The Berlin Diaries – A Jolly Good Battering

The sun rose on Monday morning, and gentle rays of sunlight drifted in through the curtains. The old schoolteacher who lives upstairs was practising the piano again, and the notes floated down to me like snowflakes. I lay sprawled in bed fully clothed, hanging, desperately dehydrated and unable to move, but I was happy. The weekend had been a heavy one. Mike Skinner, Kater Blau, Slaves, all brilliant. There was but one last gig to attend.

I rallied myself after several hours of drifting in and out of consciousness, and made my daily breakfast of two poached eggs on two slices of toast, with plenty of salt and pepper. When I first made it, it went horribly wrong. The toast was burned and somehow cold and the egg was half raw with a solid centre. I do not understand how it is possible to fuck an egg up that much. Now, however, my egg poaching abilities have grown immensely. Nary a morning goes by that I don’t serve up poached perfection. I have learned. I am the Eggman. Goo goo g’joob.

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Feast your eyes on my eggy goodness.

Once I had finished delicately nurturing the various flashing red health and happiness bars of the living breathing Sim that is my Self; gradually tending them back into the green and slowly beginning to feel vaguely healthy, it was time to head out and give my liver a good kicking once more. Hooray!

I got the U Bahn to Victoria’s gaff, turning up at her door grinning and cradling clinking bottles in my arms. We listened to Jamie T on her tinny laptop while we drank a couple of beers. Her laptop is dreadful. Now, I am not a sexist man, and in almost all aspects of life I believe it is inaccurate and morally vacuous to stereotype. However, in my 23 years on this earth, I have never seen a girl’s laptop that isn’t absolutely riddled with viruses. I tried to navigate to Youtube to put a song on, but had to first contend with an internet browser that was reminiscent of a dying, thrashing, rabies-infested animal. This laptop is patient zero for Skynet, I’m sure of it.

The gig started at 7, but we left at about 8, as we wanted to save money on drinks there. We met Dave on the way, who told us he was picking his ticket up from a girl he had met on Tinder when he first moved to Berlin. They had a date, slept together, and he never messaged her again. God knows how he’d convinced her to sell him her spare ticket. Maybe she’s as skint as I am.

We reached the venue, Astra, which is behind Suicide Circus. It makes me feel queasy to even think about that place now, ugh. Dave and I had bought mini Jagermeister bottles after I told him of my genius idea at Slaves the night before. He asked how I was smuggling mine in, and I told him I was going to put it down my boxers. He asked me if I could put his down as well, and smuggle it in for him. I told him, er, probably not. Questionable hygiene aside, it’d look like I was wearing a gigantic codpiece. He shrugged and downed the whole thing.

With déjà vu from the previous evening, I walked slowly and carefully up to the ticket office and got my stamp, then, bandy legged, headed over to the entrance, achingly aware of the little bottle of booze crammed freezing cold against my genitals. Horrifyingly, the bouncers actually patted me down, however mercifully neglected to check my general dick zone. I walked on, chuckling to myself. Those useless, oafish gatekeepers! I am too smart for them. I am James Bond. I am Jason Bourne. I. Am. A spy.

I heaved the booze out of my boxers and took a swig of straight victory. Dave’s estranged Tinder lover met us outside later, and Victoria and I giggled our way through the sorry charade. With a face like a cat’s arse, she handed him his ticket. He said hello, and told her he was sorry for not calling her. She gave him the most bitchy ‘mhmm’ you have ever heard in response. It was a joy to behold. He then had to suffer the indignity of telling her he didn’t actually have any money on him, as he had forgotten to find a cashpoint. Dave was treated to another withering eye roll so intense it could have melted a bronze statue.

We slunk away, stifling our laughter. Once again, I found a dark crevice and slung my coat and jumper in it, saving dosh on the packed-out cloak room. Dave went out for a joint and invited me, but I declined. I didn’t want to miss the start of the gig, and I wanted to find the perfect spot for maximum impact. The crowd was fairly sparse at that point, and the support act had just finished.

We only saw one song by the support; some dreary, floaty number about ‘my generation’. It sounded like Roger Daltrey had been forced on stage immediately after being dumped by his high school sweetheart. Please, if you are going to sing a song with a refrain which features the words ‘my generation’, try and give it some oomph. I don’t want other age groups to look at my own and think we’re a bunch of limp wristed, teary eyed, spineless millennials, like the Daily Mail would have everyone believe. Get a bit of aggression in there. Each generation is supposed to be scared and confused by the music and attitude of the generation that comes after. If your grandparents can happily hand-jive along to your band’s debut album, you’re getting it wrong.

Victoria and I squeezed our way to the front, and kept ourselves entertained waiting for Dave by cheering the soundcheck guys at their killer bass-testing skills, a joke which is surely not funny at all to them but which amused me greatly. Finally, blackness fell and Jamie T strode on, denim jacket clad, black jeans, Vans, pink shirt, old army cap. He was grinning ear to ear, and the crowd was well up for it – considerably more so than at Slaves the previous night, despite their music being far more raucous.

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The opening song was a new one, Power Over Men. It’s a funky, slower track. We were a few rows back from where I wanted to be, though – right at the front and centre. Thankfully, the next track was one of my favourites, Tescoland. It was only the second song in the gig, but the roof came off the place. Everyone was ridiculously pumped up, and in a matter of minutes I went from calm and collected to aching and sweaty, after being hurled about and elbowed for the duration of the song. The great thing about mosh pits, however, is that if you manage to rebound yourself in the right direction, you can get to the front in seconds, which we did.

I didn’t know every song, but danced regardless. Dave turned up after the first couple of songs, arm around me, long hair up in a Harry Styles man bun, three buttons undone on his Hawaiian shirt. The middle of the gig saw the bassist’s amp break, and while a roadie was fixing it, the bassist was striding about looking vexed. Jamie laughed at him.

“You look a bit stressed mate. Don’t worry! I’m not stressed. These lot aren’t stressed. Are you having fun Berlin?”

Huge cheer. He turned back to his bandmate with a boyish grin. He had a great sense of the everyday, despite having been a star for nearing a decade. He could have been a busker at your local, all awkward chuckles and spontaneity and warmth. He filled the gap until the bass amp was fixed by playing a new acoustic number, one he told us he had just written and was still working on. We were the first to hear it, which makes me very happy.

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The next few songs were quieter numbers, Don’t You Find, Crossfire Love, and a few more. This was a relief, to be honest – down at the front it was pure chaos for 90% of the gig. Victoria is only short and was being knocked all over, but stayed put. There were three plastic looking girls at the very front, all platinum blonde hair and ironed clothing, and they were glaring at anyone that knocked them – which everyone absolutely ignored, to my delight. Fuck ‘em, you don’t get to the very front at a rock gig and frown at people for jumping around.

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Jamie brought it home with a quintuplet of rowdier hits, which damn near killed me. Sheila, If You Got The Money, 368, Rabbit Hole and Sticks ‘n’ Stones all saw the crowd going ballistic. The encore was Zombie, of course, and if you’ve not heard the song, after the 8 mellow intro bars, the drums kick in with the guitars and it’s a joyous, bouncing, drunken brawl of a song. It’s the kind of song that comes on in a bar and you frantically search for your mates so you can put your arms around each other and leap about spilling beer all over your shirts and earning disgusted glances from strangers.

Before the drums kicked in, however, Jamie left the last intro chord ringing, baiting the crowd into a giddy frenzy. The biggest circle I’ve ever seen at a gig opened in the crowd, wall to wall, and on stage Jamie was beaming. He winked at his bandmates.

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Silence.

Tension.

Oh god, this is going to be a riot.

CAUSE I’M A SAD SACK POST TEEN-

Bloody chaos. The next three minutes were a flurry of elbows and windmilling arms and low flying torsos and whipping locks of sweaty hair. It was dizzying levels of fun, and at the end of it I was soaked in booze and sweat, smiling ear to ear, dabbing my face in different sore areas to check if anything was bleeding. Victoria and Dave were scattered to the winds, lost in the sea of people. Jamie and his band took a bow and left to euphoric applause. Another amazing gig. I felt so lucky.

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We reunited outside, skipping the gargantuan cloakroom queues. We grabbed a bratwurst each, and headed home. I was buzzing so much I didn’t feel the cold all the way back to my flat, wandering back jacket in hand. If you get chance, go see him play. It’s a hell of a show.

Three of my favourite artists in five days.  I love Berlin so much.

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