WOW! Watta event! I was in Berlin, a capital of Germany, on my own. So while I was walking to the Arena, I was thinking about a lot of things. How many people will be there? Will I meet someone to talk with? And the lineup? The last question was answered in a minute. A lady from the ticket office was sticking the paper with lineup to the wall right in time, when I was walking around. So I saw, that as a first group will perform local Nomad Soundsystem, second the main star of this event - Nitin Sawhney with his new album Philtre tour, third Visionary Underground - the reason, why I am in Berlin and the show will be ended by british garage soul hip hop - Buttercuts 400, which I didn't know.', 'After a few minutes waiting, two cigarettes and one nice talk with a guy, which was promoting another show I went to pick up my tickets. I had one extra, so I gave it to some lady, which stood in front of the case in the large queue waiting for a ticket. So I was let in. The Arena Berlin has its swimming pool and a beach - right in front of the hall, so I went to check it out, because I still had a plenty of time. After a few while I have met a nice girl Johanna. She was there alone too, finishing her work to school and after a long time being closed at home and working she need to relax, so we went for a beer inside.
After a few moments the show get started. The hall wasn't full, but still there was a lot of people - an ideal combination. Local band - Nomad Soundsystem with japanese DJ Tomoki, Shazam! on bass and turntables, Karim Sfaxi - the tunisian vocalist, David Beck on guitar and algerian percussionist Milhoud Messabith had a huge audience - I even didn't ecpected so many people. The band is now releasing the debut album, so the performance on the stage was full of energy and eastern riddims.
Again, as almost everywhere in the west-european clubs, the sound was brilliant. Shame on Czech Republic sound managers. Arena Berlin is a normal industrial building, but the sound managers did a great job!
After fifty minutes was the Nomad Soundsystem show over, the crowd was very satisfied. Now it was time for Nitin Sawhney. I have to say, that it was one of the best concerts of this year so far i have seen. Nitin, playing the keyboards and acoustic guitar with the huge live band (4 vocalists, a drummer, guitar and bass players) made the crowd totally wild. The sound was soo brilliant, some songs made me nearly cry - THAT brilliant it was. Many songs was from his last album Philtre - an outstanding mixture of the indian traditional music, bengali folk, flamenco, drum'n'bass, hip-hop and who knows what else... Especially the beatbox and freestyle solos of Jason Singh made people to give a huge support to the band. The essential part of the show was a video projection, where we could see for example George Bush's head and dog body eating hamburgers and drinking Coke. Although Nitin Sawhney says that he doesn't wanna be political, this was the clear message what he thinks about american president and the war in Iraq. After 80 minutes show there was one encore and then... I had to go to bar to score some drink, because I was totally exhausted - physically and emotionally. And I had to prepare myself for the Visionary Underground gig.
They started right on time. MC Mikie, vocalist Damion, DJ FeelFree and VJ Coco. Many people left after Nitin Sawhney gig, but there was still a good audience and people were enjoying music and giving a massive support to VU, especially when MC Mikie took his video camera and asked the crowd to make some noise for him. The beginning of the show was a little cold. Maybe because the mics were too loud and DJ FeelFree's sound was too quiet. But that wasn't a fault of the band, but sound manager messed this up. Luckily, this happened only exceptionally. But then - after my favourite song Redrum it started to be better, better and awesome. Damion and MC Mikie were rockin' the stage, DJ FeelFree was delivering some serious breakbeat and d'n'b sets, everything with a huge visual support of VJ Coco. Then, in the middle of the show, the special guest was invited to the stage. A legendary percussionist Pandit Dinesh. Again, there were some little problems with sound, but it was solved quite quickly. And from now on, the show started to rock like hell. The last song - a heavy d'n'b set with support of Mr. Dinesh was the top of the glacier.
I was totally physically destroyed, but there was still one more band. Buttercuts 400 - for me the biggest surprise of the evening. I didn't expect anything, but their performance was much better than i could have ever imagined. Two DJs, Three MCs and 2 vocalist with unbelievable 9 nationalities between them made an outstanding performance. Everyone who likes garage hip hop have to know this band, because they will be much more famous in the future, you can bet. Who likes Beastie Boys will be totally satisfied. A vocalist with "Cops take drugs" t-shirt, Dave Boomah was the most smiling person on the stage, along with sweet Zimbabwian vocalist Christabel. The most original guy, MC Wildeye with an old-fashioned hat on his head and a bottle of german beer in his hand was spitting the lyrics big-time. At the end of the show there was 2 d'n'b songs which almost blowed my head off with its power.
Then it was time to go home. Luckily the subway in Berlin goes non-stop during the weekend, so I didn't have to walk thru the whole city at half past three in the morning. I just want to thank my friend Johanna for some pictures in the photoreports and for her company. It was just another great evening...