The Obsessions
in Hamburg, Santa Pauli auf dem Spielbudenplatz

for more pictures visit the Rockhouse Sisters' gallery


The last report is hardly a week old but the next opportunity to witness an excellent concert is "Santa Pauli", a Christmas market in Hamburg. It's hard to imagine that bands are forced to play open air around Christmas but as The Obsessions played at excactely the same place and around the same date last year, I take it as the truth and start planning the day. Eventually I end up at Dani's accompanied by my little daughter and several bags containing diapers, baby bottles, gloves, scarfs and caps. And of course I've brought my little jotter to take some notes as preparation for this report.

It's quite hard to find a parking-area in the vicinity of the Spielbudenplatz and so we decide to park near the Landungsbrücken. Unfortunately we have to carry Birla's baby carriage up a flight of stairs, but the rest of our way is quite amusing. Imagine two women with their kids walking along all those hardly dressed girls in moonboots who are waiting for their next wooers. Well, none of the girl tries to date us and that's nice.

The stage is prepared for a winter gig. Huge pieces of ventilaton pipe hide the electric fires that are supposed to keep the band's hands warm enough to play their instruments. Wolff's drum set is positioned behind a plexi glass shield and we assume that it should keep the instrument and the drummer warm. The gig is supposed to start at 20:30 and they get on stage early. Torben arrives shortly before the start and says grinning: "Thanks for waiting." Jamies reply is the introduction to a lot of funny remarks and presentation comments: "Well, when everyone's here we can start".

The first song is unreleased yet, it is "Gate Crashing". Afterwards Joe informs us: "The more you clap your hands the warmer you feel." The following song is from the last album which they have for sale tonight. It costs 12 Euros and is of course the perfect Christmas present. "Ordinary Girl" gives Jamie tonights first bass solo during which you can watch his Glühwein (or is it just tea?) steaming in front of him. Wolff may also play a solo and is announced like this: "And locked away in a plexi glass cage: THE WOLFMAN!" He is wearing warm clothes and a funny old-looking cap lined with plush. Well, he seems to want to establish a new used fashion style.

In the beginning of "You Can Do Anything" Joe uses a different guitar effect but I like this one even better than the "old" one. During the rest of the song I'm busy with some hot water and powdered milk because Birla needs her baby bottle. I think she might be the first baby lying in front of the stage wrapped in her winter foot muff, watching the dancing lights, and enjoying her warm milk.

Jamie wärmt sich

It is rather cold even on stage. Jamie plays the intro for "What The Woman Wants" standing very close to his electric fire. It puzzles me anyway how they manage to play with their fingers nearly as cold as ice. "Making It Easy" features a new detail, too: before it was just Joe singing the chorus but now Jamie joins in and sings the whole chorus in a lower octave. If you want to listen to this, visit the myspace page of The Obsessions.

For "Now And Again" Wolff needs his Kazoo. But why do I mention this fact? Well, Jamie wants to throw it to him but it hits the plexi glass cage. In the end he tries to throw it again a rather short distance. It would have been really funny if they had done the gumball trick. But I assume that the gumball machine is either broken or lost again. Even though Wolff now has got his Kazoo and definitely plays it you can't hear it during the intro. Perhaps the sound engineer doesn't know the songs? Or he has never seen a Kazoo before. Joe tells us to clap our hands even if they warm. We start the clapping as demanded but our standing power is quite low so Joe has to ask: "Where's the clapping???". I have quite a good excuse: I wonder why there's a dishtowel lying on Wolff's snare drum.

Wolff im Käfig

The next song finally is sung by Wolff: "Mr. Man". I can remember that he tries to do a little pantomime before what looks quite funny. Do you know these pantomimes who act as if they are enclosed in a glass cage? Wolff does the same but he actually IS enclosed in a glass cage. I love the jazzy tunes of "Mr. Man" because the song's sound doesn't exist of the usual major keys but of lots of additional notes. It's character is relaxed and easy without soundig too much as if the musicians had a huge doobie before playing. The rythm of the bridge is simple but infectious. It's just like this: 1 2 3 + 4 +. Afterwards there is a break for bass and guitar so Wolff has to play and sing alone. The last detail I remember is one that sometimes is difficult to compose: This song has a proper ending!

I don't take any notes during "Killer" but there's nothing in particular to write about it. The song rocks the crowd as always and shows, that "Love Me Tender" is not the hardest rocking Joe can do. Before he can start playing "Collateral Damage" Jamie has to warm up his trumpet. I'm not sure what happens to the oil inside the instrument's valves but I can image that it gets a bit tough. And of course the icy mouthpiece must be terrible to play. But when they start playing you can't see or hear anything about the difficult playing conditions.

moog und Trompete im Einsatz

"The Sting" is the next song which is new to me and I'm rather sure that it will become one of my favourites. I've read one of Wolff's articles about their studio sessions a few hours before the gig. In that article he describes the tuning of his tom-toms. And now you can hear that the effort is absolutely worth it! The tom-toms sound with a whole step difference and perfectly match the guitar's and bass' sound. The rhythm played by all instruments again is worth writing down. It's 1 2 3 + (4) + with the last + working as a pickup. You can dance or jump to "The Sting" or simply watch Jamie singing. The only party of the song I don't like is the ending. The harmony doesn't fit into the scheme an it's again a long long tune ending with Wolff hitting one of the tom-toms.

For "Back To The Rain" Jamie has to use all the instruments he hasn't used before for getting his christmas bonus. So after this song he will have played the upright bass, his guitar, the trumpet, the moog synthesizer and the Kazoo. He is quite happy when Joe's joking about the bonus but unfortunately I can't remember it all. At this point of the evening writing down any notes is impossible because Birla is bored from watching the huge disco ball above the stage and I have to carry and dance with her, her feet wrapped thightly in my jacket and her little hands drumming the rhythm on my arm.

The last song played in the regular set is "Love's Great Illusion". Joe sits down at the edge of the stage right in front of some rather drunken rolling stones. The woman whose legs nearly can't support her weight any more seems to have a sudden crush on Joe and tries to hug him or lay her head into his lap. I must admit that I'm surprised he doesn't stand up again but lets her do it. But even though everybody is laughing Jamie increases our joy by saying: "Oh, his wife's getting sentimental sometimes!" Well, I think it's time to hold my tounge and not to tell any further details or comments.

Joe and the rolling stone

The encore is "Monky Boy" and the evening ends in Glühwein, autographs, and pictures. I ask Wolff about the dish towel and the cage and I get just answer: This is just to keep the volume down because of the people living near the stage.

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