"Gimle", Roskilde, Denmark, 6 May 2005
Recently, I was given a demonstration of how to Russian dance to The Proclaimers' 500 Miles by a 16-stone Swiss student in Copenhagen; soon after I was offered to go see a veteran Danish U2 tribute band with a German name. If the Socrates/Erasmus year abroad is good for anything, it's supplying an endless combination of unique situations that, in retrospect, get more and more delightfully absurd.
The CLUAS Verdict? 7 out of 10
Full review: Needless to say I was quite excited: being a U2 fan I would have the opportunity to hear all my favourite songs live, even if it wasn't the real thing. It would also allow me to assess the international take on our second most popular export, having immensely enjoyed our own Dublin-borne tribute Rattle & Hum on two occasions.
Gimle is a tidy, bright venue with voluntary staff and an easy air, and by the 9pm starting time it began to fill up; but instead of beautiful young Danes we noticed a vast majority of aged clientele: the place was positively teeming with mums and dads and, it seemed, their parents as well.
At around 9.15pm, a motley group of stagehands made their way through the crowd and onto the stage to prepare for the band. I then realised that they WERE the band. After the delightful copy-cat antics of Rattle & Hum in Dublin, where every attainable detail down to the red stitching on Bono's leather jacket was emulated, I was surprised to see how little effort Die Herren put into their appearance. 'Bono' had short-cropped blonde hair, a second-hand leather biker's suit and a distinct lack of iconic sunglasses, 'Adam' was tall and bulky, 'Larry' was lanky and mop-haired. 'The Edge', however, was indeed like The Edge - bald, goateed and with rage in his eyes. And then 'Bono' strutted around the stage as if he owned the place with a wry, knowing smile on his lips. That's more like it.
'Bono' opened the show with a protracted gargle called the Danish language, while my two Irish friends and I stood there feeling far removed from the proceedings. They then launched into I Still Haven't Found? - an unusual opener, I thought. But play they did, and with accuracy that could only be gleaned from experience - 14 years worth of experience, in fact, as Die Herren have been going since the Achtung Baby days of 1991. They then followed with a few favourites, such as Even Better Than the Real Thing, New Year's Day, Angel of Harlem, and Desire, but no real show-stoppers were produced, and momentum was hampered by unintelligible monologues between each song. Eventually they threw themselves into a succession of heavier numbers, beginning with Where the Streets?, followed by Miracle Drug, With or Without You and Love and Peace, amongst others. Gimle heated up, smoke filled the room, the oldies yelped, swung and chanted, and Die Herren were in full swing.
They recessed after a sweaty hour and a half, before diving into another hour of classics, covering almost everything from I Will Follow to the recent Sometimes? Gimle heaved with quadragenarian energy - 'Bono' posed, swayed, and ran around around the front of the crowd, getting his picture taken with some of the younger and more attractive females in the front; he piercingly stared you in the eyes and wailed as though his life depended on it, and at one point ran off stage to fetch a box on which to stand and observe his legion of fans, before producing a disposable camera to capture all the eager faces looking up at him. 'The Edge', meanwhile, was virtually indistinguishable from the real thing, perfectly replicating Dave Evans' legendary shimmering, echoing guitar and effectively provided the entire backbone to the concert. 'Larry' was cheerful and 'Adam' sang along, as Die Herren emphatically honoured the Irish giants.
The performance wasn't flawless, however. Die Herren failed to do justice to a number of songs, namely Elevation and Vertigo, and at times 'Bono' seemed embarrassingly like someone's drunken dad at a karaoke night. It occurred to me a number of times during the night that this is disturbingly what Paul Hewson would be like had he not made it in the music business. But the concert, in its 2 hour and 40 minute entirety, was a success, and when hounded on for an encore they surprised us with a great rendition of Electrical Storm before finishing with All I Want is You. An exciting prelude to Croke Park in June?
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