Monday, October 31, 2016

On the road with The Biff - Munich - 23 October 2016


Not long after London it was time for the start of the proper Ellipsis European Tour. One of the first stops for the band was ... my old hometown Munich and that would be where I would start my Ellipsis journey, too. So basically it was back to the roots for me to begin something new.  

Coming back to Munich was very weird. The first couple of hours were very nice - my friend Gabrijela picked me up at the airport together with her (my god-) daughter and we went to the playground enjoying the very nice fall sunshine.
In the evening Gabrijela dropped me off by my hotel. The super nice hotel I had booked for my last night before the move was a bit too pricey for a longer stay and so I opted for the Cocoon Hotel Munich Stachus instead. It is located between the main station and Karlsplatz (Stachus). The area is not the nicest - like most main station areas - but there are a lot of hotels because the city center and tourist sights are very close by. It is also only five minutes walk from the Munich office of my company where I would work on the Monday after the show. The location was ideal for me and would be great for everyone who wants to explore Munich. The hotel is not super fancy but it is new and very modern and clean and comfortable. For a city trip it is all you need really. The breakfast costs just 9,99 € and is amazing - I strongly recommend booking it if you ever decide to stay there. 
After checking into my room I quickly went for a shopping spree at some of my fave shops. When I was walking down Kaufinger Straße I started to feel really weird. I lived in this city for 16 years and I knew exactly where I was going but it felt so different. Kind of ... disconnected?  I felt like a stranger with an extremely good orientation. Everything looked familiar but felt very unfamiliar. I was aware that I at some point might feel that way when visiting Munich but I did not think it would happen so fast. I thought it would be more a "coming home" type of feeling but it was absolutely not. Looks like Glasgow became even more my home already than I thought. That's kind of bittersweet. On one hand Glasgow IS home and so everything is right like it is, but I kind of felt the farewell to my old life a lot more intense now than at the day I actually left. Probably I was too exhausted and excited on that day to get through to it. 

The next morning after enjoying the excellent hotel breakfast I was heading out to the venue.  It has been a long time since I properly queued for a show, but in Munich it had to happen. Sadly the venue - Zenith - isn't great.  It is big and if you are at the back the sound is terrible and you see absolutely nothing (you can go over the wings but still ...).  It is the type of place where you better make the barrier to be able to really enjoy it. Thankfully for the majority of the day it was sunny and I had great company of much loved friends.
Much less enjoyable was the actual entrance into the venue at doors. I had print-at-home tickets because that is safer when you order from another country, but the security took FOREVER to scan the codes and there is nothing more frustrating than a long day of queuing and then having dozens of people being in before you anyway. I made the barrier with a LOT of luck and the good will of some folks (which I did not know before) that had queued with us. In the end I even got my normal spot in front of James and Mike. Once I had settled down the only thing between me and my first show of the tour was some wait time ... and Lonely The Brave. Thankfully the latter ones did not play for more than 30 minutes. I know lots of my friends are fans and like them, but it is a big NOPE for me. The music is not bad, but kind of dull. I cannot make a single song stick in my brain even if I try and I really do not like the way they manage their stage presence. It is a bit sad .. Arcane Roots and Walking Papers last tour were so much more fun, but I have my hopes up for Brand New on the UK tour. 

Finally it was time and there are not many things that feel better than the moment the light goes down, the intro music goes up and finally the first song - for this tour "Wolves Of Winter" - kicks in. It is always the moment all the effort feels already worth it.
Biffy were amazing. The current set list is amazing - very energetic and exciting. One of my personal highlights for sure was hearing "Herex" live for the first time. I had a feeling already that it would have a completely different dynamic live and that was definitely the case. It is a lot of fun and the heavy outro is incredible - so powerful. I generally enjoy hearing the new songs a lot - it makes it all feel fresh and exciting. Thankfully the list of new and currently played songs also includes "In The Name Of The Wee Man", which - I cannot point this out often enough - might rank for me as one of the top 5 best Biffy songs of all time. It makes me shiver in the best way on record and it makes me drift on a cloud of sound and words live. It is just IT. 

Then we got "Wave Upon Wave"! I love this song to pieces and the version Biffy are playing live at the moment is fantastic. It is showcasing in such a great way what magnificent musicians all five are and that "Do you believe in magic?" line is basically what this gig traveling is all about. On the downside I do miss the "WAVE FUCKING WAVE" screams. I totally get that it is not happening. A few years and lots of voice coaching lessons later it is a reasonable decision to not do it, but ..... it is still a bit sad. I also miss the hand claps (besides Mike's honorable effort in the intro) and that leads automatically to what I most did not like about it in Munich: It is sadly wasted to most of the audience. The Zenith in Munich is not the Barras in Glasgow and a moment like this makes you painfully aware of it. The good point about "Wave Upon Wave" though is that  - other than some of the other older and more rare songs I heard them trying in front of a bigger crowd before - it is not killing the flow. I just hope that irritated faces from about row 5 to the back of the venue are not stopping them from putting songs like "Wave Upon Wave" on the set lists. 

One of the most interesting things for me was to see what "Re-arrange" is doing to people - people as in not the hardcore fans who like it really weird and complex and heavy, but the other 6,000 people standing behind us. What is happening there is quite magical. I guess ... it is watching live and in person how a song becomes a hit. When I was sitting later in the night in the train back to the city center basically my whole carriage packed with people was still singing "Re-arrange". 

Other than that it is just worth mentioning that it was a great show but will not go down as one of my favorites because of Munich being Munich and the Zenith being Zenith. It is just not a great place and Munich does not have the best crowds. I know ... it sure felt not that way for many of the people there (and good for you that you had the best time), but if you have the comparison with the crowd in other places you know the difference.  If - to stay in Germany even - I remember how incredible the crowd was in Münster in April or if you watch the Reading set from August then you know there is room for improvement. I also need to apologize to Mike for my countryman shouting "Oceansize reunite!" right behind me. While I appreciate that he at least knows that there are 5 people on the stage, that was so annoying and I could see Mike rolling his eyes in front of me (and so did I in my VENNART shirt). It was a great night nevertheless and definitely a good start for my tour.
Next stop will be Cologne with the back-to-back shows of The Twilight Sad / The Cure and Biffy. That will be very exciting (and exhausting). 

On the Monday after the show I went to work in the Munich office and that felt for a change very "normal" - like I had never moved away.  The trip back via Amsterdam was long, exhausting and like a weird déjà-vu again. Hanging out at Schiphol I had to think about how often I had traveled that route in those two years of going back and forth between Munich and Glasgow and I realized how stressful that was and I how incredibly glad I am that this is now an exception and not a routine anymore.

YesDragon - Hay Mirror 

This song is from the 2nd EP called "7 Bells".  I chose this track because that trip to Munich had a lot of self-reflection, of looking in the mirror to it. It is also catchy as hell. Just hear how vivid that bass is!

The "7 Bells" EP which includes "Hay Mirror" can be purchased here.

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