June 15, 2005
You know what really sucks about European hotels?
Even the double beds are single beds, pushed together, with separate single blankets and a big ol’ crack down the middle… which is highly uncomfortable for two voracious cuddlers like The Husband-Type Man and me. It’s very disconcerting to try to snuggle back into a warm and cozy Husband who has his lanky arms wrapped around you and find yourself sinking into a split in the middle of the bed instead.
I have one more complaint: the fucking smoking! As a result of the smoky coffeehouse we stopped at last night (the heissen shockolade was strong, unsweetened, and very rich! Mmmm…), my throat is killing me, and I fear I’ve started developing some sort of headcold or something… that is, if a headcold could be caused by smoke instead of, oh, an actual virus or something. *sigh* So I’m sulking and resting in the hotel room for a few hours instead of visiting Betsy’s street and the Pinakothek, with a quart of orange juice at my side, saving my strength for the Duran show tonight. Dang, it’s a good thing I’m not a concert-screamer, or I’d be in sad shape, wouldn’t I?
Unlike Prague, Munich is someplace I’d totally want to come back to live. Admittedly, I was in a Besty and the Great World frame of mind, as is only to be expected, to begin with. I didn’t set my hopes TOO high, of course: the gemütlich München of Betsy’s era had been through a hell of a lot in the last century, what with, you know, the two world wars and all. But despite that, the city is still cozy-feeling and lovely, with much of the glorious historical buildings still intact/refurbished, and restaurants with flotillas of white-covered tables and chairs in front. (Kel, I’ve heard that the southern cities in Germany are very different than Berlin, so it’ll be fun to compare experiences!) It’s hard to get a bead on things in a day and a half, but I can already tell I like it here.
The food, natch, helps; everything we’ve eaten here is good. For lunch yesterday, we wandered a bunch of small streets off the main drag until we found a restaurant without tons of tourists, and, basking in the sun, ate spaetzle and sausages and salad and a potato salad made with mashed potatoes and vinegar and kraut. Spaetzle, I think, may be Germany’s answer to mac-and-cheese-like comfort food; it was rich and cheesy, with savory bits of browned onions. The aforementioned heissen shockolade was also excellent, and I wish I had more time to hang in the coffeehouses here… preferably OUTSIDE, though. Ah, next time.
Yesterday we spent most of our time at the Royal Residence, being dorky tourists. The palace, which has been partially rebuilt after WWII bombing, still feels steeped in history, not like a reproduction at all (*ahem*PHILADELPHIA*ahem*). We checked out the treasury, where the Bavarian crown jewels are, and I was impressed by the collection of vessels carved from various semi-precious gemstones like rock crystal, lapis, jasper, agate and onyx. Another room in the palace was filled with the Wittelsbach family’s collection of Christian relics: ornate gold-leaf and jeweled things with a fragment of wood or a piece of bone in them. Two were ostensibly the skulls of St. John the Baptist and his mother, St. Elizabeth. Of course, if one knows anything about the history of religious relics, one would be skeptical, but still… it was both grotesque and beautiful. The Residenz itself was a baroque nightmare: velvet walls and gold moldings and brocade draperies…. You’d think the Goddess of Foof, She who Advocates Clutter, would dig baroque, but… well… it just is too overwhelming and any individual thing is lost completely in the overpowering mass of Stuff. Take the Miniature Gallery, one small annex with lots of miniature paintings… but each one was surrounded by two tons of gold frames and moldings that you could barely see the paintings at all. The eye is drawn all over the place without any real focus.
Baroque is, in my opinion, the Seventeenth Century Décor Version of jacked-up 4X4 trucks with huge wheels, running lights, and a pimpy stereo system. Who’re you trying so desperately to impress, huh?!
The Ancestor Gallery, one of the first rooms we went into, was easily the most overwhelming physical space I’ve ever been in. It’s a long, vaulted room, with over 100 oil portraits –floor to ceiling – of the Wittelsbach family, all surrounded by gold frames and molding, with murals on the ceiling and hidden doors and a huge family tree painted on one wall in the middle of the room. It was easy to imagine the room being designed for the sole purpose of intimidating any guest who came to the Palace.
And then we got to the Antiquarian Room, which was about twice the size of the gallery, and filled with classic statues and Renaissance-era copies of classic statues set in ornate niches, with marble inlays and overlays and columns and balustrades and vaulted ceilings with huge frescoes… Again, not a typically-beautiful room per se, but totally overwhelming and intimidating space.
By the time we finished poking around, it was cloudy and drizzling. We’d no sooner gotten back to our hotel when the thunder and lightening started… a thunderstorm of Midwestern proportions, with streaks of lightning sizzling across the sky, and booming thunderclaps that shook the walls. It’s still drizzly today, which is why I came back to the hotel room to write for a bit after lunch rather than risk exacerbating my non-cold cold.
Pa-in-Law gets in tonight, while we’re at the Duran show, and then tomorrow, we head to Venice.
* * * *
Post-Duran, and I have to doingedy a bit because THEY DID “SOUND OF THUNDER!”
So much for my vow not to do any shrieking at the show, because the second it started, THTM and I looked at each other and just… SHRIEKED!
They played at Olympiahalle, part of the huge Olympic complex, but the venue was cut in half by curtained-off sections, and even after that, was maybe ¼ full. Surprising. I’d say maybe 200 people were in the standing-only floor, and maybe another 300 scattered haphazardly around the surrounding seats; even though more arrived throughout the show, I’d bet ten Euros that there couldn’t’ve been more’n 700 people, all told.
They don’t seem to be traveling with the full stage set, and, if these are the kinds of crowds (or lack thereof) that they’re getting, I’m sure it’s for the best. This show had younger-looking people than the Prague show, though; instead of lots of folks in jeans and windbreakers, it was folks in jeans and nice shirts. And I even saw one person wearing a Duran shirt (from this tour). Still, it was much like Prague: no one in the seats stood up or danced, everyone was pretty low-key and kick-back, but the folks on the floor seemed into it, and there were plenty of folks dancing down there, at least.
Well, My Boyfriend appeared to be feeling under the weather as well. Lots of coughing, lots of singing whilst holding onto a water bottle, and not a whole lot of doinging around. In fact, a bunch of things were scaled back in Munich: They didn’t do the Five Durans Standing Before a Worshipful Crowd intro. Simon didn’t do his “hands in the big sky” dramatic ending to RUFTS, didn’t run and jump during the final chorus of HLTW, didn’t do any finger-licking during CU, didn’t do OW Charades (?!?), and, to my eternal sadness, didn’t do any “Play that fuckin’ bass, John!” either! Poor Boyfriend! He sounded good, though, if a little strained near the end of the show. The rest of the Durans were in rockin’ mode, and Johnny fairly carried the show personality-wise a couple times. He was full-out bass-spankin’ in all his pigeon-toe’d splendor, smiling a lot, and even adorably intro-ing “Girls on Film” (“You guys mind if we take your picture?”).
I’m well aware that being a Simon fan means being embarrassed often, and tonight was no exception. As if his lack of doingediness wasn’t sad enough… My Boyfriend… dear Lord… when he introduced “What Happens Tomorrow” actually, really and truly said:
“This song is our contribution to world peace.”
But! THEY DID “SOUND OF THUNDER” … and to make it even better, they made it a medley with Donna Summers’s “I Feel Love,” one of my favoritest disco dance songs EVAH, and Johnny and Roger were all dirty-funky, and Anna just tore up the vocals, and the whole thing was the second-bestest Duran Song Performed as a Medley with a Cover Song Live that I’ve ever heard (after “Girls on Film/The Model”). YES!
Here’s the set list for Munich, guys:
- Reach Up for the Sunrise
- Hungry Like the Wolf
- Planet Earth
- Union of the Snake
- What Happens Tomorrow
- Come Undone
- The Reflex
- Sound of Thunder/I Feel Love
- The Chauffeur
- Ordinary World
- Save a Prayer
- Taste the Summer
- Notorious/Take You Higher
- Careless Memories
- Wild Boys
- Girls on Film/Groove is in the Heart
The sing-along to SAP went better tonight, too, because they only did sing-along-chorus, not sing-along-first-verse, which always screws the audience up. “Wild Boys” still was the most powerful number in the show (“Deutschland, stomp yer feet!”), with the kick-ass drums and funkadelic bass and all its Simon/John HoYay.
Also interesting: there was only one stand for merchandise (all appeared to be what was sold in the states, just less of it), and then, on the way out after the show, there was a lone guy with a cardboard box at his feet selling the program book.
If this is what their standard European audiences are like, no WONDER they’re coming back to American, the mercenary little pigs! Lucky for us! Woo!
Time for more cough drops and Sudafed, and then… bed!
Vado a Venezia!