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Fabrik, Hamburg, Germany (November 13, 2002)

Hamburger ladies

Berlin's Ostbahnhof is not such a bad place to sleep. The metal benches might be hard, but they actually heat the place and it's meticulously clean. I had partaken of the Wirerider as it would have been rude to refuse those Becks. So when I went back to the station which is adjacent to Maria to check the travel times to Hamburg, somehow I dozed off and didn't wake until the sun rose.

I wasn't in a sightseeing mood so I just hopped on a train to Hamburg, nodding in and out of consciousness as windmills sped by cross country and This Heat leaked from my headphones. Time passed, as it often does. No black horses were fighting for their lives.

Hamburg is a city so efficiently run, its hard for a slack Englishman to believe the Germans aren't half robotic. Somehow I found myself on a wide street with moderately unattractive ladies lurching out of every portal, propositioning me for lascivous activity. I think they wanted me to pay them, but unfortunately I'm such a music bore that my idea of an afternoon well spent in a foreign city is toĘbrowse the record shops, rather than picking up some exotic venereal disease.

Hooked up with my old friend Ollie a couple of hours before 'Burntime'. He types up footie match reports on the Internet for a living, which is quite a good job to have if you are crazy about men kicking a ball around a field as a form of entertainment. Later he would tell Graham Lewis, not once, but twice, that he looked like Vinnie Jones. A few beers at his flat listening to Flaming Lips, Bohren und der Club of Gore and my tape of Read and Burn 02 was a good kick off to the night.

Trammed to Fabrik which is one of the most f——ing stupendously excellent venues I've ever been in. It has a heavy industrial ambience, being a former warehouse and many floors tower up above the stage to dark pinnacles, jutting jags of wood and metal. It seemed like Germans were milling up above the grinders, peering out at the un-Spent spectacle from various vantage points in every nook and cranny. On arrival, Appliance had already taken the stage but I was feeling too dazed to enjoy their set, which had seemed better paced in Berlin. They're one of those bands who I quite enjoy when I hear them yet wouldn't really choose to listen to. Damn the lucky bastards who got Oxes as support in the USA!

The beer flowed in torrents. The first floorshaking drones of 99.9 had us barreling into the frontlines, grinning like monkeys caught stealing. In the event lightning struck twice and Wire were only fractionally less incendiary than they had been the night before. The major difference was a quieter sound due to PA limiters. That naughty man, Colin Newman, suffered from guitar strap failure on Germ Ship, which was a shame as it had been one of the highlights the night before. But as the guitar dropped out, the bass leapt in becoming quicker, like a dub mix, and Colin was soon back on the game strumming like a bemused duck on organic pigspeed and cowcrack. The grimaces of the Gilbert were almost invisible he was so far back and faced off. Spent was absolutely monstrous, ripping spacetime holes with apocalyptic fervour. My most vivid memory now is of tearing out of the toilet as the encore strains of Reuters piped up, back to the stage. Suddenly a sea of pink flags appeared. Some brilliant joker must've made these paper pink flags especially for the occasion and the Hamburgers were heralding the ultimate Wiresong they all wanted and got. Pow! Pow! Pow!

Lowdown was left way downĘbetween the lucky legs of Berlin, but they did Drill until Bruce stalked off stage. Someone chucked a can of beer at him during the Dugga, but he said that was entirely unconnected to his exit. Graham was last to leave. You get the impression that he'd stay on all night and keep Wiring if the others could keep up.

Graeme Rowland

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