German lessons, local differences and political incorrectness

Ezio – Pitcher, Düsseldorf; March 2nd, 2023

Ezio has been in my musical universe for over 20 years and I always enjoy seeing him. Yet, his shows are like the proverbial box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get. This one was no different, with random requests, loads of banter and many funny moments.

To my surprise the ticket and the venue’s website started a concert time of 7 pm, so I showed up at the venue a little before six only to find a sign at the door saying “entrance: 18:00, show: 20:00” – dang, could have waited an hour. Waited, exchanged a few words with Ezio, who’d stepped outside to make a phone call and got in eventually. Was freezing, so it was tea for me until more people showed up and we chatted for a bit.

The show started shortly after 8, with Ezio telling us he had bad eyes, many buttons to press  and big feet so he might fuck up at times. He was chatty that night and talked a lot between songs, making us laugh (and occasionally, groan).

He started off with ‘Not hard to find’, which I had forgotten about, but enjoyed nonetheless. This was a solo show and I’d thought I’d miss Booga, but he did a fantastic job on his own. He was happy we were there and told us he was in the middle of a Netherlands tour, needing a break. The next song was for J. who had been coming to the shows for 30 years. It was ‘Mermaid Song’, one people always call out for when he is taking requests and it was beautiful.

“Are you enjoying yourselves or are you thinking ‘Fuck this was a mistake!’,” he asked us, then told a story about watching an opera which turned out to be a mistake. 😀 He joked with the audience, then dedicated a song to K., but I didn’t recognize it, so I decided to call it ‘Some girls’ in the setlist. Next up was ‘Wild Side’, always a favorite. He did, what he had feared and fucked it up, so he turned it into a song of how his eyes are shit and figured that would make a great Rammstein song so he had to demonstrate, much to our amusement. 😀

Ezio told us someone last night had told him he was like “Ed Sheeran’s dad” and he joked about how he could have never produced a ginger kid. True. It turned into a story about his son, who clearly looks like he came from him. It was all a funny rant about musicians he doesn’t like. When he asked which song we wanted to hear so I called for ‘Bruce Springsteen’ and he played ‘I’m on Fire’ in response – fair enough! Afterwards he explained about his song ‘Bruce Springsteen’ and that he had though he might sell records by mistake. 😀 Then he played it for me anyway. <3

We got o hear about his hometown of Peterborough and a pub he played there one afternoon when it was full of drunk skinheads. He managed to make one of them cry with a song he had written about his daughter. That was the first time I heard him speak about his daughter, but apparently he is not worried about her as opposed to his son. OK then. The song was lovely.

There were a lot of different requests, next time he asked, but Ezio ignored all of them except for ‘Tuesday Night’. Having gotten one request, didn’t keep the guy, who made it from adding more later, but he did not get another one through. Fair. Next, we heard about him learning German on Duolingo, favorite words and the difference between Saarland and Sauerland. 😉 He made up a song on the spot too.

Ezio proceeded to ignore all suggestions and decided to play something fast, which was ‘Indian’ – it fir right in as he has noted that he was being very “un-PC” that night. *shakes head and smiles* He switched up guitars to get a more Spanish guitar sound and played us a new song about Vampires, followed by a Neapolitan song that he complained about being hard to play.

It was time for a hit song and changing back to the other guitar. First though, it was time for some more funny German words, “Kleiderbügel” (coat hanger) being a favorite and he noted that we were easily satisfied, because we always laughed. The following song definitely should have been a hit and it certainly is among Ezio fans  – ‘The Further we stretch’ brought the first full sing-along of the night. Yeah!

He briefly thanked his Patreon supporters and finally played ‘Thousand Years’, that had been requested several times already, joking that it was for the lovers out there. We got another new Vampire song – what’s with all those? It was fun though with a great guitar solo in the end.

Some fans had come from Belgium and it was quickly determined that nobody had come from further away. Then, Ezio proceeded to rant about Britain and how he doesn’t recognize the country any more. When someone called out “and the queen died” he was like “So fucking what?”, ranted about colonialism for a bit and spoke about how much the world and especially the UK has changed since he was young. Awwwww! I rolled my eyes a bit and so did a few more women in the audience. He even had a song about it, ‘I wanna be…’

It was time for more requests and he made us vote for ‘Deeper’ versus ‘Go’. We decided on ‘Deeper’ and he didn’t have a harmonica, so we had to sing it. We did terribly! 😀 It was all good fun though and as an encore we got ‘Saxon Street’. It’s not an Ezio show without that one and it was fantastic. <3

Afterwards I want and talked to him briefly and – of course – bought a T-shirt because I already own all of the CDs. Then I made my way home, happy I had decided to see the show.

Setlist

Not hard to find
Mermaid song
Some girls
Wild Side
I’m on Fire
Bruce Springsteen
“Remember the times”
Tuesday Night
indian
“Vampire Song”
“Neapolitan Song”
The Further we stretch
Thousand Years
“I wanna kiss you where the sun don’t shine”
“I wanna be…”
Deeper

Saxon Street

Give me a ukulele and I’ll play you any song you like

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain – Konzerthaus, Dortmund; February 28th, 2023

I had heard about the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and, being a ukulele player myself, was curious about them. So when I learned they were going to play in Dortmund, I grabbed a ticket immediately. That turned out to be a great decision and a very entertaining evening.

Having seats was nice for a change and I got there just a little before the show started. The orchestra was made up of seven people – three women and four men and during the evening they took us on a ride through all types of music.

They started with ‘Devil’s Gallop’, a tune that as I learned later, was the theme song for a 70s British TV series. It definitely sounded great. Will greeted us all, joking his trousers had come back from the dry cleaners too small and thus he needed to make adjustments to the next song – it was ‘Kiss’. 😀 and he sang high indeed. Leisa told us it was “great to back in Europe where you have fresh fruit and vegetables”. Because she loves dogs, the next song was about cats, ‘Lovecats’ that is. I was already in loves – it’s fascinating what a wide range of music can be played on ukuleles and it was so much fun to hear their takes on songs.

One of them told us about learning German from Television and then recited an ad. 😀 They were very funny overall and made us laugh all the time. Next up  ‘Life on Mars?’ mixed with ‘For Once in my Life’ – this should not remain the only time they sang different songs in parallel.

THey announced the Blues, which was not America, but the longer and more boring 32 bar British blue, for which they needed a sopranino ukulele. They had dubbed it “Nacktschnecke” (slug), for the slow song to follow, taht turned out to be ‘Limehouse Blues’ and wasn’t slow at all.

When asked why he plays the ukulele, Ben regularly replies with “Baby, I was born this way” and we got a killer version of ‘Born this way’. Leisa wanted to play us a song in celebration of ukulele women and asked if there were other women players in the house. There were quite a few of us. The song that followed was ‘Dancing Barefoot’ – beautiful.

It was time for some funk with ‘Play that funky music’, followed by some country / bluegrass music with ‘OLd HomePlace’. Will asked to get up and stretch his legs, was told not to draw attention to himself and of course did just that – ministry of silly walks anyone? 😀

Any people with long beards were told to swing them for the next song, ‘Gimme all your lovin’. I didn’t see anyone actually doing it, but there was a nice clap-along going with extra cheers for Jonty on bass. Thus ended the first set.

Set two started with wind like whistling and ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ – it was fantastic. Laura announced that as the only Scottish member of the orchestra, she felt she needed to bring some culture “so here is a song by an Italian”. It was the brilliant ‘Pencil full of lead’. I think it was Jonty who told us the next song would be about an ewe and a yew, two words pronounced the same, but with different meanings. We all laughed when it turned out to be ‘Only you’. 🙂

‘Teenage Dirtbag’ was next, with a good sing along. Then we go one “for all you lovers out there – it won’t last” 😀 – it was a brilliant version of ‘Dreams’. Then Jonty announced they were practicing something special for the Konzerthaus, but it was only Ben, Will and him, so the others could take a break. They did and walked/danced around behind them during the entire song, which was quite hilarious. The song as something classical, but I don’t know what it was.

Everyone was back in their seats for ‘Song 2’, “woo-hoo”s included. the “lovely song with five beats to the bar” turned out to be ‘Orange Blossom Special’ and bloody hell that was fast. It got really funny when will got up with the ukulele and then was joined, first by Hester and Leila, then Peter and Ben, all playing on that one uke. It was fascinating. In the end, Laura got up and took the uke away from them. 😀

They asked us to join them for the following song and wave our phone lights in rhythm to ‘Thank you for the Music’ – of course we did. It must have looked beautiful from the stage. When we all cheered in the end, Leila told us we were better than Düsseldorf. :)’Leaning on the Lamp Post’ was another fun one with a great clap-along.

They bowed and we cheered wildly until they promised to play one more. Each one of them now told us what they intended to play as the last song: Some Georg Friedrich Händel, Frank Sinatra, Gloria Gaynor, Pussycat Dolls and more. They decided to compromise which meant they combined all the songs into one piece. Ben started playing Händel, then Peter sang ‘Fly me to the Moon’ over it and Jonty chimed in with ‘Where do I begin’. Then Leila added ‘Don’t cha’, Laura sang ‘Killing me softly’, Will sang ‘Hotel California’ and finally Hester added ‘I will survive’. I’m not sure I assigned every sog to he right person, but it might have been the most amazing thing I have ever heard.

They deserved the standing ovations and came back for one last song – ‘Highway to Hell’. It was the perfect ending o a great show, with another chance to clap along. What a great night.

Setlist

Devil’s Gallop (Paul Williams and Charles Fox)
Kiss (Prince)
Lovecats (The Cure)
Life on Mars? (David Bowie) / For Once in my life
Limehouse Blues (Philip Braham)
Born This Way (Lady Gaga)
Dancing Barefoot (Patti Smith Group)
Play That Funky Music (Wild Cherry)
Old Home Place (Robert Earl Keen)
Gimme All Your Lovin’ (ZZ Top cover)

Set 2
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Ennio Morricone)
Pencil Full of Lead (Paolo Nutini)
Only you (The Platters)
Teenage Dirtbag (Wheatus)
Dreams (The Cranberries)
??
Song 2 (Blur)
Orange Blossom Special (Johnny Cash)
Thank You for the Music (ABBA cover)
Leaning on a Lamp Post (George Formby)
Fly Me Off the Handel (George Friedrich Händel / Fly Me To The Moon / Where do I begin / Don’t Cha / I will survive / Hotel California / Killing Me Softly)

Encore:
Highway to Hell (AC/DC cover)