This was the Stadwerkfest in Potsdam, just about a half hour outside of Berlin (pictures here!). The crowd was huge: I heard an estimate of easily over 20,000. Six bands played, including Jethro Tull as the ending set of the evening just after Procol Harum had concluded, and prior to a fine laser show.
Initially there were a few equipment problems and staging matters, but most everything came together. As I walked towards the staging area, I passed by numerous food and other vendor-type booths. There was even a whole carnival game-zone setup to the rear of the giant park.
Initially, I had some difficulties getting backstage as the band hadn't arrived and John and Ron were busy working with some stage and equipment issues. Eventually, after getting past the German language barrier and one fairly nasty security guard, I was able to convince a security guy who got me clearance as the reporter for BtP.
As I waited with the crew by the trailers as they frantically took care of matters, the band finally arrived. The band onstage was going through some cross-sound of Nine Inch Nails and German metal rap, and had the crowd going nuts singing along. Obviously, a known band to the festival's patrons.
Sometime around 8.30 Procol and the rest of us made our way towards the stage. As the band was introduced, I walked around to the front of the stage and jumped into the photo well for pix with the likes of photographers from Rolling Stone Magazine. After some close shots, I went out amongst the crowd and worked my way across to the other side where I attempted to get some pix from Gary's side. The video people shooting for live shots on the two big screens on either side of the stage were there, so I couldn't move as freely.
Then, wouldn't you just know it, there was the same security guy who I had my initial troubles with. He started moving towards me to get out of that area, so I moved back a bit and flashed my pass. But he wouldn't let it go, and kept moving towards me and staring at me. I just kinda motioned to the crowd at the barrier behind me that the guy was a bit nuts and they all started staring at him. He moved back to his station and I got my victory dance and a few more pix. I didn't stay long and went back out to the back of the crowd for a panorama shot.
The sound was crisp and clear. Certainly, it was better towards the front, which is where I went for the last six or seven songs. The crowd was appreciative, but really got into it as Simple Sister began. From that point on, the crowd was erupting to every song. A number of people were noticeably videoing the show. As the set was concluding, I discovered at the other side of the stage there was a side-stage area where I went for the final shots of AWSoP.
Back at the trailers, the band relaxed a bit, signed some autographs for other crews, band members, and backstage guests. Gary was interviewed by a number of journalists for wh at appeared to be a combination of publications and TV. Afterwards, we spent about an hour hanging around as Tull played. But incredibly, this guy was talking to Matt prior to JT going onstage, and he had on a matching shirt and bandana. I really wasn't sure who he was, just another member of Tull. Yet, when he left and went to the adjacent Tull trailers and I heard a flute, I realised I had missed my opportunity to grab a picture. Yes, by now you know how stupid I felt. But I thought he was taller!
As Tull ended, we all went out into the crowd for a fine ten-minute laser show. Matt and I moved to the centre in front of the soundboard-riser to catch the streams of lights crossing directly overhead. Seemed like '67 all over again, if you get what I mean? Back to the trailers, into vans, and off to the band's hotel where a couple of Tull band members joined us for drink, discussion, and a peanut-tossing contest. (I guess when you get our age, that's about all one can toss!)
A cab was called, and I got back to my hotel sometime past 4.00 am. Of course there was a continuum moment which was defined by listening to the new Van der Graaf Generator on my mp3 player. As I was driven by cab down the highway towards Potsdam, the sign read "Potsdam/Babelsberg." The song I was listening to is called "In Babelsberg." I guess it was meant for me to be there ...
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