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The Posies
Gleis 22 Club, Münster, Germany 07.11.2000

When you go see a show, you have certain expections, don't you? Since I had the great fortune to see the "trial show" for this reunion tour - which saw The Posies mainmen Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer play as a duo and acoustic - in their hometown of Seattle this past Februray, I even knew what to expect: An 80 minute show, packed with their greatest hits and a few rarities and maybe a cover or two. Or so I thought. Because tonight's "experience" (not gonna call it a "show") in Münster proved me wrong, wrong, wrong. The set was a hit-free zone and they didn't even play a single song from the only Posies album that ever made any sort of impact in Germany, 1993's Frosting On The Beater!

Ken and Jon took to the stage in the tiny Gleis 22 club at around 11pm and though it was obvious that they had been drinking (what some people thought to be mineral water was actually Vodka) they managed to deliver the goods with a strong Hate Song as the opener, a lovely You're The Beautiful One (Ken said he couldn't start the song before everybody in the front row was holding hands - they did!), a note perfect rendition of World and a couple of surprising choices, namely their Reality Bites-song Going, Going, Gone and Like Me Too from their impossible to find first album, Failure.

Then the whole show fell apart. Well, kinda. Ken announced that for the rest of the night they would only do songs off Failure, "because nobody knows it and we like to torture you" (or something to that effect). So they did Ironing Tuesday followed by a 30 minute (!) debate about heroin, small children, small children filled with heroin, the US general election (which was happening that day), the German TV Programme, of which Stringfellow only seemed to like The Simpsons and other random stuff which showed the band's pedilection for slightly sick humor. (Sample: Audience member: Do you know how many executions there are in Texas [George W. Bush's home state] today? Ken: Don't know, but I'm sure if he wins there are gonna be some volunteers screaming "Take me, take me"!). Every once in a while they would start a cover version (among them The Zombies' Leave Me Be, REM's So. Central Rain, Bob Dylan's Lay Lady Lay and some Led Zeppelin tunes), fuck it up and stop again. After those 30 minutes they came to the conclusion that they would get paid for a show, but that it was debatable whether their stand-up comedy act actually would qualify as a rock concert.

They managed to pull themselves together for a bit, did a fantastic Apology, a very welcome September Gurls (by Big Star) and Fall Apart With Me, apparently written by Ken about a former lover from France (don't forget it was hard to seperate fact and fiction tonight!) They even managed to squeeze in a couple of requests, a stunning slow version of Grant Hart and I May Hate You Sometimes, another fine track from Failure and a personal favorite of yours truly. After a very entertaining 90 minutes the show was about to be over, but after a short break - during which Jon handed out free beer from the fridge in the backstage room to the people in the front row - they returned for what everybody thought would be a short encore.

It was actually more of a second set, because what followed was a 13-song, 75-minute "encore", made up entirely of cover versions, real songs this time, not the half-remembered attempts at doing covers from the first set. Among them three Beatles tunes back-to-back. Dear Prudence followed Long, Long, Long and it was during this song that Ken grabbed the setlist from the floor and threw it into the audience, showing that they had given up on doing anything that would remotely resemble a preplanned set. Jon Auer nearly fell of his chair laughing when Ken sang "had a drink or two, but I don't care" during I Don't Want To Spoil The Party, which was followed by another Big Star song, Thirteen, a fine Replacements tune (Swinging Party), a handful of Neil Young songs and Joe Jackson's Is She Really Going Out With Him?. And, without disrespect to the guys as songwriters, the most amazing tune all night was probably the obscure 70s sould classic O-o-h Child by the Five Stairsteps, which - with an awesome a-capella ending - proved that the guys have two of the finest voices around. At the very end we also got a hilarious Joe Cocker impersonation, which was even topped with a rendition of "an old American folk song written by Francis Scott Key". Yes, they even did the US National Anthem (as heard on their recent 4CD Boxset At Least, At Last) and followed it with some Ice Cube! At the very end they even smashed some bottles (rock n roll riot, MAN!) and closed off this two and a half hour extravaganza with Frank Sinatra's New York, New York.

As I said before, this performance doesn't do the term rock concert justice. It was more of a three part revue. Partly a concert, partly stand up comedy, partly jam session. But don't get me wrong - it was great, great fun, just a big party really and I for one enjoyed every second of to to the max.

Copyright © 2000 Carsten Wohlfeld e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Posies articles/reviews: - an interview with Ken and Jon, an interview with Ken Stringfellow.

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