in Hamburg, Music Club LIVE

The most difficult decision is: Will I write in English or German? Some won't understand a German version (best regards to Sweden), others will have their difficulties with an English report. Well, they will have to ask me or Leo. Since the Pay-TV gig in the Strand Pauli I was longing after the next possibility to see and hear them unplugged. Finally the day is there and so I drive directly to the LIVE after work. There I meet Dani and Lara who have been waiting for me to give Joe his birthday present. After that we've got plenty of time to talk and listen to Joe who's playing the guitar and singing while Wolff slowly unpacks his drum set. The mood is very relaxed and a kind of hushed. Exactly what you need after a night with too little sleep and a hard day at work. He caught a cold yesterday, perhaps that's why Joey starts with "Caught me on a bad day". It is very odd not to recognize a song by it's first chords but I like it. In my opinion music with the ability to surprise is still on of the best things that can happen during a gig. Wolff plays a chicken egg and a wicker rattle (is it really called Caxixi?) for this song. They are all three playing different instruments today. Joey has got Wolff's Martin & Co. acoustic guitar, Wolff uses a variety of percussions, and Jamie plays another double bass. This one is made of solid wood instead of ply wood so the sound fits better for playing acoustically. (And by the way: this bass is beautiful!!!) Despite having brought suits Pay-TV play in turned up jeans and shirts what emphasizes the relaxed atmosphere. After the first song Joe asks us not to sing or clap along because your neighbour wouldn't understand anything that way. They go on with "Why so sad" where Wolff plays the bongos with his hands and the hi hat with a tambourine on it. Afterwards Joe tells us about his cold and that they have decided to have some hot Chinese food this night. Perhaps it could help against the voice problems? Anyway the China restaurant has been highly inspiring for Wolff. Guess what he stole there to use it as drumsticks? The guitar licks at the beginning of "Why so sad" are extremely funky and soon we turn our eyes away from the chopsticks to watch Joe. I find myself being riveted on his play and drawing staves into my little report book to write down the licks. Don't call me crazy... Sometimes new songs are played in front of good friend before they are regarded to be good enough for public stages. Once upon a time this happened with "Biosphere 2" on Wolff's birthday party. The described listener seemed impressed and showed it by shouting: "Booooooooooooring" from a far corner of the flat. Nevertheless the song has made its way. When they are singing "Just me and you" Jamie's and Wolff's voices blend as perfectly with each other as never before. It sounds really beautiful and goes well with Joe who is singing very soft and nearly just murmuring the verses. One of the brand new songs is "Making it easy". The line "She's making it easy now" is the most sung part of the slow and melodic song. Wolff draws circles onto his snare (or is it a tambourine used as a snare? I don't really know.) what reminds me of rain and calls my attention. A young man once told that he doesn't like Joe's voice and thinks he's not a good singer. Well, perhaps this person should have listened to "Making it easy". I'm sure it would have changed his mind. Joe's singing is wonderful! The next detail that catches my ear is a backing part sung by Jamie. When you listen to him talking you are sure that he's singing and playing the same pitch: bass. According to this the backings are surprisingly high and show that Jamie's voice must have an impressing range. "Hear me now" takes me as always back to a concert in Seelze but again I pick up a surprising detail. Normally the amplified Gibson guitar sounds as if it were played with quite much energy. The unplugged version reveals that Jamie is picking the strings rather gently and softly. Do I really have to say which way I like better? A little point to criticize is that the song could be played a bit more slowly to create the atmosphere it should have. Joe and Wolff join Jamie to accompany him. The bass drum sounds like a timbal. But do you really wonder about it considering that Wolff is using a mallet to play it? Joe's next announcement is quite short: "Solitude we do now". So Wolff changes between percussions and the piano to play and sing his solo song "Solitude".  Some girls start a hushed discussion who might be the one he has written the song for and the jazzy tunes are over as soon as they have started. "Beautiful Babies" isn't dedicated today but it sounds - well - beautiful. Played with the pedal the bass drum again sounds like a timbal and the backing vocals are once more really wonderful. "Sunshine" takes your thoughts to a journey into summer, beach and sun. Did you know that rim shots played with a brush sound like rattlesnakes? Yesterday the double bass was booming louder than anything else but today it's sometimes nearly too soft. In return the glockenspiel sounds brilliant and clear. The last song before they take their usual short break is "A little more time". There's a dead stop in it that makes it really hard not to clap or tap onto the table to fill it. Wow! Joe tells us that the second verse of this song was written in this club while he was drinking Wodka Ahoi. Perhaps THAT is the secret for good compositions? Does it work every time you try? An will I try to figure it out?

Guess what Wolff is fetching from the bar right at the beginning of the break! A glass of beer, a shot glass of vodka, and a bag of effervescent powder! Does he want to try instantly? No, he walks down towards the backstage room and comes back just seconds later to fetch the setlist. Does anyone downstairs want to write down the brand new composition?

The second set starts with a world premiere called "Something to live for". I don't really know if the relationship is still working or if they have split up... But I wrote down some verses: "You gave me something to live for / you gave me reason to be / I kiss good night to your picture..." Wolff is again playing the piano and I like this songs at once. Unfortunately I think it won't be played often because the most locations don't have a piano. Such a pity! During "Here we go" all three seem to be dreaming a bit. Not that they are making mistakes but all three faces show a kind of being somewhere else, lost in thoughts. This time I won't start to analyze the chords because I've done that before and so my thoughts are taken away. I don't think of anything in detail, there are just moods and vague pictures flowing through my mind. Perhaps that is the best kind of recreation: Just be and let things happen without concentrating too hard. The guitar intro for Sixpence Non The Richer's "There she goes" sounds great! The vocals sound unplugged so much cooler because they are all singing more relaxed than otherwise. Nobody is shouting into his microphone and everybody is listening very well to what the others are doing. Especially for Jamie's voice it is good that he hasn't to stretch himself to reach his mic when he's standing in his usual cowboy stance.  Sometimes Joe is really sure that he has written a hit record. They missed it twice and the following song is the first miss. "Now and again". I've heard this song quite often live and on CD but never before the line "the fear of waking up in the morning to find nothings changed" had such an effect on me. Am I getting older? Sentimental? Or am I just tired? Wolff uses his tambourine as a hi hat and plays it with his left foot. There's one big disadvantage in playing unplugged: The audience needs a lot of self-control not to start singing along and clapping! They go on with "Days are oceans" and after that Joe describes the second time having his hit feeling. And the second time he was wrong: "Ordinary Girl". If you want to read a report where I'm just telling how brilliant they are you should skip this paragraph. Just to explain: I've got a very strong memory connected with "Ordinary Girl" that of course has got some influence on my judgment. It goes like this: Last year I came back home to Hamburg after a funeral. The days I spent with my family had been very exhausting and I was a kind of happy to be back and to be able to make my own decisions again. A day before I had missed Pay-TV's first TV appearance at YOOMEE but I made a DVD record. So when I came into my flat I just threw my things into a corner, sat down on the floor in front of the TV set, and started to watch the DVD. I was hoping to be able to forget everything for a few seconds. The recording started with a close-up of Joe singing the first verses of "Ordinary Girl". In that moment suddenly all the tension was gone and I felt comfortable and at home. I can't describe it properly bun there's still this picture in my mind and this feeling of being at home when I hear this song. Tonight "Ordinary Girl" is played in some sort of Reggae version. It sounds snatchy and I can't feel a flow or a melody that's going through. There's no connection between the phrases and the rhythm doesn't fit. Sorry, the original version is much better! By the way what's the connection between China and Africa? Chopsticks used as drumsticks again! Jamie starts to sing "Ordi..." but breaks off because nobody is joining him. Next Joey grins and finishes: "...nary Girl!" He explains that he doesn't want anybody to be left out so Wolf asks: "Can I have a go?" He can't but suddenly Joey sings "No woman no cry" and "so lonely". The crazy end of the song starts with "Oioioioioioioioioioi" and we're sure that we know who drank the Wodka Ahoi. In the end Joey even tries to yodel. That seems to be a typical Swedish kind of disease because Riltons Vänner also do that on stage in Germany. The third time having the hit feeling was with an unreleased song. "Don't let me let you down" is a perfect song for an unplugged gig. I like this version even better than the amplified one. If you listen to the text your thoughts will start to travel again. I'm not sure whether this is good or bad. But perhaps is being inspired more a good thing? Or does it depend on what the composer expected? The whole repertoire is quite unexcited tonight but now they start having a party on stage with "You can do anything". The last song in the regular part of the show is "Everything is happening". Joe dedicates it to his youngest brother John who isn't in the band. Their Mum got upset because of the lyrics so Joe wants to underline the fact that his brother is both handsome and well-adjusted. If "Everything is happening" is the last song, does that mean they don't play the Killer? That would be a real pity! But should keep the order, so back to the title track of the actual album. I love the bridge anyway but today it sounds even better. You can't really hear tones from the double bass. Instead you hear the clacking of the strings hitting the fret board because Jamie is slapping like a maniac. It must be difficult to do this completely steadily. Wow! The song ends with a very long crescendo and the intensity is increasing and increasing and increasing. Brilliant!!!

The audience doesn't want to let them go without at least one additional song. They play the new waltz Jamie sings. I still don't know the proper name, so I call it "Seashells". Joey has to play the guitar in a mandolin style and unfortunately it is much too low compared to the rest of the band. Again the bridge with the chromatic bass line is played twice what gives me the opportunity to watch them attentively and take some notes about what they are doing. Perhaps this will be the next song my guitar has to learn?  The final song is - YES! - the acoustic punk rock number "Killer". Jamie has found an equivalent to "Wipe out" and shouts "Stagedive!!!". Wolff plays a drum solo with his hands hitting his knees and in the last chorus Joe suddenly jumps form his bar stool to play the last lines standing. After his climbing-onto-our-table-action in Hannover such sudden activities are producing a bit of fear but again nobody gets injured. Puh!

When I leave the LIVE I think of the person standing outside the window smoking Joe and I saw last year. Did they read my report? Because now there are banisters in front of the windows.

[nach oben]