Martin and James – Stereo Live Club, Bielefeld; Mai 12th 2011
Throwing our underwear, that was something James asked us to do some time during the show. Our reaction? Laughter. Let me explain…
Martin and James are really sweet, friendly and polite guys that refuse to fit the cliché image of rowdy rockstars. So when they told us that usually people throw bottles of beer or underwear at them, none of us believed it. It didn’t look as if they really believed it either, or wanted to have bottles thrown at them for that matter, but they certainly did want our participation. Martin did describe the audience well when he remarked that we were “very quiet”. There was lots of applause and even some yelling after each song, but during the songs and while they spoke, there was mostly silence or the occasional giggle, at least for the first half of the gig. The audience loved what they heard and listened attentively, but it seemed they rather wanted to listen than comment.
This was my second night on tour with Martin and James and, despite the same setlist, very different from the first. They started acoustically with ‘She’s light guiding’, followed by ‘Turn it up’. In just two shows the latter has become one of my favorites and I really wonder why it didn’t end up on the album. I guess it is just impossible to put everything on there or, as the guys explained at one point: “We’ve been writing this album for 15 years. We wrote hundreds of songs together. Some of them were crap, but 14 were good enough to keep.” I have to disagree. I can’t think of any song I’ve heard from them so far that even remotely comes close to being “crap”. ‘Maybe it’s time’ and ‘Lay it down’, a song they didn’t play in a while before this tour, completed the acoustic set.
The show picked up some speed and energy with the band coming out it seemed the audience knew the debut album better than the two EPs. ‘Bad Dream’ got a good reaction from the audience, so did ‘Crashing into love’ where James told us they were still trying to become rockstars. I’d say, they are halfway there.
It was interesting that Martin told us in the beginning how they were always nervous when they started and only after he said it I noticed that they seemed a bit more nervous than the previous day. They also had to work a bit harder to take over the audience, judging by the reactions. However, much of their music does not really call for participation, but for listening and that’s what people did.
They mixed their setlist well with slower and more upbeat songs, full band performance and acoustic parts. For ‘Broken Sword’ Martin told us that he was really depressed when he was younger and couldn’t remember what the song was about, but how he felt then. After a pause he added that he was glad we didn’t get to know him then. They didn’t give us a chance to feel blue though, playing their “party song” ‘I have to fall’ and then Supertramp’s ‘Give a little bit’. Both got the audience going finally, clapping and singing along. The set ended with ‘Little bits of light’ and the current single ‘All over the news’, once again with a great reception from the crowd.
We yelled for more and the encores started with ‘Devils in the Doorway’, another one of my favorites. For ‘Somebody’ James sat down at the piano for the second time that night, telling us how hard it was to grow up making music in “a small town outside Glasgow where people are very closed-minded” and how often they’d been told they would not get anywhere with music. Hence, all the sad songs. Hearing that it made me even happier to see how many people had turned up for their gig and loved it. It’s wonderful to see them succeed after so long. ‘You’re alive’ ended the concert and sent us back to real life. Even though the lyrics are sad the song carries a message of hope. A good ending to an enjoyable night.
Of course I have to mention that Oh Napoleon did a great job as a support act. I really like their songs and performance. Also the club was really nice and the sound was great,
After the show I chatted with Martin and James for quite some time about all sorts of stuff from the “BVB is football champion party” that will be held in Dortmund on the day of their concert to biking home after the show. They wondered why I come to see them so many times so I told them that I wanted to take in as much as I can while it was easy to get to front row and that all of that would be so much harder once they were world famous. They liked the idea of world fame and I sure hope they’ll get the recognition they deserve. Soon, it was time to go and with a huge smile on my face I went home. Next stop: Cologne
She’s light guiding
Turn it up
Maybe it’s time
Lay this down
I was blind
Crashing into Love
I have to fall
Give a little bit
Little bits of Light
All over the news
Encore (full band):
Devils in the doorway