Last week (well it was when I wrote this) I stayed in The Netherlands with a close friend; he lives in Limburg area and seems to have the world at his doorstep. Being from a rural coastal area of the UK, I still find it amazing that you can access different countries in the time it takes me to get to the other side of Cornwall. It’s liberating, in 24 hours I’d been in four countries. There’s definitely something to be said for that and I rather liked it.
Visiting places opens my eyes and my mind, I’d love to do more of it, unfortunately it costs money to do but I’d love more equilibrium – as does everyone I guess. Pearl Jam tours have fulfilled some of this in the last few years, and I hope will continue to do so this summer.
My visit included two trips to Cologne and a visit to Antwerp, both beautiful cities. Cologne felt like a place I’d known for a long time already. You know when you get that feeling somewhere of just being comfortable, happy. I feel the same in Berlin, maybe it’s a German thing! Sunday, one of the happiest afternoons I’ve had in a long time, was spent wondering in the sunshine around to the Stadtgarten and then to the area around the Dom.
Whilst the main point of the visit was to see my friend, I was also there to see Augustines (http://www.weareaugustines.com/ ), my ticket being a present. I’d not seen them before but they have a brilliant live reputation, I was pleased to be seeing them ‘in the flesh’ finally.
They were playing at The Luxor (http://www.luxor-koeln.de/ ) in Cologne. We walked past it earlier in the day and the band tour bus seemed bigger than the inside of the venue and the sound engineering desk was taking up what room there was. Later, after finding street art and eating one of the best risotto’s I’ve had, we headed back to the venue. Once inside, there were already a good number of people there. The support band seemed fairly good from the few songs we heard, they certainly appeared to warm up the crowd.
We found ourselves in a good spot on Stone’s side (non PJ fans – right hand side). I gather that they give it their absolute all, and they did from the first song. It was all encompassing watching Billy the lead singer, rage and rise with emotion as he sung with gritty, heartfelt, passion. At times he appeared on the verge of tears and I felt the power of the experiences in his life awash in his performance (his mother fatally overdosed, his brother committed suicide and the band struggled to get where they are today). There is a honesty to this band, something which seems to be missing in a lot of the music industry today.
Whilst the lead singer in a band generally gets the focus of the attention, this band aren’t all about that. Each member of the band are needed and equal to produce this performance and they all excel. The on stage banter, the obviously bromances and respect shine through. Definitely a band which is the sum of its parts.
As the gig continued, the encores followed and then came( the half expected) acoustic unplugged session. Sitting on the bar of the venue, after pulling himself a pint, Billy (and the boys) brought the close personal gig to another level. It felt like you were a friend at their party. I want to be their friend, it gave me goose bumps and widened eyes.
These guys know their art, they know how to get a crowd eating from their hand. I’m not sure if Cologne was the best gig of their European tour, but to me it felt like a stadium performance in an intimate venue. Cruel City, Chapel Song, This Ain’t Me and Now You Are Free were standout songs for me.
I’m pleased I went, I’m pleased I shared the experience and I’m pleased I saw them in a brilliant city.