Monday, 30 April 2012

Madam in Berlin

As some of you may have gathered, I moved to Berlin with my partner in crime to become full time artists. Berlin inspired us a year ago when we came over to play some shows and write/record our album (out 7 May by the way). Ever since then, we'd save up money when we were in London so we could head back to Berlin, play shows, write music and hang out with inspiring people. Some months back we felt like taking the plunge and move here full time. So when I found out that Madam were touring Germany and were in town, we seized the opportunity to see them.

I've written a live review on Madam before, but that was with the full band back in London. Tonight, however, the usually five piece band is stripped down to Sukie Smith and John Robertson and even with just the two of them, their sound is rich and compelling. The venue they play in is called Madame Claude, which is situated in Kreuzberg; a rather favorite part of Berlin for artists and musicians alike.

Madame Claude is a basement venue, with black stairs twisting all the way down until you enter a quarry of individual rooms drowned in red lights. The music venue and bar is famously known for their quirky interior design; furniture and odd little settings are glued and screwed upside down to the ceiling giving the illusion of who's actually upright and who's upside down.

Tonight it's Friday and just short before 11pm, someone comes in to announce that the show was about to begin and if everyone could make their way down to the live music room please. Without much hesitation, people begin collecting their beers and head on down to an even lower level of the venue.

The evening begins with Andreas Laudwein and Stead, both who are singers and songwriters and sometimes perform together. I kind of indirectly know Laudwein, mostly through the magic of Facebook after he saw us perform in Berlin, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover he was the supporting act. At first it takes the two gentlemen some time to get their sound right, something to do with the humidity apparently as the guitars keep going out of tune (it is incredibly hot, a rather shock to the system) but with the bantering and a few jokes thrown in, the time taken to set up is easily dismissed and forgiven. Laudwein and Stead put on a rather compelling show, their sound is a mix of slowed down Dylan and Zappa with a kind of classic country rock twist. Laudwein's voice in particular is almost angelic at times, sucking you into his story telling. Stead puts on more of a comic show, creating an almost husband/wife bantering between the two performers (which is rather endearing).

The night rolls on, it's after midnight and after a quick cigarette break, we're back down stairs to catch Madam. As usual, this band pulls me in straight away and emotions come rolling in like thunder and lightning. The sound is so crystal clear tonight, that I let go from reality and dissolve into their world. Sukie's vocals have this ability to be bitter sweet whilst lost in romance, even when she's verging on a whisper. It's rich and beautiful and something along the lines of elegantly wasted all rolled into one. John's guitar playing is sensitive and weaves in and out and around Sukie's vocals, creating this effortless sonic stream of nostalgia. To me, Madam is the real underground Lana Del Rey, but way cooler and far less contrived. To me, Madam's the real Nancy Sinatra gone rogue. And even with the band stripped down to the essentials,  their sound still manages to create an atmosphere as if the entire band were in the same room.

After sharing our stories from the streets and much needed celebratory drinks with Madam after their show, my evening ends at five in the morning.

How I love Berlin for it's never ending night life.

Perfect for a night owl like me.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Lost in the City

San Diego, Paris and then Berlin...

I wake up to the sound of sirens, even just the rolling of my eyes causes a searing pain through my skull. Apart from the disappearing red and blue lights seeping in through some cracked spaces, everything's pitch black. I twist my hands, curl my fingers, yup, they seem ok. I lift my arms, nothing seems broken. How about my feet? They feel like ice. I try wiggling the toes, at least I think I am, whatever I am doing, there doesn't seem to be any other pain but what's going through my head. A slight panic, maybe I was bleeding from my head? I start to touch my face, no real aches, just my lip feels swollen to the size of a fat cherry, otherwise nothing. Slowly I comb through my hair, gradually getting closer to my scalp. Something sticky on the side of my temple. I follow the sticky goo down to my right ear, possibly my ear is bleeding and just behind it, I feel a gash, it is tender but oddly numb at the same time. Confidence grows and I start checking the rest of my body, clothes were all there, but one of my left ribs felt bruised, maybe when I fell to the ground I landed on it, hopefully just a bruising and nothing cracked.

I start to sit up, my skull instantly screaming. I ignore it. A sudden surge of adrenaline. I grab hold of my feet to give them a rub, gradually building up warm blood. I crawl over to the cracks where I saw the siren lights come through. I peel back newspaper from partly broken glass. Everything's dark on the streets apart from a couple of lamp posts, which quiver with orange lighting. I keep tearing away at the paper, looking behind me to see if I could get a better grasp what kind of space I was in. Eyes adjusting, I make out what seems like a mattress in the far corner and next to it, a door perhaps?

Before I was going anywhere I needed to find my shoes. The temperature was below average and the more I was adjusting, the sooner I realized that I was on the verge of hypothermia. Partly feeling my way and adjusting my eyes, the room seems to be really small by about three meters by two. I head over to the mattress. A pair of trainers, a sweater, sweat pants, pair of wool socks, scarf and some kind of hunter hat lay perfectly folded, as if on display on the mattress. I immediately pull the socks over my feet, grab the sweat pants and slide them over my jeans. The sweater also, which feels unbearably itchy but choose to ignore it. Pulling on the rest, I suddenly feel a sense of cosiness overcome me, and for a moment all I want to do is curl up on the mattress and fall asleep.

However ignoring the sudden urge to pretend that what's surrounding me is far from normal, I feel my way for the door knob and give it a slow turn. Slowly pulling the door open, an almost strobe like flicker from a few overhead hall lamps light up the hall way, an intense fume of burnt rubber crushes my sense of smell and I hold the collar of the sweater over my nose. Other than that there seems to be no noise, nothing but the electric flicker from the dying bulbs over head.

I take my first step onto the wooden panels, avoiding a creak. Which direction? Left or right? Both ends were dark. I try to sniff out the direction the fumes were coming from, maybe best to avoid them. They seem stronger to my left. I step out and turn right. With just a few steps into a direction that could hopefully get me out of here, a sudden squeal, like finger nails scraping down a chalk board but with the volume turned up, comes towards me and the next thing I know, a blow, pushing me flat on my back. The squeal is gone the second it comes and without thinking I get up and run.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Mothers Flesh

Come to me
my little darling
lady of the

You cherish nothing
the little birds
calling to you
from behind
the screen.

My little lady
a cast in shells
and kissed from

You bare all

No kiss
no bliss
no little

the sensation lies
within its spell
and nothing but
the smear
of aching

Come and sit,
taste my bitter-
and fall amongst
our ashes
we sink
and eat
our mothers

Thursday, 5 April 2012


Promise me your heart

I miss the days

of your sweet dreams

Monday, 2 April 2012

Spaces in between

The spaces in between are made of light
of your sweet dreams.
Promise me your heart
I miss the days or
so it seems.

You are everything
it doesn't mean...

You are everything
it doesn't mean...

(Below still from next music video - The Spaces in Between - single)