Martin and James – Eldorado, Zurich; May 21st, 2012
First gigs in a new country have a certain magic about them. I love traveling to concerts, especially to places I have never been. If me not having been to the country or city before coincides with the band’s first time there, chances are it’s going to be special. While Martin and James had been to Switzerland before, this was their first headline gig. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I was hoping for something good and I was not disappointed. It was one of those nights where not only the setlist was amazing and the audience was wonderful, but something more was in the air that can’t be described, yet made everything perfect. It started the instant the setlist was placed on stage and lasted for long after they walked off for the final time. For about two hours, time stopped and only music existed. Now let me take you along on the journey…
May 20th was a concert free day. After a late breakfast in Dachau it was time to say goodbye to my friends and catch a train from Munich to Zurich. As I walked on to the platform, I could see the remains of the previous night’s Champion’s League game everywhere. My train was packed with Chelsea fans going to Zurich airport. (What? They fly to Zurich and go on the train for 5 hours to attend a football match? That’s crazy! That would be like driving all the way across Germany for a concert! … Oh, wait… 😉 )
The trip was uneventful and I had time to review my pictures from the past two days. In the late afternoon, I arrived in Baden where my friend C. was waiting for me. We spent a nice and relaxed evening at her home, with good food, chatting away. She only knew Martin and James from a few videos I had posted on Twitter but was curious enough to want to come along.
On May 21st, C. had to work while I was allowed to sleep in. In the afternoon we set out to Zurich and arrived in the rain. Met with K. for coffee, did some sightseeing, had dinner and arrived at the venue at 6:45 p.m. K. was waiting for us all alone. Through a small window in the door, we could see the stage – at least until somone pulled a curtain in front of it. We listened to the soundcheck and sang along too. When the guys left a while later, there were still only the three of us waiting. We chatted with them a little bit.
Only a few more people arrived before the doors opened. All of us fit into the front row. The venue was small, maybe about the same size as the Nörgelbuff in Göttingen in February. I had no idea how many people even knew about Martin and James in Switzerland or if anyone else would show up. It was nice not having to fight for a spot at the front, but when the club was still empty at around 7:30 I got a little worried. If nobody else showed up, this could quickly turn into a disaster. I needn’t have worried. Pretty soon more people came.
The ticket had said the concert would start at 8:30 and by then the club was nicely filled with people, but Martin and James were nowhere to be seen. Ryan was first to arrive, putting down the setlist and another sheet of paper. K. and I checked out both immediately and discovered the second paper contained lyrics for a song we didn’t know. The setlist also looked promising and when the guys walked out I told them that we liked it. 🙂
Martin said hello to us and started singing, but had to stop, because the monitor was crackling. It was the same sound my radio makes if I’m getting a text message. They joked that someone might be getting a phone call from their mothers. When the crackling noise had stopped, Martin said “Hello again” and started with ‘The Rope’, one of my favorites. It worked really well as an opener and even though K. and I seemed to be the only ones who knew the song (at least nobody else was singing along), it was well received by the audience. After ‘Turn it up’ and ‘Maybe it’s time’, ‘With Fire’ was another highlight. It is seldom played, but always appreciated. Especially K. was happy because she had never heard it live before. I love it when they dig out such rarities. I also love it that some songs remain rarities, because if they were played every night, they would not be so special any more.
‘Wrong Directions’ brought us back to familiar grounds and had people clap and sing along. The audience was great, very much into it and very attentive. They may not have known all of the songs, but that did not dampen their enthusiasm. Everyone clapped along and cheered loudly between songs. It was clear how much they enjoyed the concert. The guys might have been nervous in the beginning, but that was gone soon and they seemed quite relaxed. They talked a lot too and I know I laughed out loud many times even though I can’t remember why. I do recall that they said something about the bad weather in Scotland and that people are drinking so much, because it’s always raining. And if the sun shines, it’s a reason to celebrate, so people drink then too. 😀
Martin announced ‘Cynical Skin’ with the words “This is a newish song. You might have heard it if you’ve been to a concert or two.” and smiled at K. and me. ‘Hard to cry’ followed and then a beautiful version of ‘Broken Sword’. At one point Martin’s microphone got stuck and Ryan had to help unscrew it – he needed pliers to do it so Martin quipped “Ryan’s not stronger than I am. I thought this was gonna be embarrassing.” 😀
The small room was getting quite warm, everyone was sweating. They said that it had been warm in the morning in Dachau, but rained heavily when they arrived in Zurich and now they were getting “hot and wet”. James told us we should come over and give them a big sweaty hug. 😉 Someone from the venue threw them bar towels to wipe their faces with. Martin commented that we should watch out if we saw the barman drying our glass with a towel like that. 😀
With ‘Bad Dream’ and ‘Live Wires’ things became more familiar again and the audience had a chance to sing and clap along. ‘I have to fall’ worked really well too. K. had been hoping to get the tambourine again, but it didn’t happen this time. During ‘You’re alive’ James’ microphone moved downwards just as he sang “sleep darling sleep” and C. totally cracked up at that. He saw her and laughed too. The phone noise was back too so he told us to “turn of your fuckin’ phones!”
While they were tuning guitars during the concert, a woman from the audience yelled for them to play ‘Caledonia’ (a Scottish folk ballad by Dougie MacLean – I just googled that 😉 ). Martin immediately admitted that he didn’t know the song, but James just started singing it. It was rather beautiful until he sang “California” instead of “Caledonia”, stopped said “California?” with a confused look on his face and started laughing along with everyone else. He added “It’s a good song really” and the woman joked: “It was.” which lead to more laughter.
The wonderful “Little bits of Light”, “All over the News” and a rocking “Crashing into Love” ended the main set. It was quite long, but still over in a heartbeat. The guys announced a small break and someone opened a window so we finally got a bit of air. I felt as if I had been in the sauna with all my clothes on.
After the break they played a brand new song called “What I’m searching for”. I could not understand all the words, but it touched me on so many levels that I was moved to tears. Something like that rarely happens so it immediately became a favorite. Just beautiful. <3 For me, it could have stopped right there, but the concert was not over yet. ‘Wheels’ was next, then ‘You’re a window’ and ‘Life’s a Show’. The setlist had said ‘Bloom’ and ‘Waltz’, but neither was played. They played ‘Somebody’ last. I really like the guitar version and it was a good ending to a wonderful concert.
They left the stage and I looked at K. and C. smiling happily. This might have been the best concert this year, for sure in the top 3. I asked C. if she liked it and she was totally blown away. That made me even happier. I strongly believe that Martin and James cannot leave anyone cold (unless the person has no heart), but I wasn’t entirely sure they would leave such a great impression. Shame on me for doubting them. The concert was simply amazing. I don’t think anyone in the audience did not love it.
We waited for them to come back out, chatted for a while and claimed our big, sweaty hugs too. 😀 They took their time with everyone, signed stuff, had pictures taken, smiled and said how much they had liked it. James said they had wanted to play something new for us (meaning K. and me). Awww <3 We talked a bit more, met another new fan and finally got ready to leave around 11:30 p.m. I got another hug from both of them and hugged Ryan on the way out. C. and I walked K. back to her hotel and drove home, reliving the concert. There truly was magic in the night.
Turn it up
Maybe it’s time
Hard to cry
I have to Fall
Little bits of Light
All over the news
Crashing into Love
What I’m searching for
Life’s a Show
You’re a window