Die Toten Hosen

A very VERY good friend of mine convinced me to take a trip to Germany with her (Bochum, to be precise, near Düsseldorf ) to see this band she is fond of. The band’s called ‘Die Toten Hosen’ which literally translates as ‘the dead trousers’ and is an idiom used in German to mean boring, or nothing going on, it’s often translated as ‘the dead beats’.

I imagine most people reading this blog don’t know much about this band (actually, almost all the people reading this are friends and family, so I’m sure you do). Anyway, here’s some basic background info on these guys: They formed in 1882. Did I say 1882? I meant 1982. Either way, these guys are OLD. The Rt Honorable Scroobius Pip was celebrating his first birthday just as the band new ancients were forming a band. O-L-D. They’re from Düsseldorf, which, as a city is pretty obsessed with them. To see them play in Bochum is like going to see the Arctic Monkeys in Rotherham.

The lead singer is called Campino, after those sweets that people eat. Other current members are Andi, Breiti, Kuddel and Vom. Vom’s the drummer. He’s also English, and undoubtedly the best. (Please note the latter has nothing to do with the former two). Though some people would disagree, and to those people all I say is this.

Anywho, we left on Sunday night, and traveled by coach, that’s right, COACH, to Düsseldorf (which took about 14 hours, but after spending my summer traveling to and from Edinburgh, it wasn’t too bad). Also, we were both quite hyper for a large portion of the journey, which also helped.

We got into Düsseldorf at about 9ish, and from there headed straight to Bochum, and the venue. By the time we got there it was 3, still a good five hours before the gig. DTH being as big as they are, we weren’t the first people there, which was unsurprising.

I feel like I need to establish how big these guys are. They easily sell out stadiums in Germany, we’re talking Wembley stadium size, or the O2 arena (née the Millennium Dome) size, filled with ease. So, when we were let inside, and saw that the venue only had a capacity of 1000 (in comparison Wembley is about 90,000 – which is half the population of the Isle of Wight), we were astounded. It also had a second level, a balcony in an L shape. The balcony ended by the front of the stage, which meant us punters had a brilliant unhindered view of the stage.

The gig itself was enjoyable, though I moved from the front to the balcony after the fifth song, as I was a little mosh-pit-y. They opened with Strom, which was a strong start, and they kept the energy levels up for the whole gig (even if I didn’t). As it was a small gig, and only a warm up, it seemed to be a lot more intimate and friendly than they would have been on a bigger stage. I think it helped that about a quarter of the audience were friends with the band.

Their set contain a mixture of new hits, old classics, and some pieces that are rarely sung. Throughout the set they were bullied into singing songs they hadn’t sung in years, Campino even had to read from his Lyric Book Of All Knowledge for a couple. As well as deviating largely from the set-list to appease the fans, they kept the gig intimate and personal by retelling stories, venting out opinions that may have caused friction with a wider audience, and of course, joking around on stage.

Given their age, they are still a very fit band. Campino crowd surfed a couple of times, and once ended up balancing precariously on an air-conditioning unit that was attached to the balcony. He sung a couple of songs, before jumping into the crowd below, and then got back on stage.

It was a pleasure to watch these guys on stage, they’ve been together for a couple of decades now, and the fact they can still interact so well with their fans, climb all over a venue (whilst singing) and enjoy themselves so much on stage is incredible, and it makes them a joy to watch. I can quite understand why people become considerably obsessed with these guys.

The Photos are mostly from Bochum – but I have snuck one or two in from a big gig in Berlin, which was no where near as fun as this one.

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Tall Tales

On the last Wednesday of every other month there is a comedy/story telling event in Kilburn, called ‘Tall Tales’. I first head about this via the John Finnemore fandom last year. Since then, I’ve tried to go to every show, as it’s been thoroughly enjoyable every time.

For those who don’t know, Finnemore is a radio comedy writer. He’s the brains behind the hit sit-com, ‘Cabin Pressure‘ (which is ending this Christmas…I don’t think a radio show has made me this emotional since the finale of Bleak Expectations in 2012).  Finnemore has his own sketch show on BBC, ‘John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme‘, which you could probably  still catch on iplayer if you’re quick. As well as his own shows he has written for ‘That Mitchell and Webb Sound’ (the radio -and orginal – version of ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’)  ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’ (the the TV version of ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’), ‘The Now Show’ ‘Miranda’ (as well as acting in it) and other radio shows (probably).

Finnemore goes to most of the Tall Tales nights, except when he’s traveling round Europe on a bike, which seems to be a common habit of his. As well as Finnemore, there are a number of other brilliantly funny people that regularly come to Tall Tales. The host is a guy called Robert Hudson. Robert starts every show by taking to the stage, introducing the guests, and telling a story. However, the first few times I went I fell into his trap. He starts each story so seamlessly, for the first half, you don’t realise it’s a story, you just think it’s a strange anecdote he’s telling, until, invariably, he mentions something so implausible you realise you’ve been duped. Robert is a marvelous story-teller, and I can see why he started the night.

As well as the two mentioned above, there are other regular guest. One of my favorite is Gareth Edwards (and not just because he was the producer of Bleak Expectations. Well, maybe a bit because of that). Edwards does something different every time, but the last couple of times I’ve seen him he’s told us a story about his young son, both of which have been very funny and believable.

What I’m trying to say in this post, is if you live in or around London, are a fan of comedy – especially radio comedy – you should make the effort to go to one of these shows. Most of the material is still in the baby steps, some will make it on air, in a polished version, and some won’t. Either way it’s good place to be.

Here are some photos I’ve collected over the months:

Some Bad Photos

I’m now quite behind on this blog, but I don’t think anyone’s reading, so that’s ok. And if you are reading, you probably don’t know my calender, so I’ll pretend this is a recent gig. One better, I’ll pretend this is a gig from the future.

In the future, I will go to Scroobius Pip’s tour at the Nest in London.

Ok, let’s not do that. On with the actual review/whatever the hell this blog is.

The venue was fine, not the best one I’ve been to. Ok,  I’ve only been to one gig there, and I have a feeling the atmosphere is a lot better if it’s packed out. Unfortunately, though there were people, it wasn’t teeming, which was a shame. The gig I went to was an extra date, added ‘cos the first one sold out.

The gig itself was fine, but not the best Pip gig I’ve been to. Though, that was the 24th time I’ve seen Pip, so ya’know. It was pretty cool, because it wasn’t really a Pip show, it was a Speech Development Records tour, (Pip’s label). So there were loads of guests, and Pip was essentially just hosting.

The first guest was PolarBear, an amazing spoken word artist, from Birmingham. What I love about his work, as well as the content, is the delivery. Polarbear’s inspiration seems to come from a lot of hip-hop, and when he speaks, you can hear the rhythm echo those hip-hop roots. This melded with intricate and personal lyrics, and a distinctive brummie accent, you have one spine-tingling poet.

Warrenpeace were the next act. Made up of hip-hop producer and DJ, Buddy Peace, and guitarist/producer/genral cool guy Warren Borg, or as he’s often known, ‘Worgie’. Over the summer these guys released their single ‘Hungry‘ (and I was totally in the video, but that’s beside the point (it’s really not)), and then dropped their album later in the year. Their music is dirty, guitar-y, and kinda heavy. A good band to see live.

The ‘headliner’ in this talented, musical event thing, was a guy called B.Dolan. B is known primarily as a rapper/spoken word artist. His music deals with a range of subjects, from the death of Russell Jones (Ol’ Dirty Bastrd, one of the founding members of the Wu Tang Clan) to Agoraphobia, to police brutality. The last one brings us onto one of B’s other passions. He’s also an activist, and co-founder the site knowmore.org, a site that tells consumers social responsibility information about corporations. He is passionate about a range of issues, and was recently interviewed by Russell Brand on the ‘Trews‘. This episode is well worth a watch even if you’re not a fan of Brand.

The evening itself was pretty good, as mentioned above, it wasn’t my favorite Pip-esque night, but it was fun. I do have a bit of a confession about the photos though. This gig was almost straight after Billy Idol, where I managed to get some pretty decent photos, thanks to the brilliant lighting. However, one thing The Nest doesn’t have is great lights. They essentially had two small red lights, one ultra violet light, and a blue light *shudders*. So, all the photos came out terrible. This is why I’ve uploaded a compilation of photos of the bands mentioned above from other events – most of the photos are from Pip and Polarbear’s (and Kate Tempest) spoken word set at Camp Bestival, the others are from Bestival and Pip’s solo album tour in 2011. Hope you enjoy ’em.