Just A Friend by BIZ MARKIE, as one of the greatest songs ever written, comes from an era when fun still was a good thing. Colours were bright, body movements sloppy, outfits, though ironic, naive and honest. The song’s simple melody has the power to turn a shitty scene into something great. It could easily cause a riot on any kindergarten’s playground, as it fires up the smiley faces at a chilled out party. And here ‘at the Temple of Rave‘ (as NENEH CHERRY described it later that night) this tune, once again, celebrated its triumph.
Entering the building two-piece UMA already play their set. The high grey concrete venue is dominated by epic speakers. In contrast, the stage seems almost non existent, light. Like a platform in a modern art space, it presents its exhibit, forces the performer into merciless focus. You either go under over its weight, or use it as a medium utterly direct and powerful. Probably from Berlin (they spoke German, but I did not want to start further research) UMA played some kind of slow burning R&B influenced electronica and underlined, again, that the peak of this music may lie way back somewhere in the past 3 years. Boring, though very cute, they seemed not to have the slightest clue what they were doing. Luckily, layering arty sound over sound and sloppily touching and knobbing different kinds of gadgets still is not building a gripping arrangement.
‘Flooding bass lines and precisely flying drums’
I was pissed. Got myself an orange juice. Watched the crowd yawn until the show was over. The DJ started tuning in songs, though referring to Hip Hop, fitting the exhausting set we (the well mixed crowd, average age 36) were just witnessing before. Already expecting the worst: Until Just A Friend pushed the following into another dimension and called the flirting NENEH CHERRY up on stage.
Wearing a neon orange dress, glowing in ultraviolet light, she started right in rapping, shaking, freaking out: Across the Water and Blank Project. On record, these songs are not exactly what you’d consider being straight enlightening. But they fired up the Berghain-crowd as fast as those pills everyone is talking about probably do. Breathing in, ‘affengeil’ I thought and softly leaned on the stick I brought, drank the refreshing juice and let my jar fall into stunned position. My silk tuxedo’s wings were flapping.
Flooding bass lines and precisely flying drums. It should only be a matter of time as people would start to dance. The cathedral like venue would eventually lay its burden on those people here. And it did. I had to change position. Wander through the dark corners, watch the nerds, the kissing couples, the ugly and hip, the stalking, the lonely and others. They were all there. Some stuck in the late 80s, some stuck in modern times, all wearing similar haircuts. From what I remember: NENEH CHERRY and her incredibly tight grooving band, Ben and Tom Page, played her entire new record Blank Project. The encore was a new arrangement of Buffalo Stance of course.
Towards the end of this furious show NENEH CHERRY, in total entity of her heart, the applause and love, aphoristically described her state of mind as: ‘There is nothing better than coming to your 50s, riding on a RocketNumberNine.‘ I kind of knew what was meant and am pretty sure most of the others did as well. Thanks.