Saturday, August 26, 2006

GERLING - no, not really

Massive Attack, DJ Shadow and TV on the Radio
Munich - Zenith - 22 August 2006

In Munich, I used hospitality club to find a place to stay. After spending one night at a hostel (where I hung out with the Irish girls), I ended up staying with Carol and Walt, a couple who is soon to depart on their own version of a world trip. Thankfully the hostel had supplied me with a shitty but free bike for getting around town. I met up with Carol and we returned to their house to dump my small bag and prepare for the evening of beer and karaoke at a local Irish pub named Günter Murphy’s, which is funny for a couple of reasons. 1) Murphy is my last name, and 2) Günter was the name Sally would use when booking a table at the German Club back in Adelaide.

The Karaoke went well, with me paying tribute to Peter Adams’ Mildy Mash effort, singing a super rock n roll version of AC/DC’s Shook me all night long. I’m not going to fuck around with modesty here, because I brought the house down and the crowd to their feet. Photos will soon follow. My singing efforts earned me some stripes and almost made up for me infecting my hosts computer with a virus on the following day when I plugged my USB stick (which I used at a net café earlier), requiring a reformat and reinstall of Windows. First time in about 7 years I’ve broken someone else’s computer like that, and had me frantically trying to find the “unfuck” button for a few hours in the hope of fixing it before my hosts returned home. I left the house to retrieve my big bag from the hostel with the rear break cable snapping as I pulled up to some lights. When I finally got to the hostel, I explained the defect to the person at the counter, pointing at the bike, and they just said “that’s not one of ours”. What is with Munich and free bicycles? The ride back to Carol and Walts with the added weight of my pack and nonexistent breaking power was certainly a hair-raising affair.

On the night of the concert, one of the people I had contacted through hospitality club had invited me around for tea and biscuits. When I got there, I realised I only knew the street number and not the apartment number. This was made even more difficult in only knowing their first name started with a “K”, but I took a punt and rang a bell on the top floor. They buzzed me in and I scanned the letter boxes for any clues, but got nothing. I ventured up the stairs a choose a door with a postcard on it, in the hope the people inside would know where this K person lived. It turned out to be their apartment, and after some awkward introductions, we sat down and had some tasty coffee, talking about music and life in Munich, sharing the yummy chocolate cookies I brought.

After leaving, I jumped on the U-Bahn, headed for the gig. The venue is located next to Munich’s Fleamarket, where I purchased various bits and pieces for Frankenbike, so finding my way there was no problem. When I was in Munich about 2 months ago, I remember getting excited at seeing the posters for the upcoming Massive Attack tour, but conceded that I would probably not get to see them. Oh how things change. I read about the gig in a magazine while I was in Salzburg, and on seeing the support acts promptly sorted out an online ticket, not caring for the surrounding logistics of getting there, accommodation or getting back to Vienna.

TV on the Radio

A tight schedule and bad sound didn’t affect their energy or ability to explore their music, even if it was limited. I would much prefer to see these guys at a gig where they are the headliners, and the sound system is tuned for their sound. Disappointingly, they didn’t play Ambulance or Staring at the Sun, which are my two favourites from their album, but it meant they could play different versions of the other songs and play a couple of songs I’ve haven’t heard. They give the impression that given a better suited venue and more time, that they could really fire up that prog-rock exploration and get more into their music.

DJ Shadow

I was a little disappointed by his set, which suspiciously seemed to be coming straight from his laptop (a brand spanking black MacBook for you nerd trainspotters out there). He pressed a few buttons, and mixed (badly), a couple of beats from a few records. As for his new stuff, the metalbaby says it best: wtf? You need to get your head around that it is DJ shadow and not just some no name rapper from the states, but you know, if a musician takes their work in other directions, the faithful will always follow. It worked for Radiohead, but not for the Prodigy. How it will turn out for Mr Shadow remins to be seen. He brought out an English geezer to sing a couple of tunes from the album due next month, and that was quite pleasant. But overall I wasn’t impressed. Again, I think he suffered a bit from being in the shadow (ha!), of massive attack, and therefore didn’t pull out all the stops. The visuals where impressive, but nothing like what his shows are like when he headlines.

Massive Attack

Wow. What an act. Certainly making the leap from electronic music to live performance successfully. I saw them a couple of years ago on the 100th window tour in Adelaide, and it still is one of my favourite gigs I’ve ever been to, up there with the untouchable Tool. I remember being really impressed with the sound of the Adelaide entertainment centre and the visuals brought by the band. The Munich performance suffered a bit from the venue, but still, from my front row position I was able to get the full force of their music and the show. It appears the band has disassembled the big LED television used on the last tour and rebuilt it with large separations between each row of lights. No samplers or drum machines to be seen anywhere. All live. All real. Two drum kits, with a bass guitarist, two normal guitars, a keyboard player, 4 microphones and a simple turntable setup. They played all the classics plus some new stuff. Angel, which is in my top 10 songs of all time, did my head in. I wore earplugs, but was tempted to take them out just for the experience and to show the band I am willing to sacrifice some of my long-term hearing for their music. The set went for 2 hours and after a quick applause filled break, they returned for a three-song encore, which concluded with a 15-minute version of Safe From Harm. Nice one. One of the cool things about the venue, was the return path to the change rooms was suspended above the exits, meaning as the crowd dispersed, they were able to give the band a rousing round of applause from below. I hear one of the guys from TV on the Radio is producing the new album, so that promises to be interesting.

Totally worth the money and headfuck of getting to Munich, which was an adventure in itself. A real bummer I wasn’t able to get a photo pass, but considering the short notice I had, I was lucky to have made it to the gig.

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