I'm in Berlin for the first time since ... 1995, I guess. The weather is fantastic, warm, but not too warm, dry and sunny; just perfect for sightseeing and stuff.
My sightseeing is probably not too high on your list of "things we want to read about in this forum". And you are right. To be honest, I haven't managed to see much of Berlin. There simply is too much to see in the first place, and then I had to shorten my stay here for a day. Just let me say that Berlin is always worth a journey and then I'll shut up about the city. Deal? Deal.
Okay, so I met up with Christian yesterday - he had two super tickets: first row, left of stage, and he was so very kind as to invite me (Thanks, mate!). What was even more interesting was the fact that these tickets included soundcheck access. So, at 2 p.m. some 50 holders of sound access tickets had arrived at the press entrance to the O2 World. Our tickets were checked, and then we were given laminates and a special soundcheck access t-shirt (blood-red, of course). Around 3p.m. we were admitted into the venue and led to the seventh or eighth row.
The orchestra were already in session; the conductor worked through a list from the Paris show - minor stuff, but that's a conductor's work. The first 45 minutes of the soundcheck therefore consisted of remarks like: "Digging, bar 56, second cellos: Could you really hold out that final note right until the end of the bar".
In the meantime Peter arrived and waved briefly at us (and we waved back at him, of course... duh!). The orchestra then began to work on things he wanted to check out again, [side note: As I am typing this the radio is playing Games Without Frontiers] so he simply went up to the microphone and started singing. Melanie and Ane arrived soon after, and they rehearsed some parts where Melanie sings solo and also some other parts where they sing backing vocals. This was a bit peculiar, at least for us watchers, because their singing did not go out on the PA system but apparently only into the in-ear monitors, so all we saw was the two singing their hearts out without making any sound. Of course they were, but the orchestra were playing at the same time and blanketed out their voices.
I had to go back to the hotel at this point, so I missed the second half of the sound check (which went on, apparently, for a full three hours). I was also told that they rehearsed and played Mercy Street. And I missed that. Damn!
After a quick bite we went back to the venue. Ane Brun opened again, apparently with the same songs she played in Paris; at least the Big In Japan
cover was the same (and great!). Then the proper show began (with a nice little joke...). They played the complete SMB album from "Heroes"
to Street Spirit
The big question was, of course: How would Peter's voice be like? It was a bit on the brittle and fragile side on the album - would he be able to deliver the songs live? Oh yes, he did. He sang way stronger and better than on the Growing Up and Warm Up tours. The vocal performance was absolutely terrific, and the orchestra did a fantastic job, too. So did Ane and Melanie.
Visual effects were mostly abstract (but pay attention to The Book Of Love - do look up when this song is played - particularly towards the end).
After the SMB songs there was an interval of about 30 minutes before they continued with his "own" set. If you have read the Paris setlist: It was the same, except Washing
were not performed.
All in all, it was a fantastic performance, much livelier and much more entertaining than one might have thought from the album alone.
After the show a bunch of us went to a nearby pub for a post-concert chat and drinks. Everybody agreed it was a great performance, and those of us who are going to see the show again tonight are looking forward to it very much. If you are still undecided whether to go or not, my advice is: This show is a definite MUST SEE.
So much for day one, more perhaps tomorrow.