Hamburg has an amazing music scene and somehow I managed to go there when there was nothing on. OK, heavy rockers Anvil were playing in the city and could’ve warranted a little novelty attention, had the pub not been so alluring. That’s the problem when you go away with the boys on a ‘jolly’ rather than a mission.
Those in the know will tell you Hamburg is the place to visit in Germany if you’re an alternative music aficionado, although Berlin does give it a good run for its money. Forget the fact The Beatles took up residency here in the early-60s, more importantly my dad’s band The Executioners were also due to play here too, until I came along and messed up any rock ‘n’ roll aspirations he may have had. Hamburg is also the home of FC St. Pauli, the 2nd tier Bundelsliga team with 112 year history. What’s the big deal about that you may ask? Well; although on the field St. Pauli have enjoyed only modest success, the club is widely recognised for its distinctive social culture and has a large popular following as one of the country’s “Kult” clubs, which has now developed beyond Germany. Their supporters are known for their anti fascist stance and punk rock tendencies. They adopted the skull and crossbones symbol in the 1980s when the legendary Doc Mabuse of Hamburg band Punkenstein acquired a ‘jolly roger’ flag from a fairground and planted the flag firmly in the hearts and minds of those who follow. (club website)
We visited the ground (one of the Seven Wonders) and the club shop, and I bought a St. Pauli bobble-hat to keep out near freezing temperatures. Hardcore music is blasting through the speakers as people sift through some cool merch in there. It looked more like a punk rock outlet than a football club shop. Also, make sure you take the time to walk through the Elbe Tunnel that runs under the river. Built around the same time FC St Pauli were established, it is an amazing half-kilometer saunter from one side to the other (and back again), book-ended by the biggest elevators you’ll probably ever go in.
With Dublin and Amsterdam also included on the trip, there was plenty of flying and lounging around in airports time to continue reading ‘The Fallen: Life in and Out of Britain’s Most Insane Group’ – a 2009 book by Dave Simpson who made it his quest to track down all the ex-members of The Fall. Even if the band were not of particular interest to you, this makes compelling, sometimes jaw-dropping reading.
With us getting kicked out of the German and Dutch bars; sometimes as late as at 6am, the body-clock disruption led to a jet-lagged feeling when we returned to the cold harsh reality of real life back at home. This was slightly warmed by winning a competition set by the Music & Elsewhere label and fifteen CDs greeted me on arrival back in the Disunited Kingdom – I was particularly pleased to see that New York noise-niks Holland/Skin/Tunnel were included in the package, and I’ll be sifting through these during the course of the next few weeks and include highlights on my Louder Than War radio show. In the meantime click this link for the magic portal to the underground.
With year-end fast approaching, I’ll be compiling a Review Of 22 radio show to air on Monday 2nd January – it’ll most certainly be including Pete Bentham & The Dinner Ladies, whose latest album I have just reviewed for Louder Than War.