Berlin-Hannover 15, 16, 17 May

Berlin, 15 May

Awake at 5:30 this morning…wide awake and ready to go. Tried to get back to sleep with no luck and threw open the curtains, ordered up a pot of coffee, read the paper and began the day. Went to the hotel gym for a full push, got all my e-mails written and answered and began gathering my suitcase together to leave and it was still only 9 o’clock. Long day ahead. We departed Cologne bound for Berlin and I did manage an in-flight cat nap. We landed in Berlin’s ‘ghost airport’ Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport. A massive high tech facility that has never opened since ground was broken in 2006 due to mismanagement and crucial mistakes made in construction. It’s original cost estimate was €2 billion that estimate now soars at €7.3 billion. The airport is a comedy of errors, government mismanagement , an embarrassment and financial drain to the city of Berlin. Many say it will never open and should be scrapped and rebuilt. Gates sit empty, monitor screens glow and apart but it is is deserted. The new opening date is 2020 but there’s quite a lot of skepticism as more money is thrown at it. You can read all the tragic details here: At any rate it seems they are allowing private and corporate plane use as they don’t require the terminal facilities. We made our way through late afternoon traffic to the Mercedes-Benz Arena for a quick soundcheck, dinner and an 8 o’clock show followed by a runner to our hotel in this city. The Augustiner Beirgarten Restaurant is only a few blocks away and is never missed by us. Tonight was no exception as we devoured grilled sausages, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut all washed down with their signature Augustiner Helles lager. A grand way to end this day.

Hanover, 16 May

Don’t know what’s up with my sleep cycle but it was an early one again this morning. Rang down for a pot of coffee at 7:30 then opened the curtains and window to a cool, grey drizzle. I wrung four cups of coffee out of the pot, read the N.Y. Times, climbed back in bad and when I opened my eyes again it was noon. Shower, pack the day bag and down to the lobby where the waiting cars took us back to Berlin’s ghost airport for the short flight to Hannover. Our air hostess Daniella is back with us for another run and she knows what this group likes having flown many miles with us on past tours. A tasty light Mediterranean lunch was served, devoured and swept away in a matter of minutes. The TUI Arena was our office for tonight, full to a capacity 8,700 folks. These tours always take a couple of weeks to really get solidly on it’s feet but we’re there now with consistently great shows to wonderful audiences. Tonight’s was no exception, thank you Hannover. A runner back to the plane, Daniella had drinks waiting or freshly poured for everyone and served another delicious meal of Thai curries and fish cakes in the short amount of time it took to return to Berlin, all the while managing to keep drinks topped up. Our Guy, Pete and Ianto all helpiing to serve and tidy giving Daniella a hand. Landed back at the ghost airport around midnight, a 25 minute drive to our hotel and I was happy to call it a day. Tomorrow is a day off in Berlin.

Berlin, 17 May

A day off in Berlin that was spent in the gym, lunch with Jim Cox at Augustiner and walking. I attended the Glen Hansard show in the evening with Mike, his son Rory and John at the Admiralspalast concert hall. Hansard is a great singer and songwriter as well as actor and activist. It was a brilliant performance with his great band that included a string trio, guitarist from Spain and musical influences from Celtic to Iranian. Powerful, dynamic songs and performances to match, it was one of the best shows I’ve seen. If he is ever performing in your area, don’t miss him. After the show the four us ended up at Augustiner for beer and sausages and following that we had a pint with Glen Hansard’s sound man, Leon, who Mike knows and it was Leon who’d arranged the tickets. Got back to my hotel at 1 and glad to hit the hay. A perfect day off and a lucky life. Tomorrow we decamp Europe for a while and head back to the U.K. for a series of shows there that will take us through the first week of June.

Richard Bennett