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Old 15 Feb 2008, 14:28   #1
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Krapplund's Avatar
Join Date: 09 Nov 2000
Location: Emmaboda, Sweden.
Posts: 17,508
7 Concert in Waren (Germany), Nov 1999


I should start from the beginning. Or at least from the moment when the plane touched down and I got off at Berlin, to rent a car to drive to Waren and see an Alphaville concert. That´s how I should start, and then go on to tell you all how nice it is to meet old friends, to hear Marian sing live, and drink a beer with the band. That´s what I should do, and what I could do. And it would be the same old article. Boring by now, after you´ve read so many others – and all so similar. That would sound false. Well yes, it´s true that meeting old friends, and hearing Marian sing live, and drinking a beer with the band is great. But it´s also true that an event like this is made so special by a whole combination of factors, some of which are extremely private. Factors which can´t be retold, but without which the true feeling of the event is impossible to convey.

So what? So, I don´t know.

So I´ll try and tell you what I can, as I can. Hoping not to write yet another enthusiastic and superficial report, hoping to convey a true idea of what it means to go to an Alphaville concert, and how much more important it is than the simple sum of its music.

Ready, Steady, Go!

November 5. I´m in the car, and I´m not in Berlin. I´m not in Waren either, that little town where the concert is taking place. I´m on the motorway and I´m driving to Walsleben, where Ilwa and Uwe live. It´s two in the afternoon and instead of rushing to Waren in the hope of catching the sound-check and seeing Alphaville before the concert, I´m driving towards a small village in what was once the Democratic Republic of Germany. I want to see Ilwa and Uwe. I think Ilwa and I first started to correspond back in 1987. I was seventeen, she was fifteen, and we were two teenage girls who mixed and combined love for Alphaville´s music with love for Marian. We´ve been writing to each other for twelve years – first by letter, then by fax, then by e-mail. I´ve watched her finish school, find work, marry Uwe, have a child. She saw me continue school, change work, drift from one unsuccessful boyfriend to another, write books. In those twelve years, she´s always been there for me – and Uwe too. So this is why I don´t go straight to Waren; this is why the place I´m rushing to is Walsleben; this is why I spend two hours with them, drinking tea and playing with Corvin (an angel with a nappy instead of wings), two hours of warmth and feeling at home. That´s it. Maybe what I like most about my trips to Germany is that I feel at home there; at Ilwa´s, in a café with Monika, in a hotel with Alessandra: I never feel foreign to the people or the places, nor even to myself.

And then Waren. It has the look of a holiday retreat for old people: the city centre is small and dignified; the suburbs are fields with yellow and red trees, and a lake that spreads humidity through the air. It´s a rather beautiful place and rather deadly too. With some difficulty, I find the inn – one of those graceful German inns with impeccable mansarded rooms, which would be comfortable even if they were bare. The Scandinavians are down in the lobby. There are a great many fans I don´t know, some whom I met at the Swedish fan meeting two years ago, one American (Michael from Boston), and then the others: Joachim and Willy. I haven´t known Joachim and Willy for twelve years. We met for the first time at the Lübben concert in 1996, living together that first, magical party, then we met again in the summer of 1997 in Sweden and Denmark… so how did we become such good friends? Why does it seem so natural, when Willy and I meet so rarely, for us to sit together and tell each other the most private details of our lives, certain that the other will listen sympathetically? I don´t know. I can only think, a little banally perhaps, that to love Alphaville might mean more than simply sharing the same musical tastes. Maybe it means having a similar view of life, or a certain communion of hopes and dreams. As I said, I don´t know. And maybe it doesn´t matter: Willy is here, listening with an attentiveness that is not easy to find, even with friends you see every day. We are perfectly synchronised, as we were from the very first moment, and that´s all that counts.

It´s time to go to the concert. Five in the same taxi, I´m pressed up against Willy, who probably isn´t so happy to be synchronised with me at that moment, and we´re all singing at the top of our heads… songs by Depeche Mode! Then we reach the Kulturhaus. It´s seven o´clock and there are tons of people there, even though it´ll be a good two hours before the concert: how come there´s such a crowd for Alphaville? We go in, and find that the big room Alphaville will be playing in is also packed. What? For once in our lives, we´re not going to be able to enjoy the concert from the very front row? It´s a good sign for Alphaville, though. And all we have left to do is bide our time. I personally choose to bide it with Joachim. He looks at me and sees how pale my face is these days, and says “Okay, Alessandra, tell me what´s wrong”; and for an hour or so, he listens, virtually without interruption, speaking not to tell me about himself, but to ask for clarification and to tell me what he thinks of my situation. And maybe you all think that isn´t so special: you and Joachim are friends, you might be thinking, it´s only natural that he should listen to you. Maybe. But I have to remind you that Joachim doesn´t see me very often, and yet he only had to look at me to realise something was wrong. And then there was that synchronicity, the same one I felt with Willy, that warmth, that shared knowledge that I´m with someone who feels bad when I feel bad. That is special.

Eva Lena is Joachim´s girlfriend. She likes Alphaville, but has never been a fan, and Joachim has been to see many of his “alphavillian experiences” without her. I met her in 1997, in Sweden, when she and Joachim invited me to their home along with Alessandra, Susanna and Silvia. Even then I was surprised at how easily she integrated with us Alphavillians, and I have to say the two days I spent at their home were very pleasant; I had a horribly sore throat and she made me warm milk with honey… She also came to the party in January and had a good time. She´s here now as well, mixing with fans she has never met before, involved in a passion which she does not completely share. And yet she seems in her element, and being with her is as enjoyable as being with a long-standing Alphavillian. We chat for a while, sitting on the stairs. We talk about men, of course, more than we talk about Alphaville. And I wonder: how can it be that someone like me, who is normally so critical and selective, who so often feels out of place, is capable of feeling so comfortable with a girl I meet so rarely? Again, I have no answer, nor do I need one: Eva Lena is a wonderful person, I feel good with her, and she´s a friend. Full stop.

Some chatting with the people from the Golden Feeling fanclub who run the merchandising stand, a few words with Ilwa and Uwe who have finally arrived, a push through the crowd to reach Joachim and Willy who have somehow reached the third row…


When was the last time I saw an Alphaville concert? Aside from the brief live set at the January concert, I have to go back to the summer of 1998: August the first, a cold and foggy evening, the mountains near Neuchâtel in Switzerland. A few things have changed since then, and all for the better. Particularly the stage show: the back wall is now made up of three round screens side-by-side; during the concert, these screens are illuminated with pictures and lights, playing on contrasts between colours that are hot and cold, strong or weak, hard or soft to underline the music, Marian´s voice, and the interpretation of the music by Marian´s voice. The three musicians stand in front of the screens. On the right facing the audience, Rob on guitar; in the centre, behind his drums, Shane; and on the left, Martin and his keyboard. They barely move during the concert; only Rob will occasionally come forward and show himself to the public during a solo. And although one can sometimes regret the absence of that showman David (the guitarist who used to accompany Alphaville), the fact that the band takes back stage does mean that the audience can concentrate on the only, real protagonist.


I expected to see him thin, as he appeared on recent pictures, and instead I find him strong and impressive again, but that doesn´t matter. He still doesn´t know how to dance and still forgets his word, but that doesn´t matter. He is on stage. Mesmerising despite the surplus kilos, despite the awkward dance moves. He is on stage performing. Performing songs, performing a role. Speaking in between each song. Not just announcing each track or asking the public if they´re warmed up. Every song conjures up a new atmosphere and a new message, and Marian, with his movements, his words and the intonation of his voice, creates the atmosphere and communicates the message. He communicates in German, of course, and a great deal of it goes past the Scandinavians and I; but we can pick up on the tone and the key words, and if I had to choose a title for the concert, one which would truly encapsulate its meaning, I would choose the words from Dream Machine.

I´m your best friend – the dream

So what songs does Marian sing? I´m afraid I can´t remember them all. He starts with a wild version of Elevator. I was told that some found it not so great that Marian starts off with a little known B-side. I think it´s better to begin with a beautiful start rather than a famous start. Elevator is a fantastic start. It´s followed by In The Mood, a song I have never particularly liked (in the beginning, I only liked it because it was my only chance to hear Marian speak). His voice seems slow, uncertain and slightly strained like someone about to explode – in anger? in madness? -, and then it grows, inflating into a shout. This is no simple voice. It is a shiver. The third song is Sounds Like A Melody, a bit more faithful to the original this time, less like the reggae version of previous concerts. What amazes me is that Marian sings it quite high, something he rarely does – through the years, his voice has grown lower, and I must say it´s interesting and tender to hear the old songs sung the new way. And after Sounds Like A Melody… no, I can´t remember the sequence. Summer In Berlin and Jet Set, Jerusalem and Dance With Me, Wishful Thinking and Astral Body, Guardian Angel and Monkey In The Moon… the arrangement is often so different from the original that I am unable to recognise the song until Marian sing. Forever Young closes the first part, the first encore is Flame and Big In Japan, the second encore the slow version of Dance With Me which Marian sang at the party, with only Martin as the accompaniement. But the real emotion comes not from a song by Alphaville, but one of Marian´s solo songs.

Cosmopolitician. I cannot even begin to describe the fullness and intensity of Marian´s voice and gaze while he sang this song. I cannot describe the actor Marian Gold as he spoke to the audience at the end of this song. I cannot describe the quasi-religious silence on the floor, the enchantment we felt before this song that was unknown to most and yet seemed to permeate all of us, emptying us from the inside. Cosmopolitician. Marian sang it among many other songs – it wasn´t the first or the last, or in any position of note. And yet it stood out all the same, standing apart from all others.

Talking about the audience. This time, perhaps because I´m not fussing over a camera for once, I notice the audience. There are many non-fans, even in the first row. People who can only remember the chorus to Forever Young. And Alphaville manage to involve them too? I would say so. Even though I find it difficult to judge the reaction of a public as restrained as the German one, I would still say that Marian succeeds: the people are moving with the music, following it without distraction, some boys are jumping and dancing a few rows back. Beside us, there are three girls in their late teens: they are watching Marian as if he was a dream, talking about him in breathless voices and screeches. Love-stuck. It gave me quite a shock to see girls born ten years after me going through the same emotions I felt ten years ago. But I am not surprised: Marian is Marian. Fat or thin, at thirty or forty-five.

Marian is Marian, so after the concert, Joachim, Willy and I go back stage: pushing past the three girls, we throw ourselves down a narrow staircase and plough into the band. I nearly land in KP´s arms, Joachim and Willy burst in between Shane, Rob and Martin. Marian is a little further on, his back turned, and he is in full conversation with a stranger.

So… so? So what can I tell you, my friends? The embraces, the words, what? The vibe, the vibe there was between us, that´s what I should be telling you about.

KP is the usual old KP: he speaks as though everything is obvious and he can´t believe that you´re not as convinced of his point of view as he is. With time his gaze has shrunk, his dark eyes looking ever more like the eyes of an Italian. But maybe his gaze appears more introverted in my presence because he´s afraid I and the rest of the Euphorians are mad at him for the cancelled participation in an Italian TV show, Meteore. Seeing KP so intent on explaining and being understood would have calmed the disappointment or the anger of any of you. While he´s talking to me, this is the feeling I have: KP doesn´t just want me to understand his point of view; he also wants me to share his reasons, to be entirely in agreement with him. As if it were important non only for me to repeat Alphaville´s will, but that I should also be one with it. And for once, when he speaks to me, KP doesn´t seem so surprised that I don´t find his point of view obvious.

Martin is one of those people who is a pleasure to watch. He is so jovial and cheerful that you only have to look at him to feel a kind of well-being. And he is friendly – not friendly as most of us might be with another person, but friendly in an absolute sense: I can´t imagine anyone disliking him at all.

Rob and Shane… well, Rob and Shane are young and cute. They enjoy being with other young people; for them, Joachim, Willy and I aren´t fans, but three kids they can spend some time with. This makes it all much easier and enjoyable, because they´re ready to joke and tease, and we´re all in the same boat – nationality aside: Shane has no sooner laid eyes on me than he starts on the same story he told in January: “Alessandra! Un cappuccin-O, due cappucin-I…” Shane seems to find the Italian plurals very obscure. “Una pizz-A, due pizz-E”, I tell him. Rob also participates in the good-natured ribbing, while Marian doesn´t seem aware of us at all.

Marian Gold. Marian Gold. How can I tell someone who doesn´t know him about Marian Gold? I was fourteen the first time I saw him. October 26, 1984, a Friday evening when I was alone at home, the video for Sounds Like A Melody, me discovering that the singer was a lot uglier than what I had imagined hearing his beautiful voice. A terrible crush, which for years kept me from having “normal” loves. But which also drove to write. I met Marian ten years after that evening: it was 1994, I was about to graduate and the only present I wanted was for Marian not to disappoint me, not to turn out any worse than my expectations. Marian was well beyond my expectations, very much so. Probably different, too, but definitely more fascinating. One of those rare people with whom you can be sure you won´t be wasting your time, one of those rare people who always leaves you with something – a thought, an emotion, an image – and never takes anything away. I don´t think it can be easy to live close to someone so rich; we tend to prefer equals or even slightly inferior partners, so as to feel stronger or better, don´t we? But when you´re with Marian, it´s obvious he is the better person. That doesn´t mean you have to feel weak or inferior, and that is perhaps the root of Marian´s uniqueness. He makes you feel important, doesn´t ever let you indulge in the kind of worship and contemplation that would be so easy when you´re listening to him. Marian wants to know about you too; he asks how you are, he talks to you to understand who you are and what you think. There you go: he is not only rich, he is also receptive. And I am proud to know him, and I would be even if he wasn´t the singer of my favourite band.

The after concert rendezvous is at the Shanty, a pub on the lake, where we can celebrate with Alphaville. I go with Ilwa and Uwe, having magically found them again in the crowd leaving the Kulturhaus. At the pub, we meet up with the Scandinavians, who are followed by the Germans and finally by Alphaville themselves. You can imagine what happened next: autographs, photographs, everyone vying for Marian´s time and Marian trying not to disappoint anyone… Martin gets trapped by a redhead and ends up talking to her all evening… Rob and Shane want to go dancing but can´t find anyone who is willing to leave Marian to go to a disco… KP doesn´t think I´ve forgiven him yet and explains himself from the beginning again… Joachim and I dance to If The Audience Was Listening… Marian says he can´t talk much and must leave early because he has another concert tomorrow and must spare his voice, but ends up staying with us until well past two… it´s business as usual, right? But for me who was there, this evening was anything but business as usual. I felt at home, as I told you before. Mind you, they served nothing but fish for dinner in this Shanty – and I´m a vegetarian.

Of course I talk to Marian. He introduces me to the stranger he was talking to after the concert: it´s Mario, one of his artist friends, currently inebriated but charming nonetheless. Marian laughs when I pinch his cheek: “You Italians always do that”. He is very touched when I give him a copy of the English translation of my novel, and from that moment on, he walks around with the book under his arm: “I´m such a scatterbrain I´m afraid to lose it”. He asks me a million questions about my life as a writer, as if I were the artist and not him… I needn´t tell you what Marian Gold means to me. I can say that his embrace is as warm and enveloping as a blanket, and I can assure you that any notion of time vanishes in his company. And I must admit that although the days of my crush on Marian are long gone, I don´t think it is possible to spend an hour with him without falling a little in love – or at least without feeling the effects of his charisma, whether one is male or female.

Marian leaves at about half-past two – he slips away almost unnoticed. Ilwa and Uwe and the other fans are also retiring if they have not already done so, and at three o´clock, the Scandinavians and I also go back to our inn. A quick shower, and I sink under the duvet. Tomorrow, I will go back to Walsleben. The day after, I´ll go back to Italy. I´ll start talking to my friends by e-mail again, I´ll keep an eye on the concerts to see when I can organise another escape from Italy. And I´ll have to write yet another report for the fanzine, and try to explain to the Euphorians, especially those who have never been to an Alphaville concert, just what they have been missing all this time.

I don´t think I´ve quite succeeded in my intent.

So do go to an Alphaville concert yourselves, my friends. Go ahead.


Alessandra Montrucchio

Translation from Italian into English by Emma Troupe

"Alphaville ohne Bernhard ist wie eine Apfelstrudel ohne apfel"
Last edited by Krapplund; 15 Feb 2008 at 15:14.
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