Just back and in recovery mode after another excellent trip abroad to see the boys from Blue October. First stop on our road trip was Frankfurt, Germany – the blue crew met at the airport reporting for duty, one man and six women. After landing we picked up the nine-seater white van aka ‘the pimp-mobile’ with P-Diddy with his six chicks! We stayed in the Marriot which was only 15 minutes from the airport and attached luckily to a large shopping centre, NordWestZentrum.
The Frankfurters we met were a friendly bunch and Frankfurt was relatively cheap. We didn’t see much of the city but it looks pretty industrial and I read all about it in Cara, the Aer Lingus magazine – apparently it is known as “Manhattan” because of its skyscraper skyline or “Bankfurt” due to its numerous banks – those funny Frankfurters with their keen sense of humour.
That first night, we had Gold tickets allowing us access to the soundcheck and a meet & greet with the band. The venue was about ten minutes away by taxi in a funky venue with cool graffiti of the Muppets on the outside.
There was a short queue and many of them knew each other from Facebook and Open Book (the Blue October Forum) which led to a funny exchange between P-Diddy and another true Blue fan which went like this:
“Are you my friend on Facebook?” asked P-Diddy
To which she replied, “No”
We all laughed as it sounded like we were right back in the playground. There was a real international feel to their fanbase, apart from our Irish contingent, we met the Germans, the Slovakians and the Americans. We met two ladies who travelled over from Ohio especially to see the band. Sis confused Ohio with Idaho and so began a weird conversation about potatoes!
While waiting around there were other funny incidents like the band having to beat down the door of the venue to get in and the bouncer not believing that they were in the band! There was Justin, Jeremy and Ryan banging on the door and saying, “Let’s go see these guys. I heard they were pretty good”. It was a good distraction from the cold. The drummer from the support band also had a similar problem but he had a drum stick so he was let through. P-Diddy said he’d try next if only he had a microphone, I was going to try with my air guitar but luckily neither of us had to as the doors opened shortly after for the soundcheck. We were all stamped “Cool” on the way in.
The venue was small but compact with a nice stage and no barriers so the fans could get up close and personal. There was a disco ball in the centre and five small chandeliers around the room with the bar towards the back. They played three songs (Clumsy Card House; James and Holler) which were a taster for later and a glimpse into the set-list. We had to watch from the bar.
Afterwards Justin finished it off by saying “Let’s go meet these guys” and we were told to form an orderly queue to get our free posters signed. The lads were all lovely and polite and didn’t mind signing my crazy-making book as well as my poster. We were then told to get into line again for photos with the band. We got a great group shot with all the band which was lovely and Justin told us us Irish always smell so good we must dip each other in soap before we go out! While it was nice to see the soundcheck and meet the band, I’m not sure if I would do the Gold ticket thing again as it was a little militant and cringe-worthy although the band were really nice about it and what I like about Blue October apart from great music, awesome performances and meaningful songs, they are also great with their fans and very appreciative. Although there was what shall be forever known as the wool incident which left me a little unimpressed with Ryan but he redeemed himself the next night with an apology after being told off by both his mum and my sis. We were kicked out of the venue and found a small bar over the bridge to warm us with a pre-gig drink until the gig started. We ran into the German contingent in the bar. P-Diddy knows them all the true blue fans and they all know him.
The doors opened at 8pm but the support didn’t come on till 9pm. They were Blackmarket, an American band who won their spot via a Myspace competition. It was their last night playing support so Jeremy brought them shots on stage and Ryan played one song with them.
They were okay but played quite a long set and it felt like we were waiting forever for the main act. While waiting we kept hearing a bicycle bell which apparently was to signal that the breadman cometh – yep they sell pretzels at the gig! I was lucky enough to get a spot right up front which is the best way to view a gig when you’re a smallie like me and you have the feeling that Justin is singing right to you. They didn’t come on till after 10pm but the moment they did the atmosphere was electric and the crowd ate up every moment. Justin has styled himself with a one-handed glove in red and black and I love Ryan’s violins come in the rainbow colours of Red, White, Blue and Green.
Blue October are the best live band around at the moment and I’ve seen quite a few – Justin is a real performer on stage and puts so much energy into every performance dripping with emotion as well as sweat! And not to mention the magic that happens between the rest of the band – Jeremy, CB, Matt and Ryan [Didn’t get any decent pics of Jeremy]. It just wouldn’t be the same without all of them. They really connect with the audience and for that hour and a half we all just live in the moment savouring every single word and beat of the songs.
They have a core set list which included (and forgive me if I get this wrong):
Say It; On the Ride Home; Been Down; Picking Up Pieces; Congratulations; Into The Ocean; Schizophrenia; X Amount of Words; Come in Closer; Sound of Pulling Heaven Down; Should Be Loved; Dirt Room; My Never; Amnesia; Quiet Mind
with the Encore songs being: PRN; Jump Rope; Hate Me to finish. Each night they change a few songs. That first night two of the rotations song they played were Clumsy Card House and Balance Beam both of which I love.
The next morning we had a swim in the huge swimming pool with slides attached the hotel to refresh and recharge the batteries – I couldn’t think of a better way to start the day and it felt like we were on holidays. After a quick breakfast we checked out and hit the road for a two and a half hour road trip to Luxembourg – thank god for Sat Nav. We had a lovely note from the American ladies on our windscreen telling us they’d see us in Luxembourg. We had a few pit stops – a toilet stop complete with swiveling seats and telling you to ‘enjoy the experience’. It was well worth the 50 cent! Luxembourg looks to be a very pretty city not that we saw that much of it but we were all wondering what Luxembourg was famous for. That was the hot topic during the car journey. Having arrived in the city centre we found and checked into our hotel which was minutes away from the venue and opposite the Central Railway station.
We arranged to meet down at reception to grab a bite before the gig. After battling with the rotating shower head which swung around as if possessed by the exorcist, sis and I arrived promptly and were rewarded by a surreal experience of meeting Justin skipping out of the lobby with a cup of coffee. He was staying in the same hotel and even revealed his room number – Justin your secret was safe with us. After a quick bite we walked down to the venue stopping to ask a prostitute for directions as you do and passing a good few sex shops – maybe we had found what Luxembourg was famous for!
Arriving at the gig, already a large queue had formed but luckily they had opened the doors and we got in pretty quickly and once again were lucky enough to get a spot in the front. The venue was the largest I’ve seen them play in and also the nicest with an upstairs balcony but there were downsides to this like the fact there was a gap between stage and audience for the first time and also the bouncers were stopping people from taking photos and videos. There was no support that night which was perfect. It was also the last night of their tour so the lads were truly on form.
They kicked off with Weight of the World and that night the rotation songs were James, Holler and my favourite 18th Floor Balcony. Justin dedicated Jump Rope to two kids in the audience and sang it to them which was sweet.
Afterwards the lads stayed around to greet fans, take photos and sign merchandise. We stayed around chatting with the die-hard fans who by now had become friends. We went to the funkiest bar just down the road from the venue called Chocolate Elvis.
All the die-hards were there, the music was great and the craic was mighty and the band even showed up minus CB. It was great to hang out with them and as it was their last night of touring they could relax and enjoy themselves. Another surreal moment happened when they played The End by Blue October and there we were all singing along with the band to their own song. Jeremy was such a sweetheart – so polite and friendly. Two of the die-hards got their car locked in the carpark so were stranded but rescued by P-Diddy who offered to share his small single room with them. We said our goodbyes after a fun-filled night and headed back to the hotel hoping for a nightcap. Unfortunately by the time we got back the bar was closed, well I guess it was 2am and time for bed.
After a lovely breakfast, we all met in reception to check out and we were on the road back to Frankfurt early. We took the scenic route through the picturesque snow-covered forests stopping off for a snow ball fight and getting beeped at by the police.
As it was still early when we reached Frankfurt, we headed back to the NordWestZentrum for some chill out time before heading to the airport. By that stage, we were the people in bits on tour! En route to the airport, we were stopped by the Polizei (Police) who took us off the motorway before stopping. We are still not sure why they stopped us! Perhaps snowball fights are illegal in Germany. And so an uneventful flight and we were back in the homeland. Here’s to saving for the next trip – I think I may have joined the die-hards!