Looking already back to the last year I cannot believe how many wonders it has brought and summarizing it I am referring to it already as my Bucket List Year (a concept subconsciously driven by Brexit?). A lot of things have been seen and experienced I wanted to do for a long time and realised I was not sure at what point I even forgot thinking “just do it” and having had to discipline myself to be more spontaneous. Let me share some highlights…
Going to New York City in January for the very first time was a real highlight and queuing on a Saturday afternoon at Time Square to pick an afternoon show and then finally ending up seeing Avenue Q on the concrete underground New Worlds Stage between the Broadway and Hell’s Kitchen was an adventure my 9-year-old self back in Hamburg would have been proud of – not all songs stuck in your head afterwards should be sung out loud on the trains though. Do not be fooled by the muppet-style puppetry, the script makes the South Park crew look like pre-schoolers.
Being still semi-jet lagged after my return my metal buddy and I kicked off the season by waving goodbye to Black Sabbath at their last concert ever outside their native Birmingham – it was charmingly old school and the audience as well; the endless queue for the gentlemen’s toilet (for once not the ladies’) was good for a couple of laughs as well. We wondered who we will wave goodbye to when we are grandparents.
Then there was an Immersive Music event in North London on Kate Bush’s timeless masterpiece Hounds of Love, including a Wuthering Heights karaoke machine (I did not dare) and a cover band – very brave considering Kate Bush finally gave concerts only again in 2014 after having taken a legendary break from performing concerts of 35 years. The evening brought memories back from Kate Bush’s actual concert series Before The Dawn in Hammersmith I was privileged enough to experience but the Secret Location strategy is not practical for those not living in central Central London.
I was shortly afterwards treated to see the real, actual KISS – under the obligation of joining to wear the makeup. Leaving the office with the makeup on and getting on the underground with it was good fun indeed. The audience spanned all ages between 8 and 88 (unless you know better) and I never experienced glam rock glitterier and closer. Visiting a big gig in a big arena just after the Manchester bombings gave initially mixed feelings – but the bag search in Greenwich was well organised and everyone behaved well.
Similar positive was our arrival at Depeche Mode in the Olympic Queen Elizabeth Stadium only a few days later. We were far away from the stage but the outstanding sound quality still made everyone get up and dance on their seats as they played a well balanced mix of the new album, old classics and rarer gems. I am sure they would have played more encores had the evening not been totally ruined by the terror attacks in London Bridge that very evening. We got finally home, picking up only bits of information from the network on a very nervous journey, thought of the victims and their families and spent the next day still shocked watching footage of people being stuck in beer cellars all night in Borough Market.
A couple of days later Depeche Mode added some more London dates in autumn to their Global Spirit Tour and we immediately booked again to not having a lifelong love for their music and synth in general being erased by some lonely coward. We did not regret this.
When a friend from the old college days was visiting from Berlin we found The London Improv Theatre above a pub in Finchley Road – both of us did Improv in drama class but I had never actually been in the audience. We left with me holding an award for the best heckle of the evening: “Wrong name on the wedding cake”.
And then I saw Hair with a show so inspiring in Waterloo’s The Vaults this blog was almost named it-cannot-always-be-hair.com and I beg everyone to go and see it. The crew so deserves it! Hair turned 50 in 2017 and there are whole family legends about its German performance in Flensburg in the maybe-not-so-swinging-60s. The theatre group is from Manchester and made me so endlessly happy I can only repeat what my friend said who I had dragged along: “I want to go on stage and join in”. Will we manage to see it again in the first half of January?
For a long time on my agenda was a concert by Alice Cooper and this year I finally went in Wembley, summing up the metal year. No full make up this time unless you were Alice himself. If I am as agile as him at his age I will be thankful. He jumps around the stage like a ballerina and provided all the props you were expecting: The dressing up box, Frankenstein, the guillotine, the fireworks. I thought the tickets to be reasonably priced and discovered The Mission who supported Alice.
A trip to the Royal Albert Hall should be paid by any Londoner annually (I am on a three-year strike) and this time we picked 2Cellos from Croatia. Did they rock! I did not expect an orchestra to join and was surprised by a singer to start the evening with, but the real star seemed the drummer they brought along. We had a fantastic time and I felt the relatively cheap tickets up high made us appreciate the complimenting light show even more.
Two tickets for Big Fish I purchased the minute I heard it was not only made into a musical but would come to London towards the end of the year. Big Fish is by far my favourite Tim Burton film and I had to stop reading reviews of the show very early – they very horrific. But I had seriously a great time, the actors got standing ovations and I saw and heard some other members of the audience giving up fighting the tears. Looks like we experienced a different night at The Other Palace near Victoria station. Maybe those critics did not sit in the front row. Even though there was no particular song stuck in my had afterwards the cast gave the story the warmth it deserves, and I have finally reserved the novel by Daniel Wallace already in the library.
And then – just before the year ended – I spontaneously booked the panto Sleeping Beauty in Theatre Royal Windsor for the next day. Having only experiences panto through the TV documentary 7 Dwarves a couple of years back and having been put off by the loud take on the sacred Brothers Grimm fairy tales I actually thought that singing Wham!’s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go was an excellent closing number for Sleeping Beauty and would have not been misplaced in the Shrek films as well.
Now, there are a couple of events scheduled for 2018 already – I look forward to see Franz Ferdinand and Björk finally again who made me both visit the Melt!-Festival in Ferropolis ten years ago. Some round black ears, white masks and dark thoughts about Hans-Christian Andersen are further scheduled. Will I finally get to know someone who has seen the Harry Potter play? Or Hamilton?
Whatever else will happen I aim never to forget how to be enchanted and amazed, appreciating everything inspiring.
Happy new year!