The band’s 2019 tour is started by a gig at the Mälze in Regensburg. We play there every year and have done for the last twenty something. It’s different from all other dates for two reasons: the venue has well known bands and, because it’s Fasching, Now Fasching is a strange phenomenon in Germany, it starts on 11.11 at 11.11am and finishes promptly at midnight on Shrove Tuesday, everyone has a sort of forced happiness and wanders around wearing Thunderbirds hats.
My wife hates Fasching. She really doesn’t like it. But a lot of people do, people who we know so she sort of has to come. I am not insisting, but she will struggle to find a face-saving way to avoid doing so.
“How am I even supposed to get there?” she asks the day before.
“Well Andrea is going, you could go with her,” I say. “Then…”
“And what time are you actually on?” she says.
“About nine,” I say. “But be a bit early, because it will get busy.”
“Yeah, right,” she says.
“It will,” I say. “It’s sold out.”
“Is it?” she says.
I shrug: I am not entirely sure about this.
“I still have one unused guest list spot, if you know anyone.”
“Perhaps your son would like to come,” she says, pointing to the oldest one, who is sitting at the kitchen table staring at his phone.
“I’m good, thanks,” he says, without looking up.
The next afternoon, I set out for the venue in good time to help set up, but when I walk in, things are mostly done. The band is already there. We do a sound check. There are still hours to go before show time.
Alarm bells suddenly ring out with an earsplitting intensity that puts the sound check volume very decisively in the shade.
Wolfgang had opened one of the emergency exit doors by mistake. He looked decidedly pale, thinking of the 4000€ fine for falsely setting off a fire alarm. He ran for the telephone and tried to cancel the already on the way fire brigade and police. Too late.
2 minutes later they were at the front door. Luckily the boys were in a good mood and let him off.
Sigh of relief.
At 6pm, Stefan starts setting up the cameras for tonight (we’re filming a video) around the perimeter of the stage.
“I’m going to tell him not to show my double chin,” Martin says. “It’s ridiculous.”
“Yeah,” I say, but I secretly think: I like it. When I look out a few minutes later, Martin is helping the man put the cameras into place.
At 7.30pm, the venue is still empty. I return to the dressing room. “Are you sure there are people coming?” I ask.
“Apparently,” Everyone says.
“There’s a huge queue outside,” someone says.
“A queue?” I say. I try to picture my wife standing in a queue.
There are no wings at Mälze – the dressing room is set back through a corridor, so when you open the dressing room door, you have to go past the toilets through the hall and onto the stage. When we do this at nine o’clock on the dot, we are greeted with a roar from the room that causes me to rock back on my heels a little. I don’t think there was this many people last year. Here, every head is facing in our direction. None of them dressed normally, which is always a bit unsettling.
3 hours go by in a flash.
After the last encore and a brief retreat to the dressing room, the rest of the band heads off talk to the audience. I lag behind for a bit, trying to process the previous 180 minutes. A triumph, I decide.
By the time I step back out on to the stage, the room is nearly empty again. My wife is standing alone at the bar, looking up at me.
“That was boring,” she says.
“You don’t really care for music, do you?” I say.
“I do,” she says. “Who were all those people?”
“Fans,” I say.
Twenty minutes later, I run into my wife again near the exit, where she is talking with the wives of other band members.
“I’m looking forward to the wives’ leg of the tour,” she says.
“You can’t come on that,” I say.
“Why not?” she says. “The other wives are going.”
“The other wives come to gigs all the time,” I say. “You never come.”
“It sounds like fun,” she says.
“It’s four nights on the trot,” I say. “You’ll hate it.”
“I’ve always wanted to go to Mitterbickl,” she says.
“You’re lying,” I say.
“I’m definitely coming,” she says.