Martin and James – Helgas Stadtpalast, Rostock; February 28th, 2014
After skipping the mini tour in February, because all the concerts were too far from home, I went north for my first Martin and James concert of the year. The gigs I saw back in October left me with the feeling that I was missing something. Not that they weren’t fun, but somehow I was not enjoying all of them as much as I had previous concerts. Still, I was happy to go see them again and especially excited about the fact they were touring without a band. This is the way I first saw and heard them and it is the way I like them best. Thus, I hoped for an evening that would remind me of the old days and it was exactly what I got – pretty close to perfect. 🙂
My trip started with all trains being delayed by one hour, but that turned out to be lucky for me – I could take a direct train to Rostock instead of changing in Hamburg. 🙂 Weather was great, my hotel was nice and I had enough time fora lovely walk through the city. When I arrived at the venue about an hour before the doors were due to open, four or five people were waiting, S. being one of them. N. arrived a while later and we spent the time chatting. Once they let us in, people went everywhere but to front row and the place looked quite empty. It was a nice venue otherwise, a good size for small concerts.
Before we got to see Martin and James there was a local support act whose name I already forgot. As she sat down at the keyboard, she told us she usually played with a band, but would do this one on her own. Her music was OK, but nothing to write home about and while I liked a song or two N. totally hated it. It wasn’t my style, but she knew how to sing. The best thing she did was asking people to come closer and she even managed to get us to sing along.
When the guys walked on stage, the venue was still somewhat empty, but the people who had come made a good audience. The clapped loudly and sang along quite well too. The only minor annoyance was constant chatter from some during more quiet songs. It didn’t matter though, I totally loved the concert, loved hearing the songs in acoustic versions. : ) Martin and James were in a good mood and chatted quite a bit.
The setlist had not changed all that much since the last concerts I had seen, but it made me happy to have ‘Hard to cry’ back. Another highlight was ‘My last prayer’ in a stripped down acoustic version that suit the song so much better than the full band treatment. They had also kept the unplugged version of ‘You’re a window’, but did not go into the audience to play it this time. Overall, seeing them without a band was much better than with a band and it almost felt like the old days of seeing the first concerts.
It was a nice venue they played at, if a bit dark. They had a large disco ball hanging from the ceiling which reminded me of a venue I used to visit while I was studying. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the sound was OK too. The one thing left to wish for was a bigger audience though, but at least the ones who came were quite into it. They guys talked a lot that night, telling little stories about the songs. At one point Martin said it was good to see some new faces in the crowd, then realized that S., N. and I could possibly be offended (we were not) and added that it was good to see old faces too. I was already laughing when James corrected him and noted that “old faces” was probably not the right expression. 😀
The main set ended with ‘You’ll be gone and I’ll be here’. People where clapping and cheering for more while the guys made their long way backstage (at the other end of the room). It took them quite some time to come back though and by then, some people had already left, thinking it was over. Those who stayed, got to hear two more songs, ‘Matilda’, which brought some good audience participation and ‘Life’s a show’. All in all it was a nice evening. 🙂
Maybe it’s time
My Dog don’t like the rain
Hard to cry
You’re a window
Little bits of light
Crashing into Love
My last prayer
You’ll be gone and I’ll be here
Life’s a show
We stayed for a while, chatting with the guys and curiously asking about the music we were hearing form the venue’s sound system. Those were clearly Martin and James’ songs, but not the ones we knew. Turns out thy were playing music from Ryan’s iPod. What a nice surprise. Eventually we said goodbye. We’d see them again the next day.