Berlin Revisited (Part One)

Geeks on a staircase, Hansa Tonstudio, Berlin, 2009.
Geeks on a staircase, Hansa Tonstudio, Berlin, 2009.
[ pictures @ Flickr]

After a late night after the Leipzig show, we packed our bags and headed back to Berlin early the next morning. We were due to take a tour of legendary Hansa Tonstudio, where Depeche spent their “Berlin period,” recording Construction Time Again, Some Great Reward, and Black Celebration. Other music greats have also frequented Hansa, including David Bowie, U2 and Iggy Pop.

We toured the main remaining sound studio (Studio One) as well as the ballroom known for producing powerful, unique accoustics. U2 and Anton Corbijn also shot parts of the video for “One” in this ballroom. The tour guide was amusing, informative and had a lot of great, rare photographs of the various artists at work in and around the studio. There was also a neat video with various producers talking about their work there.

After coming out of the ballroom, I saw a bunch of people leaning over the rail, taking pictures of something on the lower level. I wondered what was so interesting, so I took a look for myself. We’d come up the staircase used for several Black Celebration promo photos and not even realized! Because we’re total geeks like that, we HAD to get a picture of us sitting on it from a similar angle (as you can see to the right).

Studio One was pretty awesome because they still have some of the same equipment originally used in the Berlin period, including the mixing desk (great for technology geeks!). This desk is still in regular use today and has been complimented by all the necessary equipment to work with the latest tools. This tiny mixing area had everything from tape machines to MacBook Pros – anything an artist might need was right there. We took pictures with the mixing desk too, but my camera had run out of charge. I’m waiting for Tara to get mine back to me. They even had a mousepad with artwork from DM’s “Precious” with the mac. ๐Ÿ˜‰

While at Hansa, I had started to feel a bit of tickles in my throat and a light cough. I was hoping it was just my allergies… After the Hansa tour wrapped up, we headed back to the hotel for some much needed sleep before the Depeche Mode convention we were to attend later that night.

Amanda and Tara at the Convention of the Universe, Berlin, 2009.
Amanda and Tara at the Convention of the Universe, Berlin, 2009. Photo courtesy of BlackCat.
Convention of the Universe
[ pictures courtesy of Black-Cat; Looking at that doofy pic on the left, now I know how performers feel when people snap pics mid-dance move! ]

After a nice dinner at our frequented Alex chain, we headed over to the Postbanhof for what promised to be a pretty rockin’ night. Nitzer Ebb and De/Vision live plus a night full of DJs spinning Depeche Mode and other awesome music? Recipe for an awesome time! I was very much looking forward to meeting some European fans from Home, a Depeche Mode fansite (the best unofficial site out there!) as well as dancing to their DJ sets. As we waited in line, I spied a certain precarious wall across the street covered in graffiti. I briefly wondered to myself if that was THE wall, but didn’t think any of it had been left up. A little more on this later.

Once inside, we were greeted by a table full of rare and collectible DM goodies. The hosts of this happenin’ shindig were none other than the #1 website for hardcore collecting of all things Depeche, depmod.com. Needless to say I wished I wasn’t on a limited budget! I am not on a quest to own every weird, rare DM item out there, but I have a few personal goals. One of which I scored here for a mere 10Euros: the transparent orange 12″ for “Never Let Me Down Again.” This vinyl goes for $25USD on eBay before shipping, but I picked it up for what amounted to $16USD. ๐Ÿ˜€ Hardly a super rare item, anyone who knows me well will know I wanted it because it’s bright orange with an almost neon luminance thanks to the transparency. Cool!

The party area consisted of two rooms – one was spinning DM tracks while the other was hosting the opening act. Tara and I got ourselves into position near the rail for De/Vision. I’d never seen De/Vision live. I only have two of their CDs, so I didn’t know many of the songs they played. However, that didn’t prevent me from having a good time at the show. Frontman Steffen commanded the stage with gusto and the crowd was bouncing with fervor. We met Steffen as we were leaving the party, had a chat and took some pictures. He was humble and down to Earth, a real nice guy. ๐Ÿ™‚

I had really been looking forward to the Nitzer Ebb show and they didn’t disappoint! I thought it might be a little rowdy and found myself perfectly content to stand next to the mixing desk in back and dance the night away with Tara. Ironically we were not in front this one time and later found out Martin Gore and Daniel Miller (Mute Records founder/man who “discovered” DM) were behind the barricades right of stage! Though I had unconfirmed info saying they would be there, I had doubts they would actually show up in such a small place packed with hardcore DM fans. I was wrong – I should have known from April 2007’s DJ gig that Mart’s a brave man!

Regardless, the atmosphere was charged, the band was pumped and we rocked out with our locks out (both of us had our hair down) and I was super stoked they played my favorite track, “Lightning Man.” Even though I really started feeling weird and exhausted by this point – I knew I should probably take it easy – I was so into the show I didn’t care and cut lose. It was a fantastic gig. After they finished, I was able to score the setlist from the sound technician. Woo! I like nice concert staff that grant my silly requests. ๐Ÿ™‚

After a short break, the concert room turned into an all-DM room, while the other room turned to playing other awesome electronic music. Tara and I took to the DM floor with enthusiasm while Tracy, Alex and Thomas chillaxed on the benches in the other room. I was keeping my eyes out for Peter and Niggels, two Homies I had wanted to meet. I caught the Fletchdancer, DJ Niggels, as he came down from the stage to check the sound. With a chivalrous bow and pecks on the hand, he introduced himself and the three of us shared a quick chat and dance before he had to get back to work. Haha, who knew Niggels was such a ladies’ man? ๐Ÿ˜‰ All in good fun of course. ๐Ÿ™‚ Tara and I continued to get down with our bad selves, as did everyone else including a guy who was rocking his Dave impression so hard he lost his footing and fell into me with pretty decent force. Ow, my shins. D:

Since we had to be up early the next morning to get in line for the show, we had set a 2am departure time. This meant we only really got to dance to the DM set for about an hour. We met up with Niggels again briefly, but I was never able to find Peter or any other Homies, sadly. Since we were lining up and travelling so much, placing a priority on trying to sleep we opted out of the gig after parties so I didn’t get to meet anybody at those either (but seriously, sleep was important since I was sick and Tara and Tracy didn’t want to catch what I had). I’m sure had I memorized the pictures thread, I would have recognized more people.. it wasn’t until I got home that I saw pictures and was like “Hey! I saw you!” Too late. XD

On the way out, Tara asked if I wanted a picture with the wall in question earlier. She explained that they had indeed left some of it up, so we crossed the street to take pictures. Let me just say being near a piece of history like that at 2-2:30am in the morning was pretty eerie! I found a patch of graffiti that had been painted with each year the wall stood, ending with 1989. Because my birth year (1983) was right next to the year the wall fell, I decided to take a picture next to it. Tara has the photo on her camera, so I’ll post it when I get it.

Then the adventure was on to find a way back to the hotel. All the trains for the night had left so we ended up calling a cab. By the time we’d arrived in our room, I had really started feeling sick.. My sinuses exploded and taking a couple of vitamins on an empty stomach came back to haunt me. D’oh! After a few fitful attempts I finally got to sleep. The next day would come quickly, and with it one of the best (if not THE best) DM concerts I’ve seen.

Amanda

Amanda is an enthusiastic, globe-trotting Mode fan who discovered the band in late 1998. Although she often feels like she got a late start in the Depeche Mode's career, she's survived nearly 20 years of the fandom, five new albums and multiple meetings with her love for the band intact (and stronger than ever). Amanda is a life-long creative, a classically trained graphic designer, working professionally as a User Experience Designer for one of the world's largest technology companies. When not at work or traveling for Depeche, she enjoys character illustration, comics, movies and Japanese Culture. And cats. Lots of Cats.