A Night in Regensburg


The famous five drove through the steadily darkening streets of the old town, ever watchful of the lengthening shadows and what might be hiding within. After a certain amount of confusion with regards to the date and time of the gig, it was all going smoothly. It had started months before when Mike was approached by a grizzled figure sporting a duelling scar down his left cheek: would the jolly little combo Midlife Crisis Ltd like to play at their motorcycle soiree that they held every year. There was promise of lashings of ginger beer and scrumpious munchies. How could Mike refuse, he seemed like a decent sort of chap, the type that one would like to engage in a few overs of cricket after a vigorous swim.

Mike arrived at the venue a few minutes before the others and had a swift look around. Could it really be here? The hall had obviously seen better days, the facade being slightly rundown and the paint peeling from the railings, it didn’t reassure Mike. Where was the ginger beer? The others rolled into the carpark after taking the scenic route, damn those new fangled sat nav things. Fuzz was an old fashioned guy who felt more at home in the analogue world. There was nothing that he liked better than to have an invigorating bike ride with only an ordinance survey map for company.

‘By jimminy jingo, is this the right place? ’, enquired big Martin, who got his nickname because he was, well, big.

‘I think it must be’ said Wolfie, Hawaian shirt, strangely absent from his attire. Were those leather trousers?

They went sheepishly into the building, the smell of fear and sweat was overwhealming, and as they came around the corner the sight that greeted them sent a shiver down their spines. It was horrible.

Who was that ugly and vile group of apparitions staring at them with malevelence?

‘Wait a moment’, said Andi. ‘that’s a mirror’. wow, what a mirror! They could admire themselves whilst they played. Wouldn’t that be spiffing, what a jolly jape.

‘I think we should cover it up with this handy banner that I just happen to have with me’, said Fuzz. ’My mom has ironed it specially’.

A darkened figure emerged from out of the gloom clutching what looked like a gun. The band tried to take cover and hide under the nearest objects they could find.

‘Would you like to use my rechargeable screwdriver to hang up your freshly ironed banner’, said the figure.

Phew! That was close.

After setting up all of the equipment, they were all getting extremely hungry.

‘I’m looking forward to all of these scrumpious munchies’, said Fuzz.’ I haven’t eaten anything for half an hour’.

‘We should be careful’, muttered Mike. ‘I’ve just seen something that looks like, well, a willy covered in tomato sauce. I’m not too sure I want to touch that!’.

‘Don’t be such a scaredy cat, I’m going to have that schnitzelly thing’, chirupped Andi.

There was still the matter of the ginger beer. Mike crept cautiously up to the bar, avoiding the penetraing gazes of the growing crowd.

‘ I say, my good man. My I have one of your delicious ginger beers, very refreshing and nutritious. The drink that pleases, but doesn’t inebriate’.

‘Was woillst?’.

Damn, Mike had forgotten. He lived in Germany.

‘We should start’, said Wolfgang.

‘Noone will dance, anyway. I’ve been assured of that.’ said Mike gloomily.

But, Mike was proved wrong. The evening turned into a riproaring success, with all of the mean biker gang hopping and bopping to sounds of the beat combo. Another close call for the famous five.

It hadn’t been bad at all,

They packed up all of their stuff with a lightness and spring in their step. They would definately come back. There was only one thing missing………..no ginger beer!

The Mälze 2019


20190305_184515[1]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.


The End of the Year

The End of the year

Well, we’ve nearly made it through another year of Brexit related bollocks to finally arrive at the December – I think it’s still called that .

Even in the office they’ve joined in the political correctness madness and instead of the Xmas (X is in the place of Christ!) piss-up, we are now attending the ‘years end party’. The result is still the same, everyone trying to avoid drinking the ‘Zirbenschnaps’ that the boss is trying to press on everyone. It really does smell like some kind of urinal cleaner. Probably tastes like it too.

Midlife Crisis are also kicking out the jams with festive fun and are meeting up to plan our conquest of Europe (excluding Britain, of course who have decided to strike trade deals with the outer Aleutian islands instead – a much better prospect).All this needs to be minutely planned. Starting off in the lower palatinate and spreading like an itchy rash over the state of Bavaria finally arriving back at the same table next year to plan our conquest of Europe before a large part of the band decide to retire to the island of saint Martinique with the accumulated millions that have been earned from 30 years of slogging around the pubs and clubs. Yes, that’s exactly what it’s like. It’s not all sex and drugs and rock’ n roll you know. Actually there’s only one third of that saying left over. I’ll leave it to you to work out which bit.

It’s been a good year. We started in Schwarzenfeld (see blog) and finished at a wedding, with various ports of call in between. I’ve enjoyed each and every gig this year, each one had its own character and that’s why a years end review and party is useful to put things in perspective, look back and contemplate that things aren’t as bad as they seem – we can survive anything – even Trump!

Merry Christmas, may your god go with you and we’ll see you all again in 2019!

Alte Mälze – Regensburg 13.02.2018

Who wants to break free? Almost twenty-five years after they first played at the Mälze in Regensburg on ‘Faschingsdienstag’ , Midlife Crisis ltd seem have given their best shot for this occasion. Faded, bored: not a sign of it.

Two decades ago, with a different line-up entirely, their live show was a depressingly blokey and homely affair. But their current reincarnation feels more in tune with the show, for its end of Fasching feeling and youthful turbo-glam seventies attitude. Dynamic on the guitar and flamboyant with the between song banter, Wolfgang Haarer makes a superb mc, one minute telling a joke, the next cajoling a willing audience into mesmeric chant of ‘we want sweet’ before the well-oiled (in every sense of the word) band launch into a rousing version of ‘Love is like Oxygen’. More importantly, he can still muster the swashbuckling gitarrero posing and tight-trousered showmanship that these ageless anthems demand. But he’s not the only weapon of mass seduction. The shed builder that supports the whole construction and keeps it on the fine line between self-parodying ‘Schlager’ and a good kick in the balls rock night, is Andi Gmeinwieser. The newbie in the band, he displays an envious grasp of beat gymnastics to keep the whole ship afloat. But………

Who wants to break free? That was the newly cobbled together intro for the evening, put together by the man with twelve fingers on the ivories, Martin Wirthensohn. WTF? Darkness, and then the sounds of a hybrid ‘Captain Future’ theme overlaid with Neil Armstrong’s immortal lines. Blam! Lights,action. Then comes Queen’s paean to freedom, the floor immediately full with a black sea of dancers, the audience a mixture of regulars and freshers dressed as pirates, witches and hippies looking for the last kick before diving headlong into the melancholy of ash Wednesday at the stroke of midnight.

Three and a half hours later and, in what seems like the blink of an eye, it’s all over. The five sweat encrusted musos take their well-earned rest and head back to the awaiting oxygen tents at the rear, looking back on a gig that will stay in the memory for a long time – the perfect blend of a band enjoying being there to play, and a crowd that wanted them to.

The fiftieth birthday – The Raven Straubing 20.01.2018

Tonight Midlife Crisis ltd played their second January gig in The Raven in Straubing, a rock club that you find all too seldom these days. The entrance is hidden away in a small and uninviting alley, that leads into a small bar and bistro area. But, if you are courageous enough to carry on you come into a much larger space, in what looks like it was earlier used as a warehouse. Everything looks half finished, the drapes on the stage are hanging down, all of the chairs have been gathered from various charity shops over the years. But, and it is a big but, the place has atmosphere and character that is sadly missing from a lot of venues.

Why were we there? It was a fiftieth birthday party of a fellow musician and we were invited to play. Fuzz made a notable first impression by entering the arena on his face after failing to notice a small, but not unimportant step that took him by surprise. This incident then inevitably became the running gag of the eveing ‘Fuzz, mind the step’.

Nori and co. Played a likeable and able blend of Mississippi acoustic blues, with the highlight of ACDC’s ‘she’s got the Jack’. The audience singing heartily without ever understanding the veneareal background of the song.

There was a pivotal moment in the evening, when the packed audience, saw Christian, the birthday boy perform with his band Blues Control and experienced a barnstorming version of ‘all along the watchtower’. this broke the ice on a hitherto restained crowd. After that there was no holding back. How would we go down? This was obviously Blues country. We needn’t have worried.

From the opening chords of ‘Hungry heart’ the audience were pumped and bounced along to the entire set. Old favourites combined with a sprinkling a new songs, ‘My Sharona’ being a standout, produced an electric, sweaty and altogether feelgood performance that left both audience and band drained. A final encore of ‘We are the Champions’ and that was it. Hometime through the steadily worsening weather.

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