Writing: on board the 9:01am ALEX train from Munich to Prague. Second in its sadness & desperation only to the ugly train I took from Brussels to Rotterdam three weeks ago, this train is one big failure of a train. The ICE trains’ 2nd class cabins are slightly better than this stupid train’s 1st class cabin. We already already stopped for 30 minutes somewhere along the way in the middle of nowhere… estimated arrival time now is 3:30pm. That’s six hours and a half in a train!
It is always hard to leave a 5‐star hotel room in the morning… that is, unless you are leaving it in order to get into a different 5‐star hotel room. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case yesterday. I knew I was going to Munich; as Munich is one of the most expensive cities in Germany, with decent hotel rooms there easily exceeding the $200/night, I paid €100 for a room in a hotel with a few questionable reviews. Just as if I was testing a time machine, I was curious and scared at the same time.
It was a quiet, relaxing Friday morning walk to the nearby S‐Bahn station; hopped on the subway to the central train station, and decided to have breakfast somewhere in Königstraße, the pedestrian walkway I was checking out the day before. Sitting on a terrace waiting for service for about 10 minutes, I went to catch a table in a more noticeable location (for the waitress). About 45 minutes were spent consuming a tasty breakfast consisting of two croissants, some buns, cheese & ham. Coffee to finish and I went back to the station.
The ride from Stuttgart to Munich takes about 2 hours on the ICE train; I used those to doze off for a bit—I was very tired—as well as do some blogging. Arrived in Munich about 15 minutes past the schedule.
As I constantly revisit my travel plans to ensure everything is planned‐out and reserved appropriately, every now and then I find out about yet another train connection that requires reservation. I realized that, for train rides that span two or more countries, it’s always a good idea to reserve a seat—if at all possible. Therefore I decided to spend some time in Munich’s central train station to complete some reservations before heading out to the hotel.
After spending 15 minutes in line for the English‐speaking reservation specialist (the bookings I wanted to make were impossible to do using the machines), he decided to announce to the world that his computer is “having problems” so, everyone, please just buzz off. Gee, thanks.
My hotel, Hotel Achterbahn, was located less than one kilometre from the main train station. It had mixed reviews in booking.com but it was the most reasonable pick I could have made. They have a gimmick there; each room is designed and painted according to some mood, or theme. My room was called “Presumption” (there’s another room there called “Fear”), and really, I didn’t know what to expect.
Arrived at the hotel and was checked‐in by a lovely young lady that insisted to walk me all the way to my room, flirting physically and verbally for the entire way. At some point I asked her for her name, heard the response but completely forgot about it two seconds later as it seemed like the most irrelevant detail at the moment.
No thanks, darling; not while I’m on tour. She left and I remained there inspecting the room and trying to find what’s so “Presumption” about it. Conclusion: nothing. It’s painted light‐blue, has a single bed, tiny bed‐side table, a lamp, a 14‐inch CRT TV set and a small bathroom. They might as well just call the room “Moab” or “Tautology”. Meaningless.
But you know what, I’d dismiss it all and say “OK, it’s an expensive city, and it’s in a good location, free Wi‐Fi, and it’s expo days after all… so it’s good for the price”… had the room featured one tiny detail: a curtain for the window. They had a curtain there… I mean, if you could even call it “a curtain”. It was made of a fabric so thin that I believe most men would like to see women being dressed with such fabric, not windows. See‐thru ratio of about 95%.
It was, also, light‐blue; so at least it was consistent with the rest of the room.
Quickly dressed up, packed my laptop and went out. Some urgent issue popped‐up from back home and I had to attend to it right away, so I was looking for a nice cafe to spend time in while working on it. Coffee Fellows, the chain I paid a visit to in Mannheim, has a store at the second level of the central station; great cafe atmosphere, wrote that urgent email I had to write over some iced cappuccino drink; all good now, time to relax.
I was invited by a few Mark Knopfler fans to join them at a place called Park Cafe, not far from the Königsplatz (my hotel, the central train station, the Park Cafe and the venue were all at most 1km away from each other). It is a “beer garden”; I didn’t quite know what it meant so I went there to check it out. It turned out to be, really, a beer garden. Tables scattered all over the place, a few food stands at the entrance where you can buy cheap greasy food and (of course) beer. Reminded me of the Chastain Park Amphitheatre experience during the Kill to Get Crimson tour, just in much smaller scale and with much less grease and smell in the air.
Table was full and I decided to bid the fans goodbye instead of having everybody lose another inch of their already‐nonexistent personal space just to allow my ass on the bench. Not being a big fan of garbage food, I fled the scene to the nearby park—well, “nearby” at the sense that it’s more or less 12 steps away.
Blog post… done & uploaded. Some more travel arrangements… done. It’s about 5:30pm… time to eat something before heading to the concert.
I decided to do it right this time: went back to the hotel and did some proper research for a good place to eat. That’s right, Italian food again; what can I do, I am a sucker for Italian food. Research concluded that my dining option should be Ristorante Ca’d’Oro. Location? just facing the main railway station.
Initially I thought about passing on the opportunity; the chances of a good Italian restaurant being located just across the street from a main railway station were, how to say, slim. Also, walking around that area earlier that day, restaurants surrounding the railway station didn’t really strike me as pleasant places to eat in—more like fast‐food eateries.
Then I decided—what the hey. Lets give it a shot. And I’m very happy I did.
It is, really, located right across the street from the south side of the main railway station. It has a small terrace, as well as a few self‐serve tables at the front; however, there also is a full‐fledged restaurant there, which is where I ended up being.
Spaghetti with tomato sauce, mushrooms and soft beef slices… sounds good? I know. It even tastes better than it sounds. Works well with the garlic bread and then look what I had for dessert:
Slices of frozen yogurt / ice‐cream, with orange peel at the sides… washed everything down with excellent cappuccino and it was so good I wanted to go to the kitchen and kiss the cook, regardless of age, sex, religion etc. Wonderful dinner and I left for the concert.
The Königsplatz (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%B6nigsplatz,_Munich) is a wide open‐air concert venue located about 10 minutes walk from the main railway station. I didn’t know it was open‐air… unfortunately; was a bit chilly later on. But anyway, it is located in a beautiful setting—surrounded by trees and greenery. A few buildings around it date back to the 19th century, and among them you can find the Glyptothek (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glyptothek), the Propylaea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propylaea_%28Munich%29) and the Staatliche Antikensammlungen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staatliche_Antikensammlung) which is a antics museum.
Beautiful surroundings; apparently, the Nazi’s thought so as well, therefore during the 1930’s the area was used for the mass rallies of idiots.
I arrived at the venue late—around 7:30pm, perhaps a bit later. The instructions for markknopfler.com ticket buyers were to pick up the tickets from the main entrance and “there will be a sign for markknopfler.com ticket holders”; unfortunately, the way the entrance to the venue is laid out, it was quite difficult to find the very small booth from where tickets were supposed to be picked up. There actually is a big block‐like building there with the title “Kasse” which serves as a decoy; that building sells tickets for the museums, not concerts. My attempts to open that door failed, and I’m sure some people gave me a strange eye.
Finally, picked up my ticket and went into the venue. As always, quite a line‐up to enter the venue as people have their belongings checked.
My seat—row 1 seat 1—all the way to the right‐hand side of the front centre block, just facing a mountain of speakers that made listening to the concert tricky at times (my ears are a bit over‐sensitive to high frequencies played very loud). The weather at that time was fantastic; combine these two together—open‐air venue with great weather—and you got yourself a recipe for a very enjoyable evening.
The venue filled‐up quickly and the concert started at around 8:15pm. Looking behind me, I saw a sea of people. I felt like a leader.
Writing: June 27, at my hotel room in Prague. Was too busy to complete this blog post on time—sorry! I’m just having way too much fun here.
Why Aye Man was brought back to life after 12 days in the darkness—well, this being a huge open‐air venue, this seems like a good song to play. Setlist surprises were nowhere to be found and the band appeared to like the open‐air atmosphere; this is the first open‐air concert that didn’t have rain, mud or other annoying elements involved in it.
I wouldn’t tell you much about the music itself—not much to write that hasn’t been written already, except for Marbletown having an interesting addition on it: the fade‐out from the fast, rhythmic last verse into the Marble‐Jam took longer this time with John leading the fade‐out very slowly by means of superb violin work. That’s another Marbletown performance you may wish to get your hands on and add to your collection.
Coming to think about it, I recall having a discussion with one of the people reading this blog—I believe it was in Frankfurt—and he asked me to describe, at some point, how the band really is evolving and how it is manifested. Well there you go, then: get your hands on all Marbletown performances during the tour (should be easy enough at least for the European part, through Simfy Live) and simply listen. You’ll witness the evolution yourselves.
Towards the end of the concert, I noticed some flashes from the back. Turning around, I noticed what everybody else were noticing by that time—dark grey clouds coming in, with the occasional lightning making you feel that you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time. Luckily, though, it didn’t rain at all during the concert (it started pouring some time after midnight). What we did have, though, was quite a bit of chilly wind, making everybody and their sister cover themselves with coats and jackets that they had brought knowing that this is an open‐air venue (which I didn’t, because I was too dumb to check; so I felt a bit cold).
The wind carried some sand and other substances with it. Great day to wear contact lenses… wasn’t too bad though. I suspect the band was annoyed by the sheer amount of sand & dirt making it to the stage along with the wind—at times, the winds were really high.
Writing this at the morning of June 27 (in Prague; sorry for being late), I find it hard to remember when it was when the crowd swept into standing position near the stage—I actually think it was right after Speedway at Nazareth, as I remember us all dancing to the sound of Telegraph Road. An explosive outro solo set the audience on fire; immense cheers to the band as they were preparing for the encore.
For me—having attended so many Get Lucky shows so far—the best thing about this concert was, beyond doubt, the audience. 12,000 people (according to Richard Bennett’s tour diary) made for a beautiful audience that participated very well and seemed to be very excited about the band visiting their city. There was a sincere feeling of warmth in the air; people were dancing, singing—a lot of activity without interrupting each other’s personal space or enjoyment of the concert. Amazing. I consider the Munich concert to be one of the best shows I have attended so far, not necessarily for the music played but mostly due to the fantastic atmosphere.
Hats off to Munich’s audience!
Show ended at around 10:30pm.
Plans I had for right after the concert were cancelled, which meant an early night for me. Walked back to the hotel and went to sleep early as I had an early train to catch the next morning—a long ride to Prague.