovice that is being (may I say) reforged into … hm … a new town? A leisure park? A museum? A bit of everything? What I like about the whole project (if I get it right) is that here they are actually NOT trying to create a museum for industrial architecture (say like they’ve done in the German Ruhr area, check the Zeche Zollverein in Essen for details) but are turning this area into a living part of downtown. They have less money, less planning security, but also less ivory tower. And what sounds to me like “more vision”.

Here’s an existing example of what they have in mind, Gong, a huge modern convention hall built into the old gas tank.

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And … there’s the festival with

The xx playing the second biggest stage (nice show):

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Balkan Beat Box on the big stage (nice show with our pal Uri Kinrot on guitar)

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And rocking concerts by the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir and Gangsagrass.

For more pics … check 17 Hippies website.

on tour in Ostrava (Czech Republic) - day 1

Two gigs coming up in Ostrava, industrial heart of the coal region in the north east of the Czech Republic, just south of Katowice in Poland. We’ve been invited to play the Colours of Ostrava festival, and to be honest we’re a wee bit nervous … what are we to expect? From what we see on the net, the festival is HUGE.

Our first gig is tomorrow early afternoon, and one of the things we’re a little nervous about is the conditions of the roads. So we set out a day early to make sure we’ll be there in time.

We arrive and work our way in … the festival is in, on and around an old steel works and amazing!

Here one of the ways in.

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It’a fantastic setting for anything … they’ve built 12 or more stages INTO the very structure of the area …image

It’s very inspiring just to walk around … but one can even climb into the structure …

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… and watch Wood Kid play the grand stage.

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It’s a big show. In every respect. Big sound, big screen with big video back drops, big band, and big bore.

Did I mention that the roads here are great.