OK Afterworders, we all know that the first band on at Live Aid was ‘ver Quo, yes? Bonus points if anyone knows who was first on at Philadelphia? Yes, it was the Hooters, a band so ignored in the UK and long forgotten that they’re a bit like Iceland. 99% of people have never been, and 99% of the people who have, have only been to Reykjavik. As a test, see if you can name any other City in Iceland? As a further test, even if you’ve heard of them, how many of you own a Hooters album? The defence rests, your Honour.
Philadelphia’s finest, The Hooters are in fact, still going, especially popular in Germany, and, here’s the thing, I utterly absolutely and fantastically love them. Ostensibly, they’re the band who harbour the uber hit song writers Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman (One of US, Time after Time, Private Emotion, Old Before I Die, Gimme a Stone and a fair few others) and they play a kind of music that is somewhere between roots, rock, folk, reggae and ska, with mighty tunes, the kind of choruses you can’t stop humming and a joy it’s wonderful to behold.
This was the third time me and my mate Phil have been to Germany especially to see them (Calw in 2010 and Berlin last summer) and it didn’t disappoint.
The Markthalle in Hamburg is almost full, a venue of about 1,200 capacity with a standing plan so good, it’s hard to not have a great view. No support, the lights go down at8.10, and the band bound on (despite most of them being (charitably) 55+) and leap straight into a cover of the first verse and chorus of The Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire, a song that seems eerily prescient given that the G20 is in town. Then it’s straight into the celebration that is I’m Alive, the lead track off the comeback studio album of 2007. The early part of the set is made up of album tracks old and new, and the band look like they’re having the time of their lives. Hyman directing the band from his unusually forward facing keyboards, Bazilian handling most of the vocals. The audience cheer mightily and sing along with almost every word. The European and seemingly worldwide (except the UK) hit “All You Zombies” is played early, as is the second of a series of “other people’s songs”, Private Emotion, sung partly in German. Boys of Summer is introduced as a tribute to previous touring mate Don Henley, 500 Miles (from their second album proper back in 1987) precedes Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, then we’re back to the best of the original stuff, played with heart and soul and smiles a mile wide. The wonderful Karla with a K sounds so utterly magic, I almost have a tear in my eye, and the glitterball gets an outing for the start of what most people know as their only “famous” song, Satellite. The set closer is their first “hit” And We Danced, a 1980s version of the recent mega hit Shut Up and Dance With Me. They’re not off long, and come back in unplugged style, to deliver 5 songs in a mini-set “acoustically”. As Eric said, as he walked back on, tongue firmly in cheek, “Yes, it’s a banjo, what the f&%k are you going to do about it..?”. Mr Big Baboon is dedicated to a certain US president, and Nervous Night gets a very rare outing.
The finale is a volley of covers; One of Us, a rocked up Time After Time, and Major Tom, a German special by Peter Schilling, known to me only as the theme song to the Channel 5 drama about Cold War East and West Germany that was on about a year or two back. The audience sang the chorus like they’d been told they had to lift the roof off the venue to survive the evening.
160 minutes after the start, they leave the stage to as big an ovation as I’ve ever seen a band get in my life, beaming wide. It’s rare a gig finds me singing virtually every song at the top of my lungs, but the Hooters do that to me. In short, they make me very happy, very glad to be alive, and remind me how very fortunate I am.
An utterly superb show, despite the number of “covers” (as Time After Time was actually one of “their” songs, covered by Cyndi Lauper, for example).
Life affirming and wonderful.
Age 45+ Germans of both sexes, and 2 English blokes with hoarse voices by the end. And an utterly lovely barmaid in a Pink Floyd vest top.
It made me think..
Music should always make you feel this way.
Roll on next year, where then?