Hamburg, Broke, In a Tour Bus, With a Rock Band
It might have been where the Beatles cut their teeth, but Germany is only now becoming known as one of Europe's premier live music destinations. We asked Luciano Vargas, guitarist in emerging London rock band Dogs, to send us a broadcast from the road.
The Reeperbahn is a mile long and about fifty meters wide and is lined with the seediest of nightspots: sex shops, strip clubs, bars, brothels, weapon stores, adult book shops, clubs and music venues. Hamburg is very famous for it's 'entertainments' but you have to see it to believe it. It's pretty mind blowing in the flesh. Indeed, flesh is one of the big reasons for coming here; the city has a world famous red light district. This, though, is not why we are here. Honest.
||You could imagine German officers with busty Frauleins on their knees and frothy beers singing folk songs.
We are following in the footsteps of the most famous band on earth and what better place to start our tour than the one time home of The Beatles. Hamburg. Back in the early sixties, The Beatles were paying their dues, cutting their teeth, playing up to three shows a day. Our tour manager poignantly points out the police station in which Stuart Sutcliffe, the Beatles' original bassist, died of a brain haemorrhage. The Beatles boys quickly became men and it is Hamburg that staged the transition. You can't be a band here and not feel inspired.
The first time we played in Hamburg was on a Rolling Stone magazine tour with Keane, the favourite band of the English Housewife, and Soundtrack Of Our Lives, the Swedish prog-rock old timers. A bizarre, but strangely popular combination. We played the 'Prinzenbar' on the Reeperbahn, which holds about 1500 people. There were only two dressing rooms and three bands. Being the opening act, we were left without.
But we have a habit of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat and a little pressure applied in the right areas resulted in the back bar being opened for our use as a dressing room. What a spectacle. It was about forty foot squared and on many levels with beautifully detailed railings running along all sections. Behind the small bar area was a huge mirror, slightly warped under its own weight that gave the feel of a prop in a gothic fairy tale. It looked unchanged in fifty or sixty years. You could imagine German officers with busty Frauleins on their knees and frothy beers singing folk songs.
Tonight's gig is in Molotov, also on the Reeperbahn, a few doors down from Prinzenbar. This is a much smaller venue, fitting about 300 people. It's the sort of venue that other bands like to visit for raucous after-show parties.
After a very successful show we are joined by three other British bands playing Hamburg that night, Chikinki, Neil's Children and The Klaxons. In Hamburg it is very difficult to go to bed early and things always take a turn for the peculiar. Tonight is no different. We finish the night roaring drunk and playing plastic darts, then stagger home through the biggest and most spectacular fun fair we have ever seen.
So ends day one, and with it all plans to take it easy at the start of the tour. Tomorrow, Munster, but in Germany all roads lead to Berlin.
To hear Dogs' music visit www.myspace.com/dogsmusicspace