The second half of McQueen's German tour takes us to Munich and Frankfurt. The shows got better and the drinking got worse!
Cologne suffers the same fate as Hamburg, an early train meaning I have no time to see anything other than the Cathedral (as I walk past) and some of the old town where my hotel was. It is however much more aesthetically pleasing than the Reeperbaum! The trip to Munich is a monster ten hours for the band as they have to go an hour and a half north first to pick up Cat's phone, this makes my five and a half hours on the rather luxurious train seem like a guilty pleasure.
Today is the only day off on the tour, there is a local derby between Frankfurt and Offenbach taking place, at which trouble is expected (and we hear later duly arrives) so the Frankfurt show has been moved to the end of the week. Initially I think this great news, at last a chance to do some sightseeing! Such foolish notions are quickly dispelled however as I arrange to meet up at the bands hotel for what Ben tells me will be a quiet night at a restaurant followed by one or two beers. It takes me nearly two hours to get to their hotel, which is half an hour from the centre of Munich where my hotel is. I get on a tram and get my ticket ripped up after one stop by an over zealous inspector, so have to get off and buy another. Then my tram only goes half way so I have to change lines and wait 20 minutes. Then I succeed in going one stop too far and have to wait another 20 minutes to go back and then when I finally arrive at the hotel Ben tells me they've changed their minds and everyone's going into the centre of Munich!
However unimpressed I am by this news is nothing compared to how Leah is feeling, who after ten hours in the van is getting increasingly annoyed by an email interview she is conducting in the lobby "Why do they keep asking me about fashion? What do I know about fucking fashion? I wear Oxfam chic!". Leah is also struggling a little with her voice so decides to stay in the hotel with Hayley whilst the rest of us head off to town and the famous Hofbrauhaus. We stop off en route for Gina to get some beer, which she then realises she can't open so the Disgroove boys come to the rescue and show her the knack of opening bottles with a lighter. Gina tries and can't manage it and it becomes a running joke for the next couple of days. The Hofbrauhaus is amazing, a huge building with an umpa band playing in the middle. The beer arrives in litre glasses and goes down all too easy! Cat makes Chris, Gina & I promise to dance later on, thinking she's joking I readily agree. She's not joking however and drags us up to perform the usual drunken tourist antics (well just how do you dance to an umpa band?!). It's all good fun and the girls make sure that they have the honour of being the last two people to leave the Hofbrauhaus that night.
Everyone heads back to the hotel except Thilo (the tour promoters rep), Chris & I, who decide to stay out. After inadvertently ending up in a gay bar (which became obvious the moment three guys in the corner showed their knobs to each other!) followed by a club it's gone 5am by the time I make it back to the hotel. Naturally the plans to go sight seeing the following morning go out the window and are replaced by nursing the mother of all hangovers.
After the previous nights excesses it's a cautious start to the day in Munich, I manage to get it together enough to visit an internet café before heading off on the tram up to the venue. Meanwhile the well rested Leah and Hayley head into town for a radio interview with one of the larger local stations.
The Backstage Club looks like a former meat packing factory and is situated on the edge of an industrial estate, which is a little odd but inside it's another promising looking venue with the stage dominating a circular floor. Backstage is in another part of the complex, accessed by a key pad, which we manage to mess up leaving Cat, Chris and I locked outside in the rain for ten minutes unable to fathom it out. When we finally get in there is a long gap before sound check, which leaves plenty of time for the conversation to descend to a discussion about toilets during which Cat informs us she tried practising classical guitar on the throne in her younger days; "well I thought if I'm sitting down anyway...". Leah goes into great length about her OCD and the need for everything in hotel rooms to be in exactly the right place before launching into a tirade against obese kids; "I'd lock them in their room and let them eat wall paper!". Gina attempts the bottle opening feat again and fails again, much to the amusement of the Disgroove guys.
The sound check is relatively short and it's sounding good so whilst the girls tuck into the impressive rider I head back into town to pick up message boarder Oni, who has flown over for the last two shows. Back at the venue there is more waiting around and to pass the time Leah decides it's time I was treated to the Hoff dance. Hayley puts her phone on the table and it plays David Hasselhoff's 'Jump In My Car', whilst Leah entertains us all with a highly polished (ahem) dance routine! Then she tells me about a track called 'Jackie Stallone' that at one stage was to be a secret track on the album, written with Marcella Detroit. The lyrics are hilarious and Leah does an impressive impersonation of Stallone. The mood is already good and is enhanced further by the arrival of Cat's brother Roger, who has flown in along with a friend over from Las Vegas.
Disgroove go down extremely well tonight and turn in their best performance so far. The crowd is similar in size again but is far more vocal with plenty of movers. McQueen just seem to be getting better as the tour progresses and tonight they are superb. 'Bitch' really gets the crowd going and I watch it from the balcony along with Disgroove drummer Toby, we both grin as we look down on the lively crowd and we give each other a knowing look that confirms that we know we've seen something a bit special tonight. The crowd lap it up as Leah pauses to read out a few of the audience members t-shirts including one guy's shirt that has 'Sex, Murder, Art' written on it; "you might want to stay away from that guy!" she warns.
They drop the extended ending to 'Like I Care' tonight to save Leah's voice and as with every night she threatens to kick anyone who sings out of turn in the face, which gets a good laugh from the crowd. Merch is very busy once again and it's smiles all round with Disgroove managing to pull a couple of female roadies who carry all their gear out for them, much to Toby's delight.
Post gig we head back to the Ibis hotel in Garching and it's on the way that I notice all is not well with Oni. He's been knocking back the beers since he arrived in Germany and is beginning to look rather green, so when we arrive he stays outside in the rain for some air. Inside the beer is flowing nicely and everyone's on good form, I check up on Oni and take him some water but he's not looking any better. After another ten minutes I check again and he's disappeared! I check the nearby grass bank and ditches to no avail and it's another hour before he finally answers his voicemail and I find him slumped in a heap at the bottom of some stairs (which thankfully he hasn't fallen down) leading to a service door. Thilo and Ralph help me get him inside where he's met by a cheer before we deposit him on a bench where he duly collapses. Cat and Gina take the opportunity to put a plant on his head but beat a hasty retreat when he emits the mother of all farts, which stinks out the whole bar. We drag him into the toilet where he stays for the next two hours curled up on the floor.
The highlight of the evening comes when Cat decides to repair to the Etap hotel next door with her bulging bag of swag from the rider. In the lobby is a life size wicker statue of a stag, which she decides must be ridden, she gets one leg up before both stag and Cat crash to the floor scattering cheese and ham everywhere! It's hilarious and it takes brother Roger a good five minutes to stop laughing. By the time I get Oni in a taxi and back to our hotel in Munich it's gone 3am and breakfast is missed once again.
German trains are fantastic until the 28th of February, up to this point you can buy a winter saver (29 euros) for almost every train journey regardless of length. Needless to say I am severely pissed off when the last day of February passes and the price for the relatively short 3 hour trip to Frankfurt costs 84 euros! That aside the journey is a welcome sit down and I discover that the train has it's own built in metal radio station, which saves on the ipod batteries.
With Oni in tow (looking somewhat rough but far better than the previous evening!) we find the Nachtleben club with relative ease and after delivering the English papers again to Cat & Gina we meet up with Lina, who has driven over from Cologne. It's the last night of the tour and Disgroove are in good spirits, they've just bought a remote controlled helicopter that they fly around the venue throughout the sound check terrorising all and sundry. Tour manager Ben had gone to bed early the previous evening but has obviously heard the story as he appears on stage, sees Oni sitting on a step at the back of the venue and shouts rather loudly "I hear you shit yourself last night!". Needless to say everyone cracks up and poor old Oni goes about the deepest shade of red possible but just for the record it was nothing more than a severe case of flatulence!
There are more interviews for McQueen both in person and over the phone and then a photo shoot. Ben takes the opportunity to mooney Hayley but ever the professional she doesn't crack. There are lots of sultry poses pulled with Gina exclaiming she feels like a model before making sure they get a good shot of her tattoo.
We're warned beforehand that Frankfurt is usually a quiet town for gigs but then Ralph turns up and announces that there have been 40 pre-sales and with a similar number on the guest list everyone's quite excited at the prospect of a good sized crowd. It turns out to be the biggest crowd of the tour and also the most active. Disgroove get a great reaction and invite McQueen up on stage for a song, with Hayley taking over on the drums mid song. McQueen save their best showing until last and put everything into this show, they are rewarded with the first proper mosh pit of the tour (which includes Ralph & I). They return the earlier favour by inviting Disgroove up on stage and it's smiles all round as even Oni forgets his earlier woes when he gets dragged up to sing along to 'Bitch'. All too soon it's over and there's a slight feeling of sadness as the last chord to 'Like I Care' rings out, knowing that it's the end of the tour. There's one surprise left however as they pull me on stage and make me down what's left of Leah's JD, complete with drum roll from Hayley before Disgroove's Philippe emerges with Jagermeister shots for everyone.
The larger crowd means they sign more merchandise tonight than on any other and many are left disappointed as they have sold out of copies of the album. There is one surprise left when the photographer that took the cover shot for the album turns up, this is the first time they've met and Leah is delighted to meet another contributing member of the McQueen machine.
This being Ralph's home town he is out for the duration but alas we can't join him this time as McQueen have to drive to Switzerland the next day and I have to grab a lift back to Cologne airport with Lina. After hugs all round for our new friends and many promises to keep in touch McQueen head off in their van & we jump in the car. Oni shows signs of returning to the 'Onizone' but fortunately manages to avoid throwing up in the car, spending the next 7 hours face down on a bench in Cologne airport.
It's been a fantastic tour and McQueen have done themselves many favours both in terms of the shows and the amount of good PR they've done. With a return to Germany rumoured for September we just might have to come back to see how they get on next time!
The second half of McQueen's German tour takes us to Munich and Frankfurt. The shows got better and the drinking got worse!