Poets of the Fall – Ramonesmuseum, Berlin; April 10th 2012
A small, intimate venue, around 100 invited guests, 2 band members in a great mood, lots of stories and 11 acoustic songs. These ingredients made a perfect gig. I cannot imagine anything that could have made it any better. They guys were wonderfully relaxed, the small museum felt like a living room, the audience was excited and friendly and the song selection was absolutely amazing.
Having just returned from Finland the previous night, I was still in full tour mode. It was nice to sleep in my own bed for one night though instead of staying at a hotel. Arrived in Berlin around 1:00 p.m. and met with my friend N. who had come from Russia. Later we met up with C. (Hello again! Didn’t we just travel together for a few days?) and headed out for the venue. It was a small museum with a café and surprisingly few people around. C. (yes, another one) was already there when we arrived. So were Marko and Olli. We walked in, ordered drinks, said hello to the band and the people from Remote Music, sat down in the café area listening to the soundcheck. I immediately liked the atmosphere. What a great place for the gig.
Once the soundcheck was over the gig area was prepared, i.e. all the showcases filled with Ramones memorabilia were moved to make room for people. We heard there were 100 of us on the guestlist and wondered how they were going to fit such a small space. More friends arrived, we took up our spots in front row, sat down, watched the place fill up. I felt the excitement building. Acoustic gigs are always special to me and this was the first one I saw without support from Jani and Jaska.
From the moment the guys walked on stage, I knew it was going to be even more special than I had dreamed of. The room was charged with happiness, smiles everywhere. It might have been that during those few seconds everyone realized how lucky we were to be there. The guys were in a great mood, very relaxed and talkative. If they had been under any stress from giving interviews all day it didn’t show. Nervous? Maybe a tiny bit, but it fell away from them soon.
Marko was wearing sunglasses when they arrived, but took them off soon. The – very nice – leather jacket stayed on though. Olli was in his usual stage attire complete with tie. They sat down and Olli started tuning his guitar. Marko commented that, like all guitarists, he was going to do that for the following 45 minutes and then practice for 45 minutes and that would be the gig. *Laughter*
‘Desire’ was their choice to begin the concert with, very laid back. It was a great way to start the evening and the audience loved it. ‘Kamikaze Love’ was next and worked really well acoustically. The tune gets better every time I hear it. Marko dug the setlist out from his pocket and asked Olli which one he wanted to play. He pointed at one that turned out to be ‘War’. I have no words. Just beautiful. <3
Marko looked at the list again and asked us what we wanted to hear. Someone yelled ‘The Beautiful ones’ and Olli just shook his head. Then someone yelled ‘Shallow’ and Marko commented that we had a good idea what they were planning to play. ‘Lift’ was the next wish and since acoustic gigs are different, it was not saved for last. First it was time to tune the guitar again so Marko told us a joke. *More laughter*. At one point, early on he commented that he had no sense of self-protection. “I do crazy things on stage and get laughed at – by everyone but me.” Remembering the previous 4 days, I turned to C. with a wink and a smile, saying “Laugh at you? Why we would never!” while she was already laughing so much that she cried.
After the amazing ‘Lift’ I am not sure in which order songs were played so it might be mixed up from here on. For ‘Sorry go round’ Marko announced that they were going to do something latin, bossa-nova and that people who had been on their tour this year – he looked at C., N. and me then – had already heard it. For everyone else this might be new and “In a Moment Ricky Martin will come out and dance for us. Naked!” WHAT? If he said anything else after that it was lost on me, because I was laughing so hard. Anyway, the song was fun as always and the line about the “fancy car” was changed to “fancy guitar”.
‘Cradled in Love’ has grown on me a lot over the past weeks. It’s never gonna be my favorite song but it’s just so beautiful that I enjoy listening to it a lot. It’s perfect to be played acoustically. This song does not need more than Olli’s guitar and Marko’s voice to be perfect. After the song Marko was joking on how difficult it is to sing that after running around on stage breathlessly. ‘You’re still here’ the “song about the seasons” made me really happy. It is such a lovely song. I do admit I missed the bass just a tiny bit, but I was happy to hear it.
One of the biggest surprises for me was ‘The Lie Eternal’. If I’d had to bet I would have guessed that of the four songs off ‘Temple of Thought’ they have played on tour so far this would be the one to be left out at the acoustic gig. I just could not imagine it would work in an acoustic version. When will I learn that these guys are bound to surprise me and guessing is just impossible with them? And the song? It was stunning. Stripped down to its core the song rose to a whole new level, all the emotions carried coming through even stronger than usual. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor when it was over. Just wow!
And then, the unbelievable: ‘King of Fools’. I had been wanting to hear this song ever since my first concert and I never thought I would. My body recognized it before my brain did though. I immediately knew this was a rarity and my smile grew even bigger than it already was. I also sang along, but it took until second verse before my brain was able to tell me the name of the song I was singing. Such a wonderful surprise. That alone would have made my night and left me speechless. Yet there were so many other wonderful moments.
‘Carnival of Rust’ had us all laughing again, because after Marko sang the intro, Olli could not remember how to play the song. ”Dude! We just played that!” It took him a while to get into it, but then it worked. Beautiful sing along too. “The last song should always be the first song,” Marko announced and they ended the set with ‘Late Goodbye’, a fitting closure to a magical night. Anyone who could not make it there missed something really amazing that seems unrepeatable to me. I felt as if I had been invited to their living room for a private concert where they only played songs I really wanted to hear. There are no words to describe the awesomeness of all this.
Afterwards Olli and Marko stayed for lots of pictures and autographs and a bit of chatting. I ended up taking pictures of all my friends with them, before finally getting a chance for a hug and a few words. We chatted about life on the road and too little sleep, smiling at each other understandingly. I thanked them for ‘King of Fools’ before they left.
Still stunned, my friends and I gathered and went out for after gig drinks, all grinning like loons and lost in our own thoughts. It was a long night and when I finally stumbled to bed at 2 a.m. only happy dreams waited for me.
9 gigs down, 7 to go. Next stop: Kuusamo
Sorry go round
Cradled in Love
You’re still here
The Lie enternal
Carnival of Rust