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  • Writer's pictureJH


Photo by Alexandra Liebert

September 26, 2018

“I feel like we’re in Hansel and Gretel.”

- Sarah

“Are you Hansel or Gretel?”

- Ken

Schimmi tricked me.

She said she was planning to get me something a bit unexpected for my birthday, so I was full of anticipation when I saw her walk into last night’s venue in Hannover with a present. Schimmi has a twinkle. It was in full shimmer last night as I unwrapped what turned out to be a coffee mug with the word “superfan” written on it. Topical and very appropriate, at least until she told me to turn the mug around, where I found the logo of …

Bayern Munich.

I’m a little more subtle in my football propaganda. When I go into a sports store or market where they sell jerseys, I casually put an Arsenal sweater at the front of the rack. At very least I try to cover up the Barcelonas and Real Madrids and Man Uniteds. I’d cover up the Tottenham jerseys, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one anywhere.

I was touched last night by my European birthday celebration. We were in Hannover, Germany, at a classy listening room called Marlene. Dim light. Tables and chairs. It reminded me of the room we played in Vienna last time around. Not exactly a room for a rock concert, necessarily, though that’s the territory we were in by the end. It can be tricky for a band going into a new room. You don’t generally play the same show at Marlene that you play at Cowboy und Indianer on The Reeperbahn. Different vibe. Different audience. As a drummer, it can be tricky to find the levels for the room – the right volume, the right intensity, even the right sticks.

As we were setting up, the superfans began to arrive. Schimmi with her mug. Karin with an amazing cake that she made for me. And then, surprise of surprises, Tanja swept into the room with Heike – the two “striking” ladies we met in Lippstadt last year. Tanja’s been with us for a few shows along the way this time (and her immune boosting supplements have been a huge help), but we hadn’t seen Heike yet. We love Heike, and her presence at my little birthday celebration was a nice cherry on top. They also brought us chocolate cake and a bottle of red wine and a balloon that sings “Happy Birthday.” Such sweethearts!

The show turned out to be a lot of fun. It took a few songs to pull the crowd in and catch the vibe in the room, but Sarah always gets there eventually. We started gently enough, but by the end of the night – by request – we were rocking “Zombie” by The Cranberries with as much intensity as the room would allow. I’ll also say it’s fun playing “Happy Birthday” to myself, especially with the balloon singing along. Once again the crowd wanted encores and we obliged. Our grand statement of showmanship was a group karate kick delivered with our end-of-show bow. Eat your heart out, David Lee Roth!

After the show people lined up to meet Sarah and get autographs. We also asked the staff to bring out plates and cutlery so we could share the birthday cakes that Karin and Heike and Tanja brought to the gig. Gives me a warm feeling thinking about it now. I’ve written over and over again about how blessed I am to have been on these tours with Sarah. There are so many people, places, and experiences in my life now that wouldn’t be there otherwise and I don’t take them for granted. You’ll be sick of hearing me say it, but it all still comes down to taking a chance on what you love.

Later we shared a nightcap with Tanja and Heike and once again set our wheels on the road. We don’t normally have long drives after gigs on these tours, but last night we had about and hour and a half on the road to our hotel. We drove deeper into east Germany, and then suddenly upwards into some mountains that we didn’t even know existed. There were winding roads and tiny, silent villages. A full, shining moon and animals scurrying along the highway. Frankly, it started to get creepy, especially when the GPS’s voice randomly dropped about an octave. At one point we crept around another dark corner and into another dozing village and Sarah whispered, “Are the doors locked?”

But it was fine. It's always fine. After an hour or so of inching through the darkness we drove into a charming little village in the mountains. The ever-faithful GPS, normal voice restored, led us to our hotel and we found our rooms.

This morning I’m looking out the window at grey skies and a long line of tall evergreen trees on the horizon. Sister Amy, can you picture it? There are hills folding in on each other, green and brown with brush and grass. I see old houses and orange roofs. A stone wall that runs along the narrow road. In the distance I see a world speckled with yellow. Fall settling on the mountains like a scarf. It’s a beautiful picture, but it’s a picture I’m not going to take. I’ll try to place this one in my memory instead of my phone – a sacred space for a sight you shouldn’t be able to erase with the press of a button.

Photo by Dani Smile

All of this adds up to a birthday I’ll remember forever. I want to thank everyone who made it special for me, from the fans to my bandmates. You’re all very good to me – and good for me – and I want you to know how much I appreciate you.

But I’ll warn you now that being 45 doesn’t make me an adult.

Rock and roll!

* Thank you Lexi and Dani for the live photos!

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