It was with much anticipation we arrived in Dresden last night. Slightly earlier than planned, we luxuriated in the Kempinski, a ‘proper’ hotel right in the heart of the old town. The area in the centre of the city known as Neumarkt is built on a slight rise above the Elbe river which has for centuries, and continues to be flood prone. In 2002 the river rose to ‘once in a century’ heights and a few weeks ago it nearly happened again. At that time there was some doubt as to whether our show might take place, thankfully the floodwaters receded and Dresden was spared once more. The Neumarkt area has recently been rebuilt, brick by brick after it was completely devastated in February 1945 by what still remains a controversial allied bombing raid. After the war Dresden fell under Soviet occupation and subsequently the communist German Democratic Republic who rebuilt the Neumarkt area in socialist realist style and partially with historic buildings. However huge areas of the place remained untouched. After the fall of Communism and German reunification the decision was made to restore the Neumarkt to its pre-war look.
The reconstruction is centered around the Dresden Frauenkirche or Church of our lady, in the heart of the Neumarkt. The church, except for its dome, was rebuilt in 2005 using original material and plans, with the help of modern technology. The heap of rubble was documented and carried off stone by stone. The approximate original position of each stone could be determined from its position in the heap. Every usable piece was measured and catalogued. A computer imaging program that could move the stones three-dimensionally around the screen in various configurations was used to help architects find where the original stones sat and how they fit together. As in the 18th century, copious quantities of eggs were used to make the color that provides the interior with its almost luminescent glow. When it came to duplicating the entrance doors, appeals were made for old photographs from weddings. Many photographs including entire albums were submitted and the artisans were able to recreate the doors.
The reconstruction of the structures surrounding the Neumarkt has inevitably caused controversy, with architecture critic Andreas Ruby criticizing the attempt as inauthentic, likening it to the recreation of Venice to be found at the Venetian Resort Hotel in Las Vegas. I think Andreas might want to consider a trip to Specsavers!
Like most in the band, Pete and I played tourist and wandered around the city, cameras strapped on, making our way slowly to the site of the gig, just across the Augustusbrücke bridge.
The stage backed onto the banks of the previously flooded river Elbe and faced the Sächsisches Staatsministerium der Finanzen, which would appear to translate as the ministry of finance. With the weather looking like it was going to be good for the evening, the rain which was forecast stayed away and the crew were busy loading in. We wandered in to what was until 2pm a public area. After the usual banter with the crew, Pete went to catering and made coffees for the guys. After a particularly delicious bowl of Roast Veg, Coconut and Lime soup, we headed back into town across the other bridge. with no soundcheck today, the doors opened at 5pm and we left the hotel in the cars at 5:30. Straight to catering for a modest dinner before heading to the makeshift dressing rooms to decide upon the stage attire. My favourite shirt of the tour was calling. It’s a shirt made by a company called ‘1 Like No Other’. Every ‘1’ shirt in the luxury collection is a genuine one-off. Commitment to quality limits production of each design to a mere 500 garments, assuring you of their exclusivity. The unique number carefully hand printed inside each one brings a whole new meaning to limited edition.
We took to the stage in bright sunlight at 8pm.
A fairly complex but necessary runner took us in our 4 wheel drive Range Rovers escorted by a police car along the banks of the Elbe through the 10,000 strong crowd which was already leaving the venue. We made it through and were back at the hotel in 5 minutes. Earlier this afternoon, Richard had discovered an Augustiner bar in the main square opposite the Frauenkirche and a very easy decision was made to revisit. Half an hour later we were surrounded by delicious Augustiner Helles biers and plates of delicious German favourites. The meatballs were spectacular.
Jim Cox sculpts another magical solo on the B3 at the end of Speedway…
A very happy 4th of July to all the Americans reading this and a happy wedding anniversary Richard and Christina Bennett.