30.05.2018 – Hafenklang, Hamburg DE

Three countries, two continents and all for one band; 2018 has been quite a year so far and this has been a rather hectic week.

I really wanted to catch more of Screaming Females’ current visit and had been trying so hard to work out where and how I could take in more shows. I was having to work around other events that had already been arranged before the tour was announced and there was the obligation to show up for work at some point, so things weren’t straight forward. I had almost got a trip to Amsterdam figured out but scrapped the idea when the band announced their return to the UK in September. So it’s just the three shows for me on this visit to Europe but from my limited experience of Screaming Females they are currently in top notch form and each show has been an unmissable experience.

Reading Kristina’s posts I see that she met Charlie Harper of UK Subs at the Oslo show. Was that the bloke with green hair who was wearing a Screamales shirt? Knew I’d seen him somewhere before! Shame we couldn’t get him on stage for a rendition of Stranglehold. I also see that Jarrett’s been for a swim and I wonder if he fancies a dip at the UK’s highest beach later in the year? It can be arranged.

When the band returns to London in September there are some interesting photo opportunities to be had should they have time. Along the north side of St Paul’s Cathedral (you’ve all seen it, it’s the one with the dome) runs Paternoster Row, where you’ll also find Paternoster House and Paternoster Square. Much more interesting is The Paternoster pub, to be found on one of the alleys running north from the cathedral. Surely there’s a tee shirt in there, somewhere….

After returning to work for a couple of shifts over the weekend I was back in Manchester on Monday to see Echo And The Bunnymen, a band I’ve loved since my youth. They are currently touring to promote their new album which is due out in October. That may seem odd timing, but the release has been delayed. They are back touring the USA later this Summer with Violent Femmes.

Tuesday allowed me to return home, albeit briefly, to swap bags before walking back to the train station to head to Leeds. The Breeders were playing and I’d been looking forward to this show since seeing them in Manchester in October last year. Another tremendous gig, I enjoy how Kelley always has a smile, Kim seems to be on the verge of a collapse in to fits of laughter and Jo’s dry wit.

Wednesday began early, far too early, in a Leeds hotel. I took some solace from the knowledge that I could nap on the train to Manchester airport but that still doesn’t compensate for a 5am alarm. Then once at the airport there’s a question that has bugged me for years: is it too late or too early for a beer? The conclusion I came to some months ago was that if The Beastie Boys were prepared to fight for our right to party then there’s nothing wrong with me taking up arms 24×7. So I headed to the bar.

I’ve been to Germany many times in the past but this is my first trip to Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city. The flight is only 80 minutes and the transfer into the city is typical Germany efficiency. I wish I could say the same about the rest of journey with a four hour delay in departure from Manchester Airport. I was on the cusp of not travelling if there was further delay as I’d miss the show but fortunately we were on German soil by 7pm local time and a tweet from the band told me they were on stage at 10. My hotel was right by the Hauptbahnhof  but stepping in to the street was a shock to the system as the sun was blazing down with temperatures reaching 30C during the day. A hasty check in and a wonderfully air conditioned cab to the venue followed.

I found the tour party gathered in a small area at the back of the room where the merch stall was set up. Within seconds of entering the room I realised that I was going nowhere near the stage that night. The venue was like a sauna and conditions must have been very uncomfortable on stage. Nevertheless Screaming Females delivered another scorching set; opening with Ripe backed up later by great renditions of Agnes Martin, It All Means Nothing and both parts of Chamber back to back; then going on to play several tracks I hadn’t heard at my previous gigs. Broken Neck, Normal, Rotten Apple, I Don’t Mind It and Extinction were all given an airing as I spent the show by the merch with Kristina. At least we could breathe and although they had sold out of tee shirts and pins earlier in the tour so it was cds and vinyl only, there was still a steady stream of sales.

This trip provided my first opportunity to chat properly with the various members. Other shows were too loud, too busy or there was a rush to pack up to stay on schedule, so it’s been really nice to meet everyone on more of a personal basis. Jarrett is now aware that there is the opportunity to swim at the UK’s highest beach, Marissa knows what we Brits call an eraser (eraser? I thought that was something to shave with), Mike has seen the Bunnymen play and knows to be wary of Aussie slang, and Kristina remains suspicious of bathroom doors. In return I have some wonderful memories, a batch of swag for Charlie to give away and tips on a few NJ bands to investigate. Mike, Jarrett, Marissa and Kristina, I really can’t thank you all enough, you wonderful people.

I wasn’t due to fly home until the following evening so had a pleasant day exploring Hamburg. I like Germany, the beer’s good, the food doesn’t give you the trots, the public transport is excellent and if you are really stuck most people speak some English. What must not go unmentioned though are the ice cream parlours. Germany excels on this front and I couldn’t resist indulging myself at the appropriately named Glace Haus as the temperature again soared to a scorching 30C. Unfortunately though there were violent thunder storms over the rest of the country leading another delay in departure from the airport. Only an hour this time and I was back in Blighty in time to get home on the train.

That’s it then, excitement almost over. All I have to look forward to now is the football on 7th June as England warm up for the World Cup by playing Panama in Leeds on my birthday, and then it’s time to see old Johnny boy as Public image Limited play Manchester on the 16th.

That is until the September tour of course, when it appears that I’m going to have a visitor….