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Old 15 Feb 2008, 15:02   #1
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Krapplund's Avatar
Join Date: 09 Nov 2000
Location: Emmaboda, Sweden.
Posts: 17,508
7 Concert in Lommel (Belgium), Apr 2003

Friday 04 Apr 03 – The “Glasgow to Brussels Experience”
The day started well. I left the house at 5 am to make my way to Glasgow to meet Chris at the railway station for a lift to the airport. When I got there, PANIC! No Chris to be seen! I wandered round looking for him, thinking of his description, for about 30 minutes, then my mobile rang. It was Clare telling me that Chris did not have my number to ring me and tell me he was stuck in traffic! “Oh no!” I thought, “I knew everything was running too smoothly!” So I decided that if I didn’t hear from Chris soon, I would get a taxi to the airport and meet him there, until I found out that the taxi would cost £55! Finally got Chris and we set off!

The flight went smoothly. I hate flying – ask Chris! One hour and twenty minutes later, we were in Belgium, landing at Brussels Charleroi airport. Clare and David were there waiting in trepidation, not knowing what to expect when they finally met us, and I think they were shocked (well it looked like it at least!). We set off for our hotel on the bus, all talking in eager anticipation about what was to come over the weekend.

When we got to Brussels, we piled into a taxi and set off for the hotel. The driver was quite amused to find out our destination – the Chao Chow Palace. He advised us that the girls might want to go out into the centre of Brussels at night and the boys go the other way as they might enjoy it, something we found in the street the next morning confirmed what he meant by that!

That evening, we all wearily trailed out of our hotel and set out into the centre of Brussels on a hunt for food and beer. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally settled in a bar for the first drink of the trip – a Kriek beer! Regular text messaging by Clare to the other UK fans we were going to meet up with made sure we all knew where to go next. We met up with Kay, Ewan and Nick in ‘La Mort Subite’ and enjoyed many more beers, of every kind! After saying bye to Ewan and Nick and making sure we knew where to meet up the next day, the rest of us went for a meal in the loveliest place, where the street was lit up by neon (on my naked skin?), and warmed by heaters outside the restaurants. We sat outside to eat. Full to the brim with seafood, pasta, chips and bread, we headed out for a trip to the alcohol-laced cityside.

Some beers later, Kay headed off and the rest of us headed back to the hotel. We were all very hyper, despite the enormous amount of beer we had all consumed, and on getting to the elevator, Chris pointed to it and said, “Elevator!”, to which Clare replied, “indicator!” as she pressed the ‘open door’ button. I had to say, “accelerator!” as we pressed the button leading to our floor! What a mad bunch we are! We all went into our respective rooms once the laughter had died down and Clare and I talked for what seemed like hours, watching a bit of German TV at the same time, finally falling asleep and dreaming of the next day.

Saturday 05 Apr 03 – The “Brussels to Lommel” Experience
We awoke at D-Day minus 16 hours or so. After dressing, we went down to a Chinese breakfast (forgot to mention the hotel was Chinese run)! Maybe it was the beers, but we all decided against that and stuck to continental – with oceans of coffee. After finally waking up, we went en masse to the centre of Brussels on a beer and shopping hunt, when we found the thing that confirmed the type of area we were staying in! Many pictures of the wonderful architecture were taken on the way. We found many shops and supermarkets selling all the best Belgian beer and decided to get that on the way back – too heavy to carry! We found ourselves in the ‘Grand Place’ where we took many more pictures of the excellent buildings, and wound up in the beer museum – free beer here, so what else could we do? Hence the first beer of the day was consumed at 12.30pm! Beers and shopping were gathered and a taxi taken back to the hotel. We gathered all our stuff and made our way by taxi to the train station for the train that would take us to Lommel. From here we were taken to our hotel by a bus that you have to call and get it to come and pick you up at the station and drop you off where you like! Here we would make our final preparations for that evening.

We aimed to be at De Soeverein (the hall where the festival was staged) for around 8pm. But first, we had to eat! On the advice of the hotel proprietor, we set out towards a place called ‘Calypso’ where we could get a quick snack before the concert. “It’s just down there”, we were reliably informed. ‘Just’ in Lommel means a 4 – 5 km walk! We hadn’t bargained on doing much exercise this weekend! This is when things started going horrendously wrong.

On asking in ‘Calypso’ how to get to De Soeverein, we were told the driving directions. We weren’t driving (how could we when we had beer to drink?). The look on the face of the waitress said it all! The hall was miles away! Lommel is a small town/village spread out over a vast area! Taxi numbers were quickly obtained and Clare tried them on her mobile. It seems that the idea of taxis doesn’t work that well in Lommel, as everyone that Clare rang hung up on her! OH SHIT! is a phrase I remember being used very well, then the lady that ran the place told us her husband would chauffeur us all to De Soeverein for 10 Euro! Bargain at half the price! Anything would have done at any price at this stage in the evening! FINALLY! We were on our way.

At the hall, we walked tentatively into the main arena. The darkness was the first thing to hit us. We’d arranged to meet Claudia but how would we find her in this? There were two stages, A and B, on either end of the arena, with a huge bar in the middle of the hall (more beers!). After exchanging 9 Euro for six tokens for beer, we got a drink and walked round a bit, trying to find a quieter place to sit and talk (‘Male or Female’ were playing on stage B – noisy and not that good!). We met up with Kay, Ewan and Nick and sat and talked until we decided to move at about 10pm to make our way to stage A, where Alphaville was setting up for the 11pm start. Our reasoning was that if we clung onto the barrier for dear life and did not move, we’d be there at the front for the whole concert, RIGHT IN THE SPIT LINE! And we were right! We watched as the equipment was set up and Martin and the rest of the band did a few sound checks. Then it was time (about 20 minutes late!).

Alphaville On Stage And Behind!!
The dry ice fog introduced Marian on stage. He got straight into it, and my first thought was, “what on earth is he wearing?” It was a kind of blue raincoat thing! But in any case, he still looked great! Everyone was expecting the gig to open with ‘Elevator’ but Marian launched straight into ‘Fools’, and it took me a while to hear that he had changed ‘keep on dancing’ to ‘keep on fighting’ – the politically aware version of Marian! We all went ape shit when the song had finished. Marian worked his way through many Alphaville favourites, many from ‘Salvation’, which pleased me! Besides everything, to hear ‘Monkey in the Moon’ and ‘Jerusalem’ was fabulous! The others and I had a great sing along, and Marian smiled his beautiful smile and laughed a lot when he heard us! ‘Carry Your Flag’ was superb, and Marian waved his arms as he sang, encouraging us all to do the same. When ‘On the Beach’ started up, it was a huge surprise! Marian closed his eyes and got right inside the song, swaying with the microphone and feeling every note of the song. Maybe it was that the song was new live, but there was a little technical hitch and Marian left the stage for a few minutes, leaving us wondering what was going on. However, he returned and began singing in his beautiful voice again – ‘Monkey in the Moon’ and ‘Forever Young’! He held out the microphone for us to sing the first verse and chorus of FY and that feeling of elation is something I will never forget! Most of the crowd there were shouting for FY but I screamed “not yet!”, knowing that when Marian sang that, that would be the end of the show. Marian knew where the UK fans were, right at the front, and we got a few knowing smiles and laughs right through the gig, especially when I shouted, “Go Marian!”. Martin too smiled and laughed, and the band as a whole gave a powerful and wonderful performance. Marian finally left the stage, blowing a kiss to us all.

After Alphaville had left the stage, the process of finding Claudia began. We had been emailed prior to the gig to tell us that it would be Marian’s pleasure to meet the UK fans. So it was a really big deal that we found Claudia and quickly! I spotted Daniela and Clare plucked up the courage to tell her we were here waiting. Daniela told us to wait while she got Claudia. Claudia arrived and gathered all 10 of us up (some had tagged on to us, knowing where we were going.), saying, “follow me!”, referring to the wonderful version of SLAM that Marian did! Our legs hardly moved, knowing that we were going to meet the man that made the whole weekend possible! We finally arrived at the dressing room, where Marian was sitting behind a table on a red plastic chair. He waved and said hi as we walked through the doorway slowly! Martin and the others made a quick exit and we wished they had stayed as we would have liked to talk to them too, but the shuttle was waiting. Therefore Marian had only about 10 minutes with us all. Claudia asked that we didn’t take any photos, which we weren’t too happy about, but just meeting Marian was brilliant enough! (I’ll get one, one day)

Marian greeted us all with a handshake and a kiss on both cheeks, asking all our names and making us feel right at home straight away. When he got to me (I was third in line), he asked my name and I told him. He then said, “You’re Karen? I’ve read all your mails!”. He has such a way of making everyone feel special and welcome, and I felt just that right then! I did not know how to react and I still don’t know if my reaction was the right one, but he and I smiled a knowing smile.

When the greetings were done, Marian offered us all a drink – Red Bull (!), coke, beer or wine, and he poured out the wine for us! We then got to talk. Ewan mentioned Marian’s ‘Nostradamus’ project, to which Marian replied, “how do you know about that!” He then elaborated on it a bit, saying he is doing it a little at a time, with no plans to publish it online, and he has it all on his laptop. We talked about ‘Crazyshow’ and how we liked it a lot and we talked about the signatures inside. Marian said that his idea was to get people together by putting half a song title in each of the booklets and getting people to match them up (I said I’d guessed that weeks ago!). I asked about my ‘all-seeing eye’ and why he drew that, to which he replied that he had run out of ideas by then! He recalled that he had written in one booklet, “Sauer”, and he said that someone had mentioned this on the mailing list. We both referred to this and finished off the word together, “kraut”! Then we both fell about laughing! One fan asked him about a new Alphaville album, and Marian said, “Oh come on!” – he meant to give him a chance as ‘Crazyshow’ is only just newly released! But he did say that he has been working on new material and that there will be a new album, and that it will be different again even from ‘Crazyshow’. Other questions were asked, one about the origin of Marian Gold, but it’s hard to remember these when you are just getting used to meeting your idol!

Sadly, time flew by and Marian had to leave us, and he did – in a dressing room full of beer, Red Bull and coke (we’d consumed all the wine!). We took a few pictures of us all being silly in there with wine bottles and then left when Daniela came to lock up the room. We made sure we had the signs from the dressing room door too! Then it was back to the beers and to analysing the concert! At this point we made up the AV.UK fan anthem – “we drink beer, we do!” We also came up with a few more – “Marian Gold knows me, he does!” and “Marian Gold is my mate, he is!” being two. Anyone else and anything else that happened after we met Marian paled into insignificance.

Then Things Started To Go Drastically Wrong Again!
Sun 06 Apr 03 – The “Belgium To Home” Experience

Trying to get a taxi in Lommel is like trying to get a Scotsman to part with his money – joking Trent ;-)! Get this – to get a taxi outside the hall, we had to go to the adjoined police station where an officer had to radio out for a taxi to pick us up! Worse than the buses in Lommel! Anyway, that’s what happened, but did the taxi arrive? What do you think? 2 hours or so later, we decided, after sitting in the fine rain and cold, to go back to the police station and get them to radio again. Just as we did, the taxi arrived! Then WE had to tell THE DRIVER how to get to our hotel! Oh Lommel, we do love you so much! Cold, wet and tired – but deliriously happy – we FINALLY arrived at our hotel. Straight to bed! Chris and I had to leave at 5am for our flight and we only got back at 3am and talked until about 4am! An hour in bed, I thought. I thought wrong. Some Belgian Alphaville fans came back at 4.30am and woke me up from my state of dreams by shouting on the landing – Clare was out of it! Chris knocked on the door at 5am to tell me the taxi we had ordered the night before for 5.15am had arrived 15 MINUTES EARLY (What is it about these taxi drivers in Lommel?)! Chris and I said our goodbyes to Clare and David and headed out to the cold, dark and very far away train station for our train to Brussels. Sitting on the platform at 5.30 on a dark Sunday morning, listening to a cockerel (?) giving it hell, sounding like it was being strangled is something I will find very difficult to forget! When we finally got on the train (all travel plans were organised by Clare to whom great thanks is given as we’d still be sitting somewhere in Lommel waiting for a taxi) , we slept most of the way, only waking on the last train (there were 2 – I think?) to talk briefly about what had happened the night before. Once in Charleroi, we got a taxi (they are plentiful in Brussels, thank god!) from the taxi rank to take us to the airport.

Chris set off the alarms with his lighter (which didn’t like being waved about at the concert!) and had it taken away! I forgot to pack my aerosol into my case, but they let me away with that! Then it was all aboard the flight back to Scotland. Chris caught up on some much needed sleep (I think he did this to avoid my constant ramblings about Marian! Joking!) and I listened to my Alphaville CDs, smiling to myself about the night we met Marian Gold. Everyone on the plane must have thought I’d gone mad – and they’d be right.

Back in Glasgow, Chris gave me a lift back to the train station and we said goodbye. He was so great helping to make my dream become a reality! I got a bite to eat and looked for a train home. Got one – got back to England and looked for a train to my hometown, and found there wasn’t one for 4 hours! 3 hours later (!) I got a lift instead and I finally got home, tired, weak, hungry, elated, ecstatic, happy, oh a million feelings!

It was a great weekend. A short and beautiful weekend. And we went through so much together. But through all the trials and tribulations, the pain and the pleasure and the ecstasy, I made some beautiful new friends and had the best weekend of my entire life.

And we did all this because of one man – Marian Gold!

We love you Marian! Here´s to the next time! Cheers!!!


Review written by Kaz, Pictures by Chris Cowan.

"Alphaville ohne Bernhard ist wie eine Apfelstrudel ohne apfel"
Last edited by Krapplund; 15 Feb 2008 at 15:17.
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