Not ones normally to bang on about the day-to-day proceedings of all things Mirrors, our recent tour supporting Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark was such a great journey that here, in two parts, is an unashamed tour diary documenting some of the highlights...
Folkstone: Helpfully guided by a large sign reading FRANCE, we drive gingerly into "le shuttle", and are conveyed under the sea to the continent in a ludicrously short period of time.
Calais: Lingering for a while at a service station sipping coffee and what have we? We Have Band. Of all the bands to run into in a Calais service station, it happens to be the exact band Mirrors are playing a couple of shows with upon our return to England. What a small world. Don't mention how much we are looking forward to the plummet in audience numbers, catering facilities and standards of monitoring awaiting us when we eventually re-unite.
Cologne: Arrive shrouded in rain and darkness, tired, only to find our lodgings closed, dim and distinctly empty-looking. Finally on getting through to the owners we are let in. Hilarious confusion ensues due communication problems arising from the fact that the owners are two Chinese men with limited grasp of both German and English. Despite their being lovely blokes, we are glad for the eventual calm when we are let into the rooms. Room calm seems nice for a minute of two before we all decide bar-calm might be better, and head out in search of a premises. It doesn't take long, and before long we are lined up along a bar calmly sipping ridiculously refreshing, tiny, Cologne-style beers. Moving on, we stumble across a little gem of an establishment down a short flight of nine steps from the street. Many more tiny little beers. The barman is a fine fellow, and you would never believe he is seventy years old. Before the war, he told us, his bar was a climb of two steps up from the street. The post-war buildings around it were thus rebuilt upon 11 steps' worth of Bomber Harris' rubble, and the entrance has had to be dug down to to be reached. A sobering thought, regardless of any amount of tiny little beers.
Cologne Day 2: Freezing cold is the air, and the walk across the bridge from the hotel provides us with red ears for the day. Today is the eleventh of November, and it happens to be Cologne's carnival day. The city is mayhem by eleven o' clock in the morning. Drunken revelers dressed in fancy-dress crowd the streets and the squares, singing hymns to the city and dancing like loons. It is quite a contrast to what we know is happening in London at the same time. The people of Cologne certainly know how to party.
Cologne's colossal cathedral is an astounding building. From the ground, staring up at it's heights it appears as a vast black cliff face, its gothic buttresses like mountain crags. I half-expect to see eagles circling its peak. Its hushed interior is a welcome oasis of calm away from the carnage outside, but eventually we climb the seemingly endless thin, winding staircase to the top. Our pathetically fatigued legs feel like clay. It takes forever, though passing the world's largest bell on the way up broke the journey. From the top, the most amazing spectacle is not that of the city-scape spread out before you, but the sight, looking back down, of the black, gargoyle-encrusted shards of masonry disappearing back down into the roof of the main cathedral. The sound, muffled and distant at this height, of the bustling city below is bizarre, like a dream of parties.
Later, we are excitable, apprehensive. The crowd is filling up quickly and we can sense they are full of anticipation. A welcome change. The show goes like a dream, and we play well, especially for the tour's first gig. The reaction is so positive, so enthusiastic, we are so pleased. Big stage, big sound; that is what our sound is designed for. OMD are lovely blokes. They tell us Wolfgang Fleur was present tonight. A good day. To celebrate we head into Cologne's beer bottle-strewn streets in search of revelry, but everybody else is by this stage of the night so drunk that we have no hope of catching up. Probably for the best. Meet some incredible folk in a bar, resulting in a particularly wonderful photograph:
Hanover: It's a good thing for the duration of this diary that we don't see enough of some of the cities visited that I can't often write for as long as I did about Cologne. We see very little of Hanover, unfortunately, but once again, the gig is wonderful. Being cynical capitalist entrepreneurs we are selling our limited edition tour CD for ten euros but it is proving much more popular than we had accounted for so what are you going to do? By the way, OMD's tour is sponsored by Panasonic, who provide them with led lights, and during soundcheck, various "customers" get to stand awkwardly on stage with their idols, soaking up the lovely monitor mix. They are great monitors though, I have to say.
Leipzig: Breakfast today is a bockwurst mit brot . Dipped in the mildy piquant german mustard and bitten, this particular sausage pops satisfyingly in the mouth. It is remarkably fortifying as a roadside breakfast eaten standing up in the cold. Others have currywurst, which in this situation at least is a sausage coated in a cinnamon tinged curry sauce with a weirdly synthetic, fruity taste, and sprinkled with curry powder to finish.
An archetypal Currywurst.
Leipzig is behind what used to be the Iron Curtain, and as such is an example of the economic gap that largely still exists between Eastern Germany and its Western counterpart. It is run down and we see much dereliction. The air is grey, drizzly.
The venue is huge, and they pack in 3000 people (over capacity), all of whom are hugely enthused to watch Mirrors. It is a wonderful feeling to occasionally avert one's eyes from one's synth and stare enigmatically at thousands of people beaming back at one.
Post gig, we return to our accomodation on the edge of town, The Eros City gentleman's night club grimly glowing though the drizzle from across the roundabout...
Nurenburg: Day off. Nurenburg boasts a well preserved, beautiful mediaeval city-centre, we find out today. A long walk through its winding, hilly streets, bathed as they were in rare German autumn sunshine, was followed by another that evening, and dinner. Find a warm bar serving large frothing beers in glazed clay mugs, which keep the beer at a perfect temperature, even 'til the dregs.
A part of Nurenburg's disturbingly violent fountain.
A frothing Nurenburg beer.
Stuttgart: Yesterday's weather was a glorious blip. Today sees a return to rain, and as the grey miasma that lifts from the back of the juggernauts blasting down the autobahn hits our windscreen, the rumbling wheels, the whistling wind and the faint ghost of music trickling from the stereo sends us all to sleep. All except Stu, our driver, I can only assume, as we make it to Stuttgart safe and well. Thanks Stu.
Have a grilled variety of wurst in the services today - not as good as the preferred poached bockwurst. And the accompanying fried potatoes make for an overly greasy meal, far from satisfying. No amount of delicious beige German mustard can perk it up, and I crave a boiled egg and soldiers with a pot of strong tea.
Tonight's show is proclaimed as the best so far by James and Ally, and the worst by Jo. For me, it flits between tight, electric zones of greatness, and moments of slack nothingness. Still, the reaction is wonderful again from a crowd for the first time not quite filled to capacity.
Munich: There is snow in the air as we make our way through the hillier areas towards Munich. Unfortunately, we do not see any of this apparently proud city to speak of, which is a shame. The venue is in a kind of huge converted industrial complex. It takes an age to find the load-in, but it gives us plenty of time to admire the impressive array of graffiti. The damp air is bitingly cold.
Tonight's performance is being recorded for posterity. It is probably the knowledge of this that negatively affects our reasonably poor performance. I cannot get into the right mind-set. Despite this, the sound is actually much improved, apparently, by the new set up required for the recording. So in this respect, there is gladness.
After the gig Ally cracks open a bottle of dangerously nice vodka. The night ends in McDonald's, proclaimed by Ally as "better than Le Gavroche". Not good.