The Container Drivers
Keg's Tour Diary
Perverted by this man Perverted by Mark E tour

9 June Berlin, Roter Salon
10 June Hamburg, Knust
11 June Dortmund, FZW
The Container Drivers landed in Berlin on Monday 7th June. With Rick once again unable to make the trip due to work commitments, trusty substitute Glyn stood in on guitar. We arrived in the city two days ahead of the gig so we could do some sight-seeing and other touristy type things. I finally got to go up the TV tower in Alexanderplatz. The last time I was in Berlin, I chose to visit it on one of only two days in the year when it is closed. Unfortunately, that day was also my last before going home, so I couldn't go back the next day. It was worth the wait though, especially when we got to watch the sun setting over the city.
On Tuesday I got in touch with Michael, who is an old friend of Marc from the Woog Riots. He had agreed that we could stay at his flat after Wednesday's gig. I went to meet him on Tuesday evening. What a nice bloke! He took me out around Friedrichshain, where we had some Indian food and then sat outside a bar that was decorated with retro Soviet and East German memorabilia. At midnight the barman told us that local laws meant that we had to go inside, so we moved on. We ended up drinking until about 2 am. Michael told me which tram to catch to get back to my hostel. As luck would have it, there was one coming, so I set off running to the stop... but I twisted my ankle in the process. Ow! I only felt it the next day. I caught the tram and got off at the right stop, but then I set off walking in the wrong direction. I was heading back west. Half an hour later I realised my mistake and turned around and stumbled back. So it was 4 am when I got to bed, and I had to be out of my room by 10. Bah!
Wednesday. I woke up feeling ill, and it wasn't just a hangover. I felt tired, hot and feverish, and my throat was starting to hurt. Impeccable timing. After checking out of the hostel, I dodged a thunder storm to hobble with my case over to Michael's flat. After being treated to some breakfast, I fell asleep on his settee for four hours. In the evening we made our way back to the centre and met the Woog Riots. Glyn had already found them. The soundcheck had been done, so we went for something to eat. I was feeling spaced out! And all by natural means. The first gig on the tour was at the Roter Salon. It was strange to be playing there, as I'd been to a gig and disco at the same club last summer on a trip to Berlin. Five bands played: Rockformation Diskokugel were on first, then they were joined by Knarf Rellöm for some of his numbers. "How I Wrote Mark E Smith" included audience participation for the backing vocals every night. The Woog Riots were next, then it was our turn. In celebration I wore the Fall t-shirt that I'd bought in 1990 on the "Extricate" tour. Using Rainer the drummer from the Woog Riots, we played "Searching for the Skylon", "The Girl on the Bus", "Cosmic Sofa" and finished with "The Ex-Members of The Fall Club". For this we were joined by the other members of the Woog Riots. Before we went to Germany I printed out all the names of the ex-members mentioned in the song on sheets of A3 paper. Knarf Rellöm was invited to stand at the front and show these to the audience one-by-one when we played the song. He got confused on the first night though and thought he was supposed to show them to me! It went swimmingly the next two nights. Silvana from the Woogs had also printed off Jeffrey Lewis's "Story of the Fall" slide show from his website, so I narrated this while she showed the prints. It went down well. Finishing the night were the Doc Schoko group, who included Sonya on violin. Knarf also played second guitar on their cover of The Fall's "Life Just Bounces". They finished their set with a version of The Fall's "I'm Frank". A guest vocalist from the audience joined them on stage and proceeded to trash the microphones and kick the drums over. And that ended the night! Glyn had to fly back to the UK the next day, as his other band had a booking for Friday night. So the Woog Riots and myself said our farewells to him and then made our way to Michael's flat.
After breakfast, the Woog Riots and myself said goodbye to Michael and then set off down the autobahn to Hamburg. We stopped at some services on the way there and found half of Rockformation Diskokugel, looking hungover. They'd been drinking with Knarf Rellöm after the gig until about 6 in the morning. Thursday night's venue was the Knust club. I was surprised and a little disturbed to hear Mathias from the Woogs / Rockformation singing Ned's Atomic Dustbin's "Kill Your Television" during the soundcheck... The sound at Hamburg was excellent. Decent lights as well. The Woog Riots played first, and they were great. I was second on the bill after them. I still felt ill that night, but after a few bottles of beer the symptoms magically wore off! Marc from the Woog Riots played guitar with me after Glyn had departed. Although we'd played "Cosmic Sofa" in Berlin, Marc didn't know the song very well so we did a cover of Television Personalities "Part Time Punks" instead. Groovy! "The Ex-Members of The Fall Club" went well, and a wild version it was too. Knarf held the names up for the audience to see. Rockformation Diskokugel were on next. Before they played, Silvana and me did the Jeffrey Lewis "Story of the Fall" slideshow again - some guy filmed it. If that was you, please get in touch. We couldn't find the script though, so I had to try and remember what I'd said the night before and improvise the rest. There were plenty of comedy moments. I think the audience quite enjoyed my version of the story, particularly the bit about MES shopping at C&A for brown trousers and tank tops. Knarf joined the Rockformation boys after their set, then he was joined by DJ Patex for a couple of numbers. There was no Doc Schoko at this gig, but Egoexpress closed the evening with some techno beats.
After the gig we all went to a bar in Hamburg. It was a long night... I finally left at about 5 am, with Mathias, after having a strange and faintly hysterical conversation about sea fishing with some guy we bumped into. It was getting light outside. It had been arranged that we could stay at Knarf's flat - the rest of the Woog Riots had alternative accommodation. When we arrived, his flatmate didn't seem that keen to let us in! Eventually the misunderstanding was resolved and I ended up crashing out on a settee in the recording studio. DJ Patex arrived back after us but found herself locked out of the flat, so she ended up sleeping on the floor in a corridor... and apparently Knarf's cat was seen lying on top of me in the morning, but I never noticed it...
Friday morning. I woke up earlier than I'd like to have done. Something was banging and hammering... it wasn't my hangover to blame, as I discovered that Knarf's place appeared to be located in the middle of an industrial estate. I plugged in my earplugs and went back to sleep for an hour or two. I hitched a ride down to Dortmund in Rockformation Diskokugel's van. On the way there I wrote a new song... The venue in Dortmund (FZW) was the smallest we played at, but it was probably my favourite gig. There was plenty of free beer for a start! Doc Schoko, who'd played at Berlin, made an appearance, with the Indoor Surfers as his backing band. They did their soundcheck last. I heard them playing some Fall songs, so I went to have a listen... and was roped into singing with them later. My throat was not so good on Friday, as I was suffering from a combination of being ill, playing live, and the deadly availability of free beer, but it was ok on the night. Krite from Locust Fudge came to this gig. He had also played at the Darmstadt launch party in May. He played first. Members of Doc Schoko joined him for a stirring rendition of "Cannibal Man", his take on "Carry Bag Man" from the "Perverted" tribute album. Doc Schoko played next. They opened with the Fall instrumental "Mansion", from "This Nation's Saving Grace", before proceeding to play a set of excellent thrashy indie pop. Knarf joined them again for "Life Just Bounces". I took over vocal duties for a couple of Fall covers. With Krite playing bass and Knarf on guitar, we were something of a super group. It went well, considering the lack of rehearsal. I did a laconic impression of MES during "Bill is Dead", then we romped through "Victoria". Before the tour there had been talk of forming one-off groups each night to play Fall covers. I did learn "Fiery Jack" before we went, but sadly the collaborations didn't really happen. I played before the Woog Riots at Dortmund. All the Woogs bar Mathias (the bassist) were my backing band, honorary Container Drivers on the night - or perhaps we were the Container Riots. Silvana's backing vocals brightened up "The Girl on the Bus", and "Part Time Punks" was a joyous mass singalong. After finishing with "The Ex-Members of The Fall Club", I was free to enjoy watching the Woog Riots without the preoccupation of knowing I'd have to go on after them. Knarf Rellöm with Rockformation Diskokugel were on next, so while they set up, me and Silvana did the Jeffrey Lewis slideshow. I had the script this time, but I added some of my own ad-libs to spice it up! Rockformation Diskokugel closed the night and rounded off the short tour with an excellent energetic, thrashy set.
After the gig, we had a hotel to stay in. I'm not sure how we wrangled that, but I didn't ask questions! Somebody had mentioned there would be a hotel the night before, but I thought it was a joke. It had been a long day, and the beer had been plentiful and free, so after checking in I ended up falling asleep on the bed in my clothes. Thank you and good night!
After a good breakfast on Saturday, I travelled with the Woog Riots back to their home town of Darmstadt. In the late afternoon, Marc and Silvana took me to the university, where the students union were showing the opening match in Euro 2004 (Portugal v Greece) on a big screen. Many in the audience were cheering for Greece on account of Otto, their German coach. We returned to watch Spain v Russia in the evening, meeting Mathias there. After the match had finished, we all went to a club in a cellar to see a band. A garage-punk group called the Giraffemen were playing. They were all naked apart from giraffe-print loin clothes. Strange men. They covered a song by Sixties group The Sonics, which was indicative of their sound. The singer had an entertaining range of facial expressions... and he wore a top hat.
I came back to England on Sunday 13th. Saying goodbye to our new friends Marc and Silvana was sad - I didn't want to leave! I caught a fast ICE train to Cologne. It cost me 55 euros, but it was worth it for the speed and the pleasant travelling experience. I then made my way to Cologne / Bonn airport, from where I'd booked a cheap flight to Manchester for only £28. I landed at the same time that the France v England match kicked off. I was on the train back home when it was being played, but I was kept in touch with proceedings by text message. Perhaps it's just as well that I didn't watch it...
Overall then, I had a fantastic time. It was a great experience... but a tiring one. I don't think I could have done many more nights, and it took me several days to recover afterwards! Never mind, you only live once. We met some great people on our travels and made some new friends. Hopefully it won't be too long before the Container Drivers can go back and do it all again.
See tour photos here.
Keg, 18 July 2004.
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