So I was lucky enough to catch the Friday of Berlin’s esteemed music week festival. Location: Tempelhof. For the uninitiated, Tempelhof is a defunct airport built mainly by the Nazis, the runway-area turned into a city park and the gated terminal of which is now used to host music festivals and other events.
After taking the wrong Eingang and walking half an hour through what seemed like the drab-coloured bowels of an underground missile silo, we entered the airport terminal to the bouncy soundtrack of MIA. (unfortunately not M.I.A of ‘Paper Planes’ fame). The atmosphere was charged. The palpable energy of Berliners milking the last of the summer weather combined with a lineup of world-class acts generated a great vibe, all the cooler considering the amazingly chic setting of an abandoned airport.
One observation of note is that the event was in all reckoning, comfortably under-populated. I mean this in the most positive way – the vibe was electric but never claustrophobic. Even in the busiest of spots the audience was not so much a mass as a thick smattering of bodies, still allowing the late summer breeze to permeate and refresh the inebriated. This meant a certain level of intimacy I would never expect from what is essentially a medium-sized festival. I’m not one to stand for hours to get a good spot at a gig, but with minimal shuffling I was able to ease from the toilets to the front of the main stage, no more than 15 metres from the glistening flesh of the artists on stage.
Pet Shop Boys were the first act I saw and found a fantastic reception amongst dance-happy Germans who, as I fully anticipated, loved that brand of melodic electro-based music. They were visually stunning too, with Neil Tenant sporting a variety of outlandish feathery costumes to rival Lady Gaga whilst dancers with satanic ram-head masks gyrated behind him. I’m glad I wasn’t on L.S.D.
My heart bounced when I saw on the ‘Arrivals Board’ that Blur were due to headline the night. As a 22 year-old Briton raised on a diet of 90’s Brit-pop, this was a f**king treat. Kicking off with ‘Girls & Boys’ the crowd erupted. Noting the vast amount of British English being spoken around me and how infrequently Blur play the U.K, I realised that a huge part of the audience must have flown in specifically for this set. No-one was disappointed. Admittedly, there was a tangible drop in energy half-way through when the inevitable slower and/or filler songs came out in succession. The audience reignited, however, at the descending bass intro to ‘Country House’ and the energy carried through to ‘Parklife’ and the final encore performance of ‘Song 2’. I can’t in all earnestness review a band like Blur, but merely describe the experience. They are kings of British pop and it was both nostalgic and moving to see them live in my adopted city.
Article by: Neelesh Vasister // photos: Anne Berndt