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SummerFest in Munchen - Hangin' With The Horse

by Francesco Lucarelli
Hello, good morning folks...

Roma is burning in this hot Sunday morning. <editors note: July 14, 1996> Mark Knopfler is playing his Golden Heart in the background and my 2 cats are running all over the place. I'll try to put together a story for you - I hope it'll make sense.

Okay, let's go back to Thursday...

An enjoyable flight from Roma to Munchen takes me for the first time in the land of beer and sausages. Actually if you want to go for the real beers, you have to travel to Belgium, but that's another story.

I don't have any hotel, any plan, any schedule, just an appointment with an old friend of mine: Billy is his name -- the Billy you all have seen shakin' his head in the RNS movie. I'm thinking about getting a room at the same hotel where they're staying -- you know, those once-in-a-lifetime follies. But after I ask the price for a singleroom, I decide that the hotel around the corner is the perfect choice.    :-)    It's very close to where they're staying anyway, and I'll save some money for better things.

It's 3.00 pm and they won't be at the hotel before 5.00 pm. So I head to the Marienplatz, and then downstairs to World of Music, a big record, um excuse me, CD shop. It takes me quite a few minutes before I get oriented there. I grab the Big Time cd-single (same album cover as Broken Arrow, but in a red tint). I also pick up some Willy DeVille singles, and the Annie Lennox cd-single with the live version of Don't Let It Bring You Down, which she covered on her last album.

Also I find that those Dire Straits re-mastered first CDs are not too expensive and pick them up. The Crazy Horse Loose cd I've been looking for so long is there, too - but at 45 DM it's way too expensive. (Can anyone help me to get it at a reasonable price?) The vinyl section has Unplugged, Harvest Moon and Broken Arrow. I plan to come back here before I leave. (But it turns out that didn't happen.)

Back to the hotel... It's 5.30 now and THE band arrives. Here's Neil, Elliot, Pancho (a.k.a. Poncho - I see both forms of the name being used everywhere). When Billy and Ralph come in, it's a great moment for each of us -- we hug each other, happy to meet after more than two years.

The rest of the afternoon goes by way too quickly. Stories are traded, music is played, we talk about music, common friends, food, cooking, the planet. A few things I picked up:

  • Neil and the band were really excited about the shows in Berlin and Lipsia.
  • The American version of Big Time is different because they realized too late (for the European printing) that some things added in the mixing/editing were not that necessary.
  • BWYWMTD was actually recorded by Tim Mulligan with a stereo mic standing in the air at the board.
  • etc, etc.
Friday is the day of the RustFest and the show. I get up early -- couldn't get used to the bed, plus there are no shutters (only curtains) and the morning light speeds up my excitement and expectations.

I meet Hans and Pete, and we go looking for bootlegs in the wrong place (one of those big stores with all-in-one-building shops). Not the kind of place where you expect bootlegs to be, and bootlegs there were not. So we take a walk in the gorgeous greens of the English Garden and then we arrange a meeting for the afternoon at the Olympiahalle.

The soundcheck is not that long, Neil's not here so Larry imitates his style, standing in his place. The Halle is not the proper place for a concert, anyway. So they do the best they can on sounds and levels. Then they let a girl tune Neil's piano by ear. Hey!!!! Sometimes I get in trouble tuning the 12 string-guitar -- imagine tuning a piano by ear!!! (Honestly I don't remember if it was used in the show, I do know that Neil didn't play it.) The pirate flag is flying over Ralph's hat, the pump organ is there, too, for which mysterious reason I don't know.

Outside the Olympiahalle, people start gathering. I meet a bunch of Italian friends, all coming from different places. (They all travelled long distances and left after the show so they could be home the morning after -- Elliot, please see what you can do next time.......) I meet Pete, Hans, Armin, Martin, but someone is missing. RAINER! Where are you, boy?!?!?!?!?

It's showtime, now. No surprises at all, no Zuma songs (except for Cortez). I mainly came for Barstool Blues, Dangerbird, Stupid Girl and all those unusual choices performed at OPL and Zurich, but no -- no luck... But the show is really intense. Highlights for me:

  • Pocahontas
  • The central solo of Cortez
  • Fuckin' Up
  • Welfare Mothers
  • Billy using his bass as a percussion instrument -- playing on his knees). As Billy told me yesterday: "We were not lyrical last night".
The place doesn't offer a good sound to the band either, so they build just a pure, genuine r'n'r show. But alas they find no room for the liquid notes of Dangerbird. I hope someone will give me a call next time they play those stealth shows.

After leaving the Halle, changing plans have me cancelling my trip to Frankfurt (sorry Wolfgang) and so I go back to the hotel. It's been great but Too Damn Short. And it's been wonderful to meet some Rusties, even though we didn't get the chance to celebrate properly. I know we'll be meeting somewhere further along the road.

. . . . .Francesco

PS: Hey, Frankfurt: my spirit will be there tonight. Enjoy the show !

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