MS Awareness gig
Steve's girlfriend Christine, who lives in Munich, suffers from multiple sclerosis. We headed off to Munich to play two gigs on successive nights (September 2nd and 3rd, 2011) in Kilians Irish Pub to raise money for a more comfortable wheel chair for her. Any surplus will go to MS charities in Britain and Germany. The story of the journey is on this page.
It so happens that there is some resonance there for two other members of the band. Kaz's long-time friend Debbie was diagnosed with MS in the 1980s and is now living in a residential home. Mike's first girlfriend Alison recently got back in touch with him after 32 years, and she has had MS for some years. And Mike's old schoolfriend Dr David Barnes is an MS specialist.
If you would like to donate towards multiple sclerosis research and support, The Multiple Sclerosis Society in the UK would be glad of your assistance as would Deutsche Multiple Sklerose Gesellschaft in Germany.
Any images below with a coloured border can be clicked in for a full-size image. The ones with blue borders were taken by Rachel Baine and the ones with red borders were taken by Lindsey White (thanks Rachel and Lindsey).
The full Munich 2011 gallery from Lindsey is here.
The story so far: Steve the guitarist has organised two gigs in Munich, at Kilians Irish Pub, to raise funds for a better wheelchair for his German girlfriend Christine, who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Initial plans to hire a minibus have had to be altered, and we finally finish up deciding to fly. Now read on…
Tag Eins - Donnerstag
Plan Q was in action. I drove over to pick up Steve the guitarist and the T-shirts which GPWL had printed for us at short notice, then we loaded up the gear and headed off to pick up Terry the drummer. We now had a Mondeo estate containing me, Steve, Terry, Kaz/Mrs Zero, and Paul/Minus Zero, plus hand luggage for the five of us and my Antoniotsai bass in a nice new Hiscox case, Steve's Les Paul, and Terry's cymbals. Uneventful drive to Stansted, where the car park ticket machine issues me a ticket for a registration number in which a G in my registration was replaced by a 6. I do hope that this isn't going to give problems when we leave, as I've pre-paid the car parking. We made laborious progress through security, and realised after consulting with the airport clock and my phone that the time was 17:23 and not, as Terry's "never wrong" watch said, 16:40. As there was a time planner that said that it was 12 minutes to the gates and we were supposed to be boarding by 17:50, we made haste for the gate in order to stand around waiting for our Sleazyjet flight to disembark.
We had an uneventful flight to Munich airport, which is conveniently close to the beach. Then we journeyed by rail to Unterfohring and got a hideously expensive taxi to the hotel (about 7km, 23 euros), where we learnt that we could have travelled one more stop on the train and got a far cheaper bus to the hotel. Steve and Terry set off to bring back Christine, who is (hopefully) the beneficiary of these gigs, while the rest of us wandered to the bar. Top tip - buy from the bottle bar, not the bar proper. Steve and Terry returned with Christine and we sat around till about 1:20 (00:20 UK time) chatting.
Phrase of the day: "Are we there yet?"
 I made that up. It's still true that Munich Airport isn't exactly on Munich's doorstep.
Tag Zwei - Freitag
Kaz went off at some ridiculously early hour (9:00 or so) to explore the neighbourhood, and reported back a little later. There was a nearby shopping mall (literally just round the back of the hotel) which had various eateries in it, so we headed there for breakfast, and returned at noon.
Now to go to Kilians to set up and soundcheck. The six of us (four band, Paul, and Christine) walk (well, Christine wheels) up to the nearby Alte Heide station and head to Marienplatz. After meandering round in the underworld for a little while, we find the second lift and get up to the square itself which is overlooked by a large ornate building with bells, which I later find out is the New Town Hall. After a little more meandering, we finish up at Kilians.
They have kindly supplied a drum kit, a Fender 212 guitar amp, and a Fender Thud Rumble 100 bass amp. We set these up and I find my way round the PA mixer. We play a few songs and all the levels are OK. Bonus - Kilians supply us (well, the band) with food and drink for nowt. We eat some (good) food and sup a small amount of beer (the German Guinness is more like a dark ale than the chewy stuff we have in the British Isles). Then we head back to the hotel to change and freshen up. It's now around 17:00. As we cross Marienplatz, the carillon is going in the New Town Hall, and assorted figurines are moving around in the tower. In the square is a chap dressed up as a green statue (as in verdergrised bronze) who is posing for pictures for a modest payment. The tube is far more crowded than when we travelled to Kilians, and we find that German tube travellers are every bit as rude and inconsiderate as their London counterparts. Perhaps it's to do with the mode of transport rather than anything else.
Pushing Christine around in her wheelchair serves to underline her need for a replacement - just going over small bumps is painful for her, clumping up and down kerbs, even dropped ones, and getting onto and off the older tube carriages which don't have doorways flush with the platform is also a painful experience for her.
A little later on, we return to Kilians. This time we have Christine's friend Mel with us too, and she guides us to a more optimal lift which goes straight to the Overworld from the bowels of the earth, and is also just a short walk from Kilians. Mel is about 150cm tall (not 120cm as I mistakenly said the next night - oops) and a little bundle of energy. She holds her arm aloft to guide us and I tell her she's leading us to the surface from the depths of Mordor, and she shows me one of the rings she's wearing, which is the Silmaril.
We had originally been told that we'd be doing four 30 minute sets. Then at lunchtime we're told it'll be three 45 minute sets, so we replan. Then, literally as we're going on stage, we're told it's four 30 minute sets, on the hour every hour, so we revert to (approximately) plan A.
The gig is a storming success. We play our hearts out. Mel, as planned, comes up to sing Don't stop believin' with us and makes an excellent job of it - her first stage performance. Our collection for Christine's wheelchair goes well, with over €110 collected, though we only manage to sell one T-shirt. We get an impromptu guest spot from Shane, a Rastafarian in the audience who jumps up to sing (slightly incongruously) Smoke on the Water. We actually play two 30 minute and two 40 minute sets. Afterwards, Kaz gets lots of compliments from audience members - some tell her that they were going to go as Kilians was roasting but they heard us and decided to stay, and others say that they were expecting to be underwhelmed when a bunch of wrinklies get on the stage, but we impressed them.
I must say how unspeakably glad I am that the stage lighting is provided by LED PAR cans, not conventional lighting, as I would be a small grease spot on the stage had we been under five PAR cans a metre away from us.
We finally get off stage at about 00:40 and relax. We have another couple of drinks and finally get a taxi back to the hotel at about 2:30. We sit round in the lobby with a bottle of beer each until about 3:30 and then head off to bed.
Phrase of the day: "Turn me up a bit, love"
Tag Drei - Samstag
We head off for breakfast at the crack of noon. The shopping mall will be closed tomorrow, so Kaz buys a few supplies from the supermarket. She then turns her attention to sorting out the set list for tonight.
We head off at 19:00 for Kilians. When we get there, we find that there is a big party going on by the river and they don't expect as many people as last night. We're not too bothered, we know we'll have a good time anyway. As it happens, after the first two sets, the place is as rammed as it was on Freitag nacht. The crowd is fantastic, and we have another great gig. We chat to lots of people, who fortunately almost all have good conversational English.
Mel repeated her success with Don't stop believin' and we once more tell the crowd that if anyone's putting a band together, they should recruit her. After all, she wears the One Ring. Some songs stand out as crowd pleasers - Mustang Sally, Creep, Born to be wild, and the two AC/DC numbers we do, You shook me all night long and It's a long way to the top. Oh yes, Jailhouse Rock went well too. Tonight it's two 30 minute sets and two 45 minute sets. We sign a pair of Terry's drumsticks to give to a couple of girls. We manage to sell another two T-shirts to two guys from Hamburg, who tell Kaz that we were the best band they'd seen for months and they'd be putting us in touch with a venue or two in Hamburg. Finally the evening comes to an end and we wander off for a taxi. Kaz, Terry, Paul and I sit in the hotel lobby with bottles of beer and finally head off to bed at 05:00.
Before we leave, Patrick and Paul, the owners of Kilians, tell Kaz that we have gone against the trend and packed the place out for two nights on the trot, when over the last few months it's been quiet on Freitag and Sammstag.
Phrase of the day: "You must come back to Munich"
Tag Vier - Sonntag
Kaz and I are woken by a large alarm clock attached to a church, then go back to sleep. We finally get up at around noon and eat the supplies that Kaz bought in yesterday. Then we count up last night's takings - €130, $28, and 50p. I hang up the towels I was using to mop my brow and other parts last night, and also my guitar strap - I like fabric straps and mine has pictures of dragons on, to match my bass, but it does get saturated with sweat - it was rather unpleasant putting it on last time as it hadn't dried out.
I should note (as I'm English) that the weather here is lovely. Very warm and mostly dry (there was a bit of a storm on Freitag but it stopped before we went out). Now I understand how Oktoberfest can happen in, er, October.
We relax today. After spending some time in the very pleasant hotel lobby, we repair across the road (the Domagkstraße) to Biergarten No. 58, where we partake of some Bavarian cuisine and sit for a few hours drinking the local Bavarian brew (apparently Bavarian beer is the best in Germany, and it's still made to the purity law standard). Christine tells us that the last few days have made her really happy. We tell her that the last few days have made us very happy. She also tells us that Mel would have joined us but following a drinking competition last night with Paul, she couldn't even remember her own name when she woke up. This also explains Paul's amnesia about the events of the previous night from the third set on.
Because I wrote earlier in the day about the fine weather, we get a storm. It starts with a light rain and plenty of lightning, and we assume that it's some sort of homage to the rock gods The Lightning. We make our way back over the road to the hotel, and then the storm really breaks with torrential rain bucketing down as we sit in the comfort of the hotel lobby, sipping bottles of beer.
I haven't yet mentioned the hotel properly. It's the Hotel Rilano 24/7 on Domagkstraße, and it's very good. Rooms are good, and the service is excellent - very friendly, and very unobtrusive staff who are nevertheless on hand at all hours.
Phrase of the day: "Shall we have another beer?"
Tag Funf - Montag
We decide to do a little touristing on our final day, and just to confirm our impression of Munich's weather, the heavens open and it tips down with rain. We take a taxi to Christine's, where a judge is to visit her that day to assess her needs. A flat which doesn't require her to be carried up and down stairs would be a good start. We continue to Karlsplatz and breakfast at McDonalds (it goes against the grain but any port in a storm, and this was certainly a storm). Then we headed up to Marienplatz and sit and listen to the gently dissonant carillon at 11:00, and then again at 12:00, and then, as the heavens re-open, we repair to Kilians and await Steve and Christine. We are greeted as the band that packed the pub out, which does wonders for our egos. So we eat, drink a responsibly small amount, and then say our goodbyes and head off back to the UK.
Another painless flight with Easyjet, whose service has been excellent on both our trips and who have looked after my bass and Steve's guitar very well. The car park ticket machine insists that I owe it £60, but a very helpful chap on the other end of the intercom very quickly and politely sorts it out, and finally we head off home. Kaz and I drop the others off and arrive home at 02:30.
Phrase of the day: "Has it stopped raining yet?"
Phrase of the trip: "Where's Terry?"