Bright lights, improvised songs and a sick leave

Martin and James – Knust, Hamburg; October 20th, 2013

The concert in Hamburg was a strange one for many reasons, the least of them being my “hangover” from the Poets of the Fall tour that had ended the previous day. After 8 concerts in 9 days I was more than a little tired. Either way, the concert would have been weird even if it had been the only one for months. As much as I love Martin and James this was not one of their best performances. Yet I need to compliment them for pulling through like they did and not canceling the gig. Jim on the other hand was brilliant that night.

When I arrived there were only S. and N. waiting, later R. and her friend joined us. It was surprisingly easy to get to the front. Before Jim they had another support act, but I have already forgotten his name. He was OK, just one man with his guitar, whom I could not see, because the stage lights blinded me the entire time. I like the venue, but those lights are really terrible, especially in front row.

Jim and Ben were playing their last concert together on this tour that since Ben had to leave the next day and it would be Jim alone from then on. They had a lot of fun that night and played brilliantly. The setlist had changed yet again since Dortmund with ‘Typical day’ and ‘I will wait’, two songs I hadn’t heard yet. I love his creativity and the willingness to always try out new songs in front of an audience. Many artists don’t take that risk, especially when they are “just” the support act. Jim seems to enjoy it though. He played the better-known songs for those who only wanted to hear what they already know and lesser-known songs for those who came to see more than one concert. It was a nice mixture – just the right amount of songs to sing along to and others to just listen. 🙂 By the time their set was over I was smiling and ready for Martin and James.

Setlist (from Cologne)

Like a human heart
Tell me
Blue sky
I hope you know
Diamonds in the rough
Cracked Polaroid
I will wait
Typical day
The jailer
Through my weakness

As they walked out I was squinting against the bright stage lights so I didn’t immediately see how sick Martin looked. However, when he took off his jacket I realized he was not only sweating badly, he also looked really bad. I immediately felt sorry for him and was worried when he walked off stage after the second song. James recruited the band to sing ‘I have to fall’ with him. Kudos to them for just carrying on with the show, but James plus band is not Martin and James. I think it was only then I fully realized the drummer was not the same as in Dortmund – Jürgen had been replaced by Max. Either way, Martin was back after the song, looking slightly better. It took a while before he fully participated though and he kept going to the back of the stage to eat something. By the looks of it he must have been feeling lousy. 🙁 Gradually, it got better and by the end of the show he seemed back to normal.

Before ‘My last prayer’ Jams said “You look good and you sound good. I hope you can say the same of us.” to which someone actually commented “ah, well…” – I’m not entirely sure she was kidding. James sounded just fine, but Martin still wasn’t singing at that point. It wasn’t easy to watch and made it hard to enjoy the songs. From ‘Crashing into love’ on things were almost back to normal though and Martin belted out ‘Cynical Skin’ as always, even though he sounded a little rough. I started to really enjoy the concert when they were joking again (in German too) about playing together for 50 years and being really old. They talked a little bit about the Hannover gig where they had to play unplugged due to technical failure. Thus, they were gonna try the next song ‘You’re a window’ “ohne Strom”. 🙂 It worked really well too – I loved it! 🙂

Towards the end it turned into a nice concert after all and it sounded like the audience was happy with it too even though they were a bit shy regarding singing along, especially at the beginning of ‘Matilda’. They got louder though, especially when James urged us on. As the guys left the stage we clapped until they returned. After the usual encores, where Jim and Ben joined them on stage, it was over and I bet the guys were happy to have made it through. Well done guys! 🙂

Setlist (out of order)

Where I belong
I have to fall
Cold heart
My dog don’t like the rain
My last prayer
Crashing into love
Cynical skin
I know a girl
Maybe it’s time
You’re a window
Bad Dream
Wrong directions
See no land
The rope

All over the news
You’ll be gone, I’ll be here
Life’s a show

After the concert I told Martin I had been worried, but he seemed embarrassed by it and didn’t want to talk about it. Those of us who stuck around long enough were in for a special treat. Jim and Ben got their guitars out and played ‘Falling apart’ after a fan had requested it. It was a fun version and since everyone loved it they played ‘Memoires from the afterlife’ as an encore. Just awesome! I was totally happy to have been around for this and walked back to my hotel with a smile.

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