Köln for the first time, Justin Hayward and “Germany With a Soul”
It was a good month that passed doing what I usually do in Luxembourg for the last eight months, raising my kids, studying whatever I find interesting, drawing, writing, listening to music and doing all kind of sports, but still, it is the time where I spend most of it alone.
The day which I was waiting for, the concert of Justin Hayward in the city of Köln, Germany and arrival of my identical twin brother Kristjan, it couldn’t get better then that.
I got the kids ready, checked all the stuff, said to myself “Ok, I have everything” and dropped the kids to school and kindergarten or creche, how they would call it in Luxembourg.
In the matter of minutes I was on a highway, driving my 217 km route through the wonderful landscapes of Luxembourg and Germany.
A called my brother briefly and told him that I am on my way, GPS was showing another 1 hour to Köln, when suddenly a weird sensation crossed my head and I asked myself if I did take the concert tickets. I shortly replied to myself “I must’ve had”, when in a split second another voice in my head sail “Shit you did!”. Momentarily I could feel my pupil expand and shrink followed the slight pressure in my head, “they” would probably call it an anxiety attack. Quickly I have calculated the cost of the card and decided that I am driving back to pick them up, called my brother again, who was already sightseeing in Köln, he answered and immediately asked me “You forgot the tickets, right?” After a couple of loughs I turned around and went to prolong my driving for another 200 km.
I didn’t want to push my family’s Mazda 5 as she was due for the service next week, after the DPF filter was blinking for more then 10 days, but with a regular oil check I decided to go and test my luck, which I am still testing while I am writing this story in the hotel room in Aachen.
A great start of the journey! But nothing could spoil the good mood I was in.
To make the long drive short, instead around noon, I was in Köln around 03:00 p.m., met my brother and went to his hotel room for a tea and to relax a little bit. Kristjan was already walking since morning around the city and I was driving from 08:00 a.m.. A coup of tea, lying only in boxers a brotherly chit chat came in like a treat.
The evening came fast, it was already around 06:00 p.m. and the concert was starting at 08:00 p.m. We came out for a dinner before the concert and finally I could notice the city.
The Dom, cathedral of St. Peter and Maria which took more than 600 years to built was just imposing from almost every corner we did find ourselves. It almost seemed alien from time to time to look at, leaving a very strong sensations and admiration.
We went for a quick bite and found a nice terrace on a very nice little square “Alter Markt”. I don’t really remember the name of the restaurant, but it was more like a traditional pub on the corner of the square. We have ordered 250g of Argentinean beef and a local beer. We were quite surprised when the beer came as they were poured in a small baby glasses and after a couple of loughs with the waitress we did find out that this is the tradition in the area and that she will have them coming when she notice that we have ours empty. She didn't have to work too much when it comes to beer as both me and my brother are on the sobriety path, after years and years of the almost professional inebriation path.
I do joke from time to time that I stopped drinking as if diplomas would be available, I would have a dissertation ready, so nothing further left to explore there.
When the food was ready, I looked at it with admiration. The 250g steak, left me wondering for a while and I said to my brother “Damn, they sell us those as 500g steaks back home, hahahah!” We had a lovely dinner, a top quality meat and a great atmosphere there. It was time to leave, so I asked our waiter for a bill. She was a tiny women, but immediately you could notice that years and years of experience left her, well, experienced. Because of the good service I did left quite a generous tip and here reaction was:
I never say no to money — said the waitress
Neither do I — I answered, and continued… I say bye, bye to it!
She never said thanks, we said farewell with a nice lough and headed off for the concert.
Of course we managed to get in front of the wrong hall, as there are two in a very close distance, but thinking that Justin Hayward was a lead singer and a song writer in the famous The Moody Blues, we did expect that it will be a big concert. It was weird that there were no people around the hall, but some security was there and when we asked for the concert, they looked at us most surprised and asked us “Here? Today?” We showed the tickets and again, with a couple of loughs, they pointed us the way to the neighboring hall, maybe 100 m away. It is funny, you have to make a mistake or mention something they would consider stupid to make Germans lough, but I won’t generalize any further, it is just for those that we have met.
After 100 m, we could see a small hall, which did not show any signs of life as well as the one before, but the posters for the concert did tell us that we are at the right place. A couple of loughs with two security girls, my brother’s comment that for Justin Hayward’s concert it is not surprising that the girls are security and we were in, together with maybe 100 people that showed up. Two of the best beers that they had (Carlsberg) there and we were invited to enter the small hall, which immediately reminded about the Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash concert in Trier about eight years ago, where maybe 30 people are there and I must tell you that I like these little concerts, there are much more private and the energy of the great arena concerts don’t suck out all the experience of music.
Kristjan and I set down, also did all the pension people there, and I could swear that two of us, just turned thirty eight, were the youngest people there.
Then a young guitar player stood up on the stage, presented himself as Mike Dawes, a very nice young man, with a great guitar skills, which was most certainly a great and unexpected part of the evening, a discovery! He explained briefly what it is that he does with a guitar and warmed us up with a couple of solos. I do wish him a great career and let the music say for itself. A great song he said was written as a duo with his girlfriend, has become a solo now, you should guess the story.
Mike, after his opening, commented shortly that the tour is getting close to the end, there were a lot of unsold CDs available if the people would help him to take the load of him, not to carry them back to England. I think that almost everyone in the audience went to by one or two at the discounted price, but a couple of hundreds people extra maybe would do a trick, so I am afraid that his CD crates did not loose to much of weight, not even with my help. I got two of his CDs, signed, for a very popular price, couple of words with Mike, were I compared him with the great “The Yes” guitar player Steve Howe, which later I thought that maybe I shouldn’t as I don’t think that any artist would like to be compared to anyone else but himself. So Mike, my bad, if you will ever read this article.
Again, Kristjan and I were invited to enter as the concert was about to begin and while all the German audience were already at their place, the two of us somehow managed to enter after Justin Hayward, which maybe wouldn’t be a big deal attending some larger concert, but here it was a bit awkward. So Justin, sorry, our bad!
Justin Hayward among all others musicians in the rock and roll band history from 60’s to the early 80’s were and will remain my heroes and seeing Justin play live was a big deal for me, as seeing him only on TV or LPs cover. There were a couple of private moments where he was speaking about his past, about his experience and questioning some parts of it. But even in his words, what somewhat could appear as confusion I couldn’t resist the feeling that everything will be all right for this man as he is an angel who spent most of his life with a giving hands. Thank you for that!
I didn’t film much as I was interested to see and listen, so that is all that I have to share. There were only three band members, a angel voice lady on keyboards that I did not catch the name. From the concert itself that in one moment I started to clap as the song was in that tempo, one German reacted immediately, the two of us clapped for a while, but the Germans, strict and precise clap only when given signal from the stage. But look at me generalizing again. But we do have a relation here, one out of hundred will clap.
The concert ended, my brother already had a great Irish pub in mind 2 km away. Our way took us by the river and across the bridge and I was able to see that Rhine is a life vessel of the city, giving the beautiful town promenade a soul and places for residents and tourists to feel free and relaxed. Some of the people were drinking alcohol, some of them were just smoking “Shishas” and some of them playing music, not matter the age differences.
which by the way is proclaimed to be the best Irish pub in the whole Germany, so I have fears how might others look like and what may be the service, as I am not coming back to this one for sure. It is said that it is open by 01:00 a.m., but at 12:00 p.m they gave us new beers, told us to finish them maybe 1 minute after serving them and to go away as they were closing. I didn’t mind too much as I have just smoked one cigarillos after one month without smoking. Anyone who stopped smoking knows that there are moments where you are thinking that you would give a piece of your ass for just one blow, but I have decided to stop killing myself, but not to stop to enjoy a good cigarette even if it comes in once in a month or a year, or who knows when. I smoked one and looked the whole way back to the hotel if someone will ask me for a cigarette to donate a pack of Moody’s. However, the way was longer then expected, even though my brother commented after exiting the pub that he has a great sense of space that somehow brought is in a complete opposite direction from which we were going. After a couple of loughs we turned around and went the right way.
We were already quite tired and exhausted, after of whole day of walking, not to mention the driving any further, when we were getting closer. One of the last observations, which led to the last conversation, sounded like this:
Do you notice how all of the buildings in the center are new and modern? Köln must have got some serious ass kicking during the second world war!
As much as I don’t like to use the term “It is a fact!”, as the fact is that someone with five fingers on a hand has five fingers on his hand and can claim a fact, but for some almost certain cases it doesn’t have to be. Not to go on too much about the facts now, Köln did get a serious ass kicking and that is a fact.
It makes me wonder however, and it is something that I plan to write as I have been exploring it for a while. Just imagine a poor little angry Addy, that triggered a hatred in millions of people, which resulted in almost sixty millions of dead during the World War II and all that hatred and expansion of it finally just felled back on them, didn’t it? Like it did on everyone else before them!
Anyway, the church that was built for 600 years was almost intact after what seems to be a very precise bombarding.