Tour Diary - Germany Day 6

Day 6 - The Most Sinful Mile (05.11.15)
Like a flatliner with defibrillator paddles charged I bolted to life in the early afternoon of Thursday the fifth. Fully dressed with no idea how I’d reached my bed. The first sight I saw was Mason, hair like a hat-less Kyle Broflovski, head in hands, looking more lost than found. My final memory was being at the bar, hitting drink after drink and singing along to Copperhead Road. I asked the question that I always fear the answer to… “Did I do anything bad?”

Mason didn’t think so but he was not a reliable source. It turned out Damien had been the last man standing, an absolute shocker for us all. Mason had left the bar and dangerously stumbled down the strip alone to eventually be found back in the room, a pile of vomit marking his trail outside. Apparently I had laid a hand-towel on him to keep him warm upon my return. As I’d began to stumble about the bar at about 5am Damien had “carried” (note the double quotation marks as I’m still not convinced) me down the Reeperbahn and back to our room. After depositing me he realised he’d lost his wallet and phone, having to return to the bar and search but to no avail. He continuously grumbled about being mugged but it’s far more likely he just dropped them, I guess we’ll never know. Johnny and Kal dropped by to photograph us and laugh at our misfortune like any good friends do, the three of us swiftly returned to sleep.

It was past 4pm when we finally emerged. A day wasted in a grand city, but no regrets for the night before, what’s done is done and it seemed we’d caused no damage. Fucking free bars. The three zombies met with the spritely duo who had been out record shopping, talking up their day like we’d missed an early Christmas. I felt so bad I didn’t care, my heart beating in my head like there was a mini-Thor in there testing out his hammer. Johnny lead us to a little pizza place they had discovered where a stone-faced German woman made pizzas in a giant flaming oven. I bought three which earned a nod of respect. Two Euros a piece they seemed the perfect remedy, too tasty to describe. The guys headed back to Cowboy und Indianer whilst I took a shower to cleanse the sin. I rolled up to the venue at half-past six to a raucous round of piss-taking from Jordy, Tanja and the guys. The Long Man called me a pussy when I asked for water. I sent Kal out on the most important mission of his life “Find some paracetamol!”. When he returned I had never been more glad to see him, it may have been the first time I was glad to see him. I took a gram with my water (Pussy) and lay down by the bar.

Besides a little relief via the painkillers, we were due to start at 7:30pm(as opposed to 10ish the night before). Jordy had low expectations and, again, I was beyond caring due to my dehydrated brain. One thing he was adamant about was that we had to play for an hour, which we’d only done once on the previous leg of the tour in Munnekzjil. We’d discussed at length how in the UK we usually do 45 minutes to an hour, never any longer and the majority of the time even less (half-hour sets). This is due to the amount of bands booked on a night, or maybe the attention spans of audiences. I’ve always opted for the “leave them wanting more” mentality, but Jordy assured me that in Europe we needed to do an hour to an hour-half minimum. That is what the venues pay big money for – it's what's expected.

What happened next was rather miraculous. The Set began on time to an empty bar. Fine by me, getting through this my priority, the hour length my punishment. As we played I stared out of the entrance as by passers stopped and danced, gradually making their way inside. By the fourth or fifth song I felt like my head was going to explode and I informed the growing crowd. By the time we were reaching our heavy finale – Mainstream, Nothing Quite Like This, Jackals… the place was near full. I’d never experienced the joy of transforming an empty bar into a full one. Sure places had filled up as we’d played in the past, but this was legit – the sound of the Senton capturing the people as they passed and drawing them inside. The Long Man was very pleased. There was even a lad from Blackpool in, what are the chances of that – first Eindhoven now Hamburg – small world for the sea-siders. We finished to strong applause with only Jordy disappointed that we’d only managed to clear the 50-minute mark. I made my excuses and have to make clear, this was the toughest gig I’ve ever played. Ahead of the ones where I’d lost my voice or sprained my wrist/thumb/hand, this was harder. After every line the blood in my head simmered relieving the pressure, only to rebuild as I began to sing again, like a volcano threatening eruption. The guys commended me which I appreciated after the hours of ribbing. I’d love to say this is a lesson learned but I’m pretty sure I said that last time. Maybe it is time for the ‘Stick to the Beers’ tattoo.

We packed up, ignoring the free bar with easy resistance. As I took my bass from the side-room I noticed a stair-case leading down. Red velvet curtains at the bottom. My intrigue got the better of me and I crept on down. Behind the curtains was an empty club. Tight booths with video cameras set-up and smoke bellowing from nowhere. Mirrors across the back wall, my instant thought was that this might be some sort of 8mm ‘snuff’ room. When I asked the Long Man about it, he just pulled a strange face and didn’t respond. After all, this was the Reeperbahn, my dark imagination may not have been too farfetched.
We left the bar to avoid temptation, a free bar and I only managed a water (sorry dad – although I reckon we put away several hundred Euros worth the previous night). Damo, minus phone and wallet, retired on a bad one, so the four of us went for a stroll. It was nice and refreshing. We checked out the shops and ventured far. Turning up a side-street in search of food we passed the police station. On the opposite side of the road women stood a few meters apart outside each shop. They weren’t hollering at us – “You want pretty ladies? Sex show, beer, come inside, blah blah blah!” like the ones on the Reeperbahn, they were strangely silent. Next, their eyes were upon us. In my hangover naiveté I engaged eye contact and then they were literally upon us. “hey sexy, it’s free to talk, you’re beautiful, want to come inside for the most fun forty-five minutes of your life? What’s a matter, you don’t like sexy girls? You have a wife, so what, it’s Hamburg it’s the thing to do? You're English, you like the charlie, you must be the only one who doesn’t?”...

I’ll be honest it took me by surprise. I looked down the street and saw the silhouettes of Mason and Johnny, eyes straight ahead. I looked behind and saw Kalum ensnared, giant grin plastered across his face. Finally a woman was talking to him. I pleasantly declined, but it must have taken me ten minutes to reach the others. When they see you talking to one they must figure you are interested and see it as a green light in the red light. I had to laugh by the time I escaped.

We eventually stopped for food at an outdoor café, serving giant German frankfurters, bratwursts and various other local delicacies. We stood in the open air eating sausages while Kal went about trying to find a temporary home for his. We retired to the hotel lobby where we met Jordy who informed us the place had emptied after we’d played, a satisfying thought. Shortly after sitting through the wild tales of an animated Ollerton, we headed up for a sensible night’s sleep around midnight. With a long journey to the Netherlands in the morning this was, without doubt, the toughest day of my SB gigging life. Self-inflicted, with no sympathy from any quarter, I survived to tell this tale. Hopefully the last of its ilk.