You always make me, always make me smile

Milow – Löwensaal, Nuremberg; October 4th, 2019

Seeing Milow play to a happy crowd at the sold out Löwensaal in Nuremberg was  a lot more fun than I had expected. It’s not that I have not enjoyed the other Milow shows I’ve seen, but this one came with the huge disappointment of Martin and James, who were supposed to be the support act, cancelling the tour short notice. So I went all the way to Nuremberg to seen an artist I did not buy the ticket for. I have to say he totally made it worth my while though. It was a brilliant show and I could not have asked for anything more.

Oh the excitement, when after five years of absence Martin and James announced they were going to tour again. I immediately checked the tour schedule and bought tickets for four shows. Sold Berlin eventually, because it was tricky work-wise, but kept everything else and booked accordingly. Then my friend Ragnar announced a Germany tour for the same week and I was like “Meh, sorry, bad timing.” secretly wishing to somehow make at least one show of the tour. Be careful what you wish for I guess. Just a couple of days before tour start, too late to sell the ticket for Frankfurt or Nuremberg, Martin and James cancelled. It was for health reasons, so not their fault, but the disappointment cut deep. Also I was left with having to travel far to see Milow, because I had a flight booked from Frankfurt between those two weekend shows. Well, at least I could cancel Cologne and see Ragnar in Hamburg now. 🙂 Of course when an additional show was added to his tour schedule on Sunday I knew I was not going to see Milow in Frankfurt either, cost be damned. So Nuremberg it was, already exhausted from two other gigs and not really sure what to expect, because I had listened to the album only once.

Everything went surprisingly well and I even managed to sleep a bit before I had to go to the venue. When I got there I still wasn’t feeling it, but I met some nice people to chat with and one told me there was space upstairs to stand. Sounded good to me. Eventually, just before they let us in I was getting excited after all. Milow had always been fun, why should it be any different this time? They let us in, I went upstairs with my new acquaintance and she was right about the great view from there. Perfect. 😀

The place was packed soon enough and it looked like they had not found a replacement support act. I hoped they would not let us wait until 9 before they started. They didn’t. At around 8:20 the music stopped and everyone started clapping in unison. Yes, we wanted the show! Milow came out side stage with a lamp and balloons attached to his back and walked right into the middle of the audience to the mixing desk. It looked funny and made me think of Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Night on Earth’ and the New York taxi driver that is called “Helmet Lampshade” by his guest. Anyway, Milow played ‘You don’t know’ right there and immediately won over the audience. By the end of the song he walked towards the stage, left lamp and balloons with his crew and met his band up there. With ‘You and me’ the show was in full swing and pretty much everyone sang along, at least downstairs.

Milow told us that the last time in Nuremberg their keyboarder had had a somewhat uncool accident and they were all stressed out about it, but so far he was super healthy and everything was great. ‘Laura’s Song’ was next and I recognized it as one I had liked on the album. The band was amazing. They are so good, it makes me happy to hear them play and the sound was brilliant too. So maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to go all the way to Nuremberg after all. I was thoroughly enjoying myself. The audience was responsive and everyone on stage seemed to be in a good mood too. 🙂 ‘Greatest Expectations’ had us all clap along and made me smile even more than I’d already had been. Milow never fails to lift my mood. It ended in a greta sing-along lead by Nina. 😀

He explained how the next song was about him and his dad and how, growing up in the 90ies, he had his walls covered with music posters, but the ceiling with NBA posters and how he and his friends wanted to jump as high as Michael Jordan, still believing everything was possible and that was the spirit he was trying to capture in the song. I did not remember it from the alum, but it was very beautiful. After that he asked us if it was OK to play some older songs too and everyone cheered. He promised to find balance between the two and asked Tommy if that was OK. They had been joking all night about Tommy having to answer questions, so his reply naturally was “Is that a question?” 😀 ‘No no no’ and ‘Summer Days’ followed, both with fun sing-alongs. Hell yes, it was nice to celebrate summer one last time now that it seems over for this year.

Then Milow surprised me by speaking German, but of course, he had moderated “Sing meinen Song” on German TV and he learned it for that. He explained how he always says yes to a challenge, say yes first, think about it later. He learned well though and proved it with covering two German songs, first Johannes Oerding’s ‘Weiße Tauben’ and then Wincent Weiss’ ‘Musik sein’, the latter turning to English in the end. We were all laughing when he said he tried to speak more German and flipped a switch in his head. It’s only funny in German though – “einen Knopf in meinem Kopf”. He joked about people writing he still didn’t sound German even when singing it. He certainly had an accent, but it sounded alright to me. 🙂 It was a cool addition to the show.

After the  German intermission we were taught the sing-along for the next song, ‘Loud & Clear’. It rocked! Milow told us how Martin and James were supposed to tour with them like back in the old days when they had played almost 100 shows together and how he had convinced them to get back together and come on tour with them. Sadly one of the, got sick just before the tour and was in no shape to do it so they had to cancel. Instead of trying to find a replacement, they decided to just play a longer show. It sure was fun so far! ‘She’ was lovely and ‘Little in the Middle’ had everyone singing again. 🙂

They announced a brand new song called ‘Lost Boys’ and asked us to support it only if we liked it. 😀 Judging by the reaction downstairs I am pretty sure it had been played on this tour already. It was a good one too. I liked it a lot. The tropical, feel-good ‘Tourist’ followed – the melody reminded me of BAP’s ‘Shoeshine’. Milow mused whether he should do the next one and asked who had been been to the last show at Löwensaal, who had seen him before and who was there for the first time. He talked about recognizing people at the front and trying to keep it interesting for them like practicing new moves. In the end he said he’d do the next one for those who were there for the first time – as if he was ever going to play a show without ‘Ayo Technology’. 😀 It is still just as much fun as it was the first time around. ‘Howling at the Moon’ ended the main set with more clapping, singing and some jumping too. 😀

Soon Milow was back with Nina and Tommy for ‘Building Bridges’, which was gorgeous. Then the rest of the band joined them for ‘Help’ and it was even more beautiful. I love it when they do an acoustic set. <3 Two more songs they promised us at this point and two more we got. The new ‘Nobody needs you like I do’ with another wonderful sing-along. I already could not stop smiling. Somewhere along the way I had choked up too, but it’s all OK, I felt safe to do that. 🙂 The show eded with ‘Lean into me’ the title song of the latest album. He introduced the band and had us cheer for the crew as well. It was a lovely ending to a lovely show and I’m happy I went to see it.

Setlist

You Don’t Know
You and Me (In My Pocket)
Laura’s Song
Greatest Expectations
Michael Jordan
No No No
Summer Days
Weiße Tauben (Johannes Oerding cover)
Musik sein (Wincent Weiss cover)
Loud & Clear
She
Little in the Middle
Lost Boys
Tourist
Ayo Technology (50 Cent cover)
Howling at the Moon

Encore:
Building Bridges
Help
Nobody needs you like I do
Lean into me

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Muppets, Comfort Hobbits and a band

Svavar Knútur – Hot Jazz Club, Münster; October 3rd, 2019

Seeing Svavar Knútur is always fun and his shows in Münster are always good so I was looking forward to this one when I bought the ticket. What I didn’t know then and didn’t expect was the emotional hangover I#d feel after seeing Amanda Palmer in Paris and then having a living room show with Ragnar Ólafsson & Isabelle Saadat just four days later. So my head was completely elsewhere and I was super tired. Still, I trust Svavar to make me smile and having The Rocketboys support him is always a plus. It urned out to be a fun show with many surprises that really made me happy.

Under four hours of sleep at night plus and afternoon nap didn’t really cut it, so even if I’d seriously considered going jogging with Svavar in the afternoon, I was in no shape to do so. He gathers his fans to go jogging for the climate before every gig, i.e. whoever come along pledges to donate 5 € to plant trees and offset the tour’s carbon footprint. It’s a great idea, but I am no jogger plus I really do not want to sit at a concert in sweaty clothes and when it’s an hour train ride from home there is no chance to go back and take a shower first. Oh well, I pledges 5 € anyway and got to Münster about two hours before showtime. The usual waiting ensued, we heard the soundcheck with the band and got in around 7. To my surprise there were no chairs this time, but standing room. Damn, I am getting too old for this. 😉

Around 8 Svavar was on stage to introduce The Rocketboys, who were supporting him for the third tour in a row. Apparently they had not been officially announced for Münster, but I was happy to see them again. 🙂 Their music is lovely and they are always a good warm up for Svavar. They played a short, five song set, all with songs from their album ‘Certain Circles’. It was lovely, even though I was a tad disappointed they didn’t play ‘Viva Voce’, my favorite. They made me very happy overall. After the previous night’s gig I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to enjoy anything else and I had not felt ready for more music at all, but they made all my doubts disappear and put a smile on my face right away.

Go ahead
Away we go
Slow down
I will call you Home
The Land that no one promised us

We cheered loudly for encores and Svavar joined them for ‘The Best’ – they played it in the crowd, close to me. <3 Afterwards, Svavar climbed on stage right away, telling us how much he loved them and starting with his own show. He spoke about team awesome jogging with him and joked that he was doing so much for his health he could start smoking now. We heard about the music he grew up with and his love for ABBA before he played ‘Like an Angel passing through my Room’ for us. It fit right in with the Rocketboys and gently carried us over into his set.

He introduced his main themes, Weltschmerz, Waldeinsamkeit and Wanderlust, lingering on the Weltschmerz and explaining how his listens to people and feels their pain. He noted that white, middle-aged men have pain too and feel like nobody is listening to them. It occurred to me that this is Svavar’s version of what Amanda Palmer means when she says that radical compassion includes everyone. Interesting, how everything comes back to Amanda for me these days. It made me smile. 🙂 Consequently, ‘Emotional Anorexic’ was dedicated to white, middle aged men.

From Waldeinsamkeit and jokes about non-existent Icelandic forests we went to ‘Morgunn’, but not before we heard that becoming middle aged is a decision. 😉 Somehow he got from there to the description of a car chase in a James Bond movie which was really graphic and extremely funny. 😀 The new song ‘Janúar’ was introduced by praising the months as a hero, much like Batman. I had not gotten around to listening to the single yet and liked it a lot. I was fascinated by hearing Svavar speak about colors and melodies of languages. To illustrate his point he sang a few lines of Johannes Brahms’ ‘In stiller Nacht’ in English and then the whole song in the original German. 🙂

Next he told us about how boring music on the radio can be, because there are only a few chords and a few themes in most songs we hear. Also they are almost always love songs as if there were no other topics. Good point and of course well illustrated. 😀 After ‘Ölduslóð’ he let us know that the band was going to join him for part two of the show, so the people who did not care about a band concert could have some fun too. He played us ‘Emma’, a song he had written for his daughter and not played live before. It was lovely. He told us about his upcoming spring tour with strings (wow!), let us hear a German joke and then finished the first set with ‘While the World burns’, always a favorite of mine.

During the break I went and said hello to Svavar, hearing he was having a fun time. Eventually he got back on stage and tried ordering a beer from the bar. He joked about aggressive ringtones, Germans named Klaus and let us know the band had not rehearsed. Then we got a piece of Icelandic history and learned that of the 20.000 Icelanders who emigrated to America about 200 ended up in Brazil. He introduced ‘Lady Winter’ as the song for the people who left Iceland for America. It sounded amazing with the band. 😀

He let us know he was anxious about plying with a band, because he didn’t know what to expect in this set up. With a plea for saving trees, they went into ‘Undir birkitré’. He announced ‘Wanderlust’, but interrupted himself right away, because he had to tell a story. It was about the two Canadian women he had lied to after a gig inside a glacier in Iceland. It had a new, funny ending though. Liegasms for the win! 😀 Then we got to sing along to ‘Wanderlust’. It was a lot of fun to hear these familiar songs with a band. 🙂 Finally the beer arrived and his drummer asked if he could have it. He was just messing with Svavar though. 😉

It was back to languages and the different pronunciation of the word “cool” – I could not describe it if I tried. ‘Tiger and Bear’ was lovely as always. After that they took a chance with ‘The Glorious Catastrophe’, which he rarely plays. They managed it well and it was obvious they were all enjoying this gig as much as I was. <3 Svavar and The Rocketboys switched places and they took the lead on ‘Viva Voce’. I love that song either way and hearing it with the full band was absolutely perfect. <3 The last song in the set was a brilliant version of ‘The Hurting’ that followed a story about playing it at Reykjavik Crossfit Championship and how surprised the people where when they saw the man behind that song. With a band the song even had more power than it usually does. 😀

Yes, we sure wanted more and got two rather unexpected songs as an encore. One was a cover of Alphaville’s ‘Big in Japan’ – ah the memories of my youth. The other one was announced as being from The Muppet Show and that we would know what to do. We certainly did when, after he had instructed the band to just stand around the microphones when he started singing “mah ná, mah ná” and everyone answered “ba di bi di bi”. It could not have been better with Svavar going ful Muppet monster and the others scolding him when he went too wild. 😀 There could not have been a better ending to the show and Svavar knew. No matter how much we clapped and cheered he would not come back for another encore. What a fun night that was!

Setlist

Part 1 – solo

The Best (The Rocketboys cover) (performed by The Rocketboys with Svavar)
Like an Angel Passing Through My Room (ABBA cover)
Emotional Anorexic
Morgunn
Janúar
In stiller Nacht (Johannes Brahms cover)
Ölduslóð
Emma
While The World Burns

Part 2 – with band

Lady Winter
Undir birkitré
Wanderlust
Tiger and Bear
The Glorious Catastrophe
Viva Voce (The Rocketboys cover) (performed by The Rocketboys with Svavar)
The Hurting

Encore:
Big In Japan (Alphaville cover)
Mah Nà Mah Nà (The song made popular by The Muppet Show)

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