Munich 2013

The same procedure as every year

Another year comes round and with it a trip to Munich, as per 2011 and 2012. Again we're doing this in part to raise awareness of multiple sclerosis.

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.

The story of the trip by Mike. Any opinions expressed in this are entirely Mike's (and therefore quite obviously correct).

Tag Eins - Montag

Dumplings Once again, Easyjet were to whisk us away - this time from Manchester airport. All went smoothly, had a good drive up there and, after a bit of a wait to get the instruments checked in, a smooth flight. This time we were staying in an apartment provided by Kilians, with Steve staying at Christine's, so we parted company with Steve at Munich Airport and went to Kilians to pick up the keys. Next stop was Trautenwolfstraße (Bad Wolf Street[1]) to drop everything off at the apartment. A wander up the road ensued to go for dinner/tea/supper at Helmut's House of Ribs. Not only were their potato dumplings rather, well, suggestive, Herren they also had a rather entertaining photo mural in the Herren.

[1] Not really. I'm just a Doctor Who fan.

Tag Zwei - Dienstag

Kaz headed off first thing to Starbucks and returned with three steaming bidets of coffee. Refreshed, we sallied forth for breakfast, which finished up being giant sandwiches or Ecks (by Eck, that's a big sarnie) and further bidets of coffee.

Tram station Then we wandered northwards up Leopoldstraße to look at the tram station, which is a marvellous combination of art and function.

English Gardens Directly east lie the English Gardens, so we took a bit of time to have a little look round them, something we've meant to do for the last couple of years but never got round to.

Toms all secured The afternoon saw us going to Kennedy's to set up. Backline and drumkit were provided, though Rob had brought some used but good condition drum heads. It turned out that the tom heads had been recently replaced so he just put one on the bass drum, as well as shuffling lugs around to make up for the ones with stripped threads. Then the snare drum had been left at Kilians so he had a little expedition to fetch it, and the drum stool had been nicked. The stools in Kennedy's were a bit too low, but the snare drum soft case filled with my jacket and fleece was just the right height. Some thin rope that Rob had brought to stop the drumkit migrating was also pressed into service to stop the toms wandering too far. Super duper stool The bass and guitar amps were the same ones that Steve and I had used the previous two years, so we just said hello to two old friends. I'd taken kick and snare drum mics but they weren't necessary at Kennedy's - Kilians may be a different matter.

We went back to the apartment for a rest and met Rosena Horan, an Irish musician who was playing at Kilians in the evening and staying at the apartment too. Then it was back to Kennedy's for some food prior to the gig. Seeing as we'd not eaten anything since breakfast, this was very welcome. Then on to the reason for being there, the music. We'd planned for 4 30-minute sets (which is what Kilians do and what Kennedy's do at the weekend) then discovered it was 3 40-minute sets. A quick revision of the set lists sorted that out, then on we went. We were really well received - plenty of jumping around (including one chap who started dancing rather precariously on top of a bar stool until a barmaid calmed him down) and singing along, and the quiet night that the landlord thought was going to happen didn't. Rather than a pub empty around 12 as he expected ("everyone's tired of drinking after Oktoberfest"), there was still a sizable contingent at 1.00 when we finished "Always Somewhere", and it looks like a fair few of them will be coming to Kilians.

Munich's public transport ceases about 12:30, so we taxied back at 2:00ish. And so to bed.

Set 1

Set 2

Set 3

Tag Drei - Mittwoch

Rising well before the crack of noon, we went to yesterday's breakfasting place for a reprise. No quite feeling as energetic as yesterday, we walked from there down to the Walking Man, a giant statue of, er, a walking man.

The Walking Man Vast and trunkless legs of stone Rob puts his best foot forward The Walking Man

Kaz then spotted a rather attractive feature inside the building that the Walking Man fronts, so she walked in and asked if she could have a look while I (and, I suspect, Rob) quietly died of embarrassment. Rob puts his best foot forward The front desk security chap was very friendly and said it was fine, so Rob and I also came in and had a look - it's a sort of Japanese garden within the quadrangle formed by the office (and the window glass explains my ghostly reflection in the photo). Rather unusually, the turnstiles controlling access to the office space didn't have walls to stop you going round them but a sort of moat formed by a stream running across the boundary, with the turnstiles on a bridge over the stream.

Next port of call was Kilians for sound check. This time I put the bass, kick drum, and snare through the PA as well as vocals for Kaz and me. Maybe next year I'll bring yet another mic for Steve's amp, but I don't think it really needs it. And back the three of us go to the apartment to have a little rest.

So we return to Kilians for the evening session. Kilians Throughout the first set (of four) we don't seem to be bringing the audience with us. Kaz is using her wireless mic and reports that she can only hear herself in the foldback, not when she goes walkabout and listens to the main PA. I ditch the bass and drum mics from the mix. We start the second set and when she indicates to me that it's still the same, I stop the song and ask if the front of house amp is turned up. Kaz goes over to check and it isn't. So we get them to turn it up and suddenly the audience can hear Kaz too and the whole atmosphere changes. We go through the second and third sets, then comes the start of the fourth set at midnight.

We have received a birthday request, and Kaz sings "Happy Birthday" in the Marilyn Monroe stylee to an Italian gentleman called Guiseppe who refuses to tell Kaz his age (we would hazard a guess that he was a little older than the band members though). Then we plunge through the fourth set, and add a reprise of "Summer of 69" as someone who is heading back to California the next day missed us doing it earlier and expressed his regrets at missing it. We then feel a faint memory of naughty schoolboy as the manager tells us he wants us back for a soundcheck in the early evening for Thursday's gig as his bar staff couldn't hear the orders. We didn't think we were stupidly loud, but you should always keep the boss happy so we say yes. We have a little wander round to find a taxi, getting a fair amount of conflicting advice about where to get one, and one of our Irish friends from Kilians leaps into a taxi to tell the driver where to go, which happens (slightly surprisingly given his state) to be where we want to go.

Set 1

Set 2

Set 3

Set 4

Tag Vier - Donnerstag

Finally felt ready to face the world at 11:30. Kaz had already been out on a shopping trip to buy a present for her mother. We breakfasted at the regular place, then Rob headed for the department store up the road and Kaz and I went for a slightly longer walk in the English Gardens English gardens (mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday rain). We managed a circuit of the lake, stopping at the pavilion The ducks (two pots of tea and two slices of very nice nuss-tarte - 17 euros) and to feed the ducks, geese, and crows Feeding the ducks (at our last feeding session, the number of crows surrounding us was reminiscent of The Birds - several murders of them). Geese and a murder of crows

After a rest at the apartment, we assembled at Kilians for the planned soundcheck - as we left the underground station at Marienplatz, I wondered at the rather solid-looking lumpy rain that was falling - it was snowing. Snowing Steve and Christine caught up with us as we were sheltering from the snow (I think Christ gave us shelter but it might have been the shop next door). Once set up, we did a brief soundcheck and got the monitor and FOH levels right, a little lower than last night's.

The gig ran well. We had a good chat with the manager, who was much happier. Some of our friends from previous visits came to see us, and the audience quickly warmed to us. The odd cock-ups didn't matter, and although we didn't keep them all in till the end, given that public transport stops running before the end of our last set and the weather was pretty unpleasant, we didn't do a bad job. Taxi back to the apartment after winding down and packing up (and why do Mercedes back seats split in the middle, instead of proper cars like Ford Mondeos where they split 2:1?) and so to bed.

NB. The BMW-owning 25% of the band has asked me to clarify that any opinions of the relative merits of Mondeos and Mercedes might not be shared by the 75% of the band who weren't sitting with one buttock on the split rear seat of a Mercedes estate.

Set 1

Set 2

Set 3

Set 4

Tag Funf - Freitag

A pretty uneventful day, really. Breakfast as before. Kaz suggests a wander round Marienplatz and I point out that we've done wandering round Marienplatz in inclement weather two years on the trot now. So we relax for a while, then set out via Marienplatz where Kaz drops the apartment keys off, then to Munich Airport where we wander round for a while before finally working out what we're doing. Painless flight back and good journey back down a fairly quiet M6 to Tamworth, where Rob and Steve get in Rob's car for their final leg.

After our stay in the apartment our OCDs had rendered door hinges quiet (mostly so we didn't disturb each other) and locks free with the aid of some oil found in a cupboard, Kaz had prepared the laundry, and the battery in the hall clock replaced. We left it squeaklessly clean, so if/when we come back, hopefully we'll be able to stay there again.

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