in Hamburg, The Academy
support: Anna Depenbusch

No, this is not only an ordinary concert report but primarily a report about my whole birthday. This assures me not to forget all the wonderful details and those who were not able to be there can at least get an impression of what they have missed.

Being curious and happy started last year on Christmas, when Lena gave me a calendar with a birthday card in it for March. Since we invented Ludde, everybody is keen on sheep. I absolutely can't understand that ;-) For details look here. Well, the card says: "Birthday again? Well, shake the magic ball and the old wise sheep tell you the future." But Lena had written next to it, that I may not open it before the 13th.

Nina hat Geburtstag

When Lena arrived in Hamburg in February, I even had to carry the bag with my present home! And of course the last days before my birthday a few people started trying to make me ask about it. Obviously everybody knew something... I just knew that Lena had used a fretsaw for it. But the package was lying under the table next to my couch and I hardly even touched it. Lena's next task became to guard the cards which arrived early and they found their place under the table, too.

On Saturday Dani drove to Hamburg and we tried to have a good evening in the Drafthouse. Well, we had before a little accident happened, but that's another story. When we finally were back home in the early morning hours of Sunday, the countdown for the big baking session has started. On Sunday I baked the first cake which always needs some time to become really tasty.

Suddenly around 10 in the evening Lena and I decide, that we want to have another cake for midnight when the first little celebration is going to start. So instead of sitting around and waiting we bake a small cake with chocolate in it (thanks to Jenny for the tasty recipe). The so called "guitar cake" I baked in the morning is finished yet. The icing is white and I tried to write a 26 on it just by spraying blue food colouring over it. The blue is very light so I add some red and yellow sugar dots. Well, it looks a bit strange... perhaps I can excuse it by telling that it was made in the USA? Anyway... At half past eleven Dani finally wakes up again and we start a game of "Battle". At exactly 12 o'clock I call my little sister who turns 21 today and throw her out of her bed to congratulate her. Next the phone rings and my dad calls from work. Dani and Lena still haven't managed to say "Happy Birthday" between the phone calls. But then, finally, they can. Lena carries a huge brown box with a giant red ribbon around it and three smaller boxes with red, blue and green creped paper hats around them into my kitchen. Oh my god... The colour code is well known here and I suddenly start to realize, what she might have done.

Nina hat Geburtstag   Nina hat Geburtstag

First I open the box that is filled with a lot of small packages and start to unwrap a small green one. My wildest fears come true: it's a part of a drum kit. Next I find some microphones, drum sticks and cymbals and finally even a small Gretsch guitar (wrapped in blue) and a familiar taped double bass (in red). The first big package to be unwrapped is the green one. I open the upper end very cautiously and look inside. I don't trust my eyes - it is a small Wolfman puppet! I can just shake my head and put him onto the stage. Yes, the big brown box is a stage once you open it completely and it even has the banner hanging in the back. The next small person to be freed from prison is Joe. He seems to be quite happy that he may play his little guitar again and that he is put onto the stage. The last one is - guess - Jamie. I still can't believe the things I'm seeing. And then Lena says: "Before you put Jamie onto the stage, pull down his trousers!" You know the result and the reason:


When the first shock is over I am allowed to read the other birthday cards. The sweetest one has reached Hamburg from the Netherlands and shows Ludde's family singing for me. In the end we eat the cake and drink some glowing blue liquid. Then Lena shows me the blog of the puppet making before we go to bed.

Nina hat Geburtstag

Monday starts with baking again, but the "Fanta cake" is rather easy. Whenever I cross my kitchen table to go into my study or back I have to grin. The little versions of my favourite Rock'n'Roll band are still standing there and playing all my favourite songs. At least if you listen very attentive.

In the afternoon we bake pizza rolls and finally start to complete the preparation for tonight's party at "The Academy". It's like always when girls try to be outstanding pretty: "Which top shall I wear? I look fat in this one, I don't like that one, I wore this one just a week ago, that one looks strange with my hair..." But in the end I managed to find the ONLY top inside my cupboard and even a pair of trousers, and shoes. Yes, most important work done! ;-)

I'm quite sure that we look really funny going towards the Reeperbahn with a laundry basket full of food and several other bags and styled as if it was Saturday night. We are really early reaching the Academy before nine o'clock. The very first words I hear when I enter are Joe saying "Happy Birthday". Being the first guests gives us the advantage to listen to the soundcheck and chat with Joe, Jamie and Wolff before the gig starts. To show Lena's work to them we have printed some pictures of my home band. The boys' faces when they see their 30cm equivalents are really cool and Lena is given credit for the puppets. The original Rockhouse Brothers seem to like the small ones but I must admit that I am quite happy that I were allowed to unwrap them at home instead of here. It would have been nearly impossible to carry them home without any damage. Joe asks me to explain the short skit I had written about their guestbook and given to him on Saturday. Obviously you can't assume that everybody knows who "You-know-who" is and the skit of course wasn't funny without this background information. Well, I will keep this in mind when my brain starts to string together funny connotations again and forces me to write about it. Suddenly Jamie stands next to me saying: "We've got something for you." It's got nothing to do with the licence-plate number of Florida or tired sheep, but it shares my freezer's door with them since then.

Nina hat Geburtstag

Additional to our piles of cake that we put onto the tables Leisa brings a huge box full of muffins with chocolate, jelly babies, smarties, and candles on them. Oh, and the stuffing seems to be exactly what Jamie would have asked for: "Joey, look, they've got cherries inside!" The Fanta cake pieces looks really funny with 27 thin candles in it and between several "Hello"s I am nearly too late to blow them out. Being the birthday girl can be quite difficult when everybody wants to talk to you at the same time. But it feels also very nice. Lena was not the only one who used a lot of creativity for a present. Dani built a huge lawn with the Elbe crossing it, a bungee crane, a certain blue and yellow flag, and an elk. The whole construction is called "Fun and travel cash box" and I will have to decide if I want to bungee-jump or go to Sweden for it. I think the decision might be bungee jumping in Sweden *ggg* There are a lot of people congratulating me on my birthday and I take this as the best way to say THANK YOU to you all.

Nina hat Geburtstag

This Monday is not only my birthday party but also a singer songwriter night at The Academy. And it is the last Pay-TV gig for more than one months. Tonight Pay-TV will be supported by a singer called "Anna". All I know about Anna yet is that she has released a CD last year and that Wolff says she's good. But...

...he is not totally right with that. Anna is not good, she is fantastic! Sitting relaxed on her left foot on a bar stool and accompanied just by her guitarist Johannes, her clear and powerful voice bewitches me right from the start. Her singing is technically perfect and I love the arrangements and the German texts. When she sings "Engel" I can't avoid a "Boah!!!" because I'm sure that I have never before heard a woman sing that high on a live gig. But it is not this "Yeah, this is the highest note I can reach and my voice sounds thin and sharp now". No! It still sounds unbelievably voluminous and warm. Wonderful!

Anna and Johannes perform all the songs they can do together. The atmosphere they create invites you to follow the thoughts or just let yourself be taken onto a journey through all your deepest feelings and dreams.

Nina hat Geburtstag
Anna and Johannes

The break between the two bands is used for some drinking and talking. Today it's Joe who surprises us with a new outfit. Jeans, a dark red shirt an a light grey jacket. Yes, not bad ;-) But I think we have seen our favourite outfit at the end of December... Ähm... back to the gig.

Today I don't take pictures or write down any notes because I just want to party. During the two sets we hear all the actual Pay-TV songs like "Emma & Julian", "Ordinary Girl", "Hear me now", "210", "Screw that" and "Monkey Boy". Joey, Jamie, and Wolff are in high spirits and joke a lot. Joey even tells his story about Bono that I have never heard before. Bono? Some among you who know Pay-TV for a long time will know which song follows: "Desire" by U2. Suddenly you can just hear one of them (I think it is Joe but I'm not sure) sing a fourth and a quint downwards with something like "dng dng dng" as the text. The mouth percussion part has started and today it doesn't only contain a cow or a sheep but also a whole farm. "Old Mac Donald had a farm, ee i ee io" nearly makes me choke on my beer because it sounds and looks so funny sung in a drum break. 

Nina hat Geburtstag
picture taken by Lena

A few weeks ago I wondered if I could ask the three to play "Here we go" but I decided not to do that. Well, it seems like at least one of them can read my mind. Additional to the usual routine they play exactly this song and "Holiday in Asia" which makes me think of the Beatles immediately. I have never heard these two songs live but I hope they will be played more often from now on.

In the short break between the two sets I ask Jamie at passing by if they can read my mind. He grins, says "Sure!" and walks on. Hm... perhaps he REALLY can. That would be the only way he could have known the reason for this question without me saying it. Sometimes you are not supposed to understand men ;-) Anna and Johannes leave the backstage area with all their stuff and we ask if they want to leave already. They will stay a little while but perhaps not the whole evening, that's the reply. Luckily Anna brought a box with her CDs so we all can buy "ins gesicht" and of course get the digipacks signed.

Martin is volunteered to collect some money from the audience during the second set. That is quite usual on Mondays but today it will let Joey look totally puzzled. At the end of the show Joe announces their next gig at The Academy, that will take place on 24th April. Someone he isn't allowed to mention will finally leave his youth behind that day (Wolff points at Jamie all the time). That is in exactly one month... well...

The Academy is nearly empty now because it's Monday and most people have to work tomorrow. But there are also people coming in. Some of them are really strange but I am obviously wearing my top with "weirdo please talk to me" printed on it. So suddenly one of them is telling me that he's new in Hamburg. Okay, welcome to Hamburg. This is a beautiful city and you will have a lot of fun here. But he says he is single, totally horny, and likes me. Oh my god... If this is the essence of being 26 I want the universe to take it back please.

Later I ask Jamie how it works, that the 24th will be in exactly one month. He is totally confused and replies: "It's the 24th today, isn't it? These gigs are always on the 24th." No, today is the 13th, I'm totally sure but he even takes out his mobile phone to check it. On the magnet he has marked the 13th correctly.

Nina hat Geburtstag

We don't find any motivation to leave yet and so we chat while the tired boys are packing in their equipment. They are all wearing shirts with their names on them designed by Dani. I don't know when we finally come home, but there is one thing I know for sure: I will never forget this wonderful evening!



PS: Reading the credits of "ins gesicht" my faithful blog readers will find a musician I have mentioned there before when I described a Jazz gig. Playing the grand piano is: Martin Hornung.

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