Michael Brook and Lisa Germano

Last Monday an old dream came true: After all these years I finally had the opportunity to see Michael Brook play live, here in Baltimore!

He created some of my all-time favorite albums with Sleeps With The Fishes, Cobalt Blue, Live at the Aquarium, Hybrid with Brian Eno, or his collaborations with Djivan Gasparyan, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and so many others. He not only worked with Brian and Roger Eno, but also with David Sylvian, Robert Fripp, Russell Mills, on Rain Tree Crow with the other ex-Japan members, with Jon Hassell, Bryan Ferry, Peter Murphy…the list goes on and on and includes so many of my favorite musicians.

It is fascinating how he’s always been a part of my listening experience even when I haven’t listened to one of his own albums. As extensive his work with other musicians is, he also has a long history of producing soundtracks for television and film—films that coincidentally happen to be some of my favorites, Ashes and Snow, An Inconvenient Truth or Michael Mann’s Heat. Even if I didn’t know before that Michael Brook would be involved, it has always been so easy to spot his contributions and influence—thanks to his truly unique style and signature sound.

Back in Germany I never had the opportunity to see him live in concert. He played the opening act during David Sylvian and Robert Fripp’s tour The Road To Graceland in 1993. I have a few live-recordings of this tour including Michael Brook’s opening, but although I have known David Sylvian’s work since about 1991, it wasn’t until the Everything & Nothing tour in 2002 that I could see him live in DC for the first time. My second David Sylvian show was in 2003 in Cologne during the Fire in the Forest tour–and this might have been his last live performance.

When I read that Michael Brook was going to perform live last year, I was as excited as about these David Sylvian shows or the Dead Can Dance concerts I experienced in the 90s. Unfortunately he had a biking-accident, so his concert was postponed to last Monday.

And it was quite an unforgettable concert with Michael Brook, Lisa Germano, and an awesome violinist whose name I can’t recall right now. They played recent material from RockPaperScissors and An Inconvenient Truth as well as some older songs of the Cobalt Blue era. The music was brilliant, the atmosphere was great, very personal and intimate.

But this concert had to feel very intimate with an audience of only 8 (later perhaps 10) people, Alice and myself included. We all could have gone out for dinner together. I found this really shocking and embarrassing for Baltimore. Everybody was relaxed and seemed to have a good time, but what’s wrong with this city that only 10 people would be interested in his music? I’m not a musician, but that must have felt terrible, not to mention the financial loss. I really hope they were more welcome in other cities.

Of course it was wonderful for us, the audience. We not only could easily choose the best spot, we also got a very private concert during which he dedicated a song for every single one of us. But I felt bad for them. I think in every corner-pub they probably would have had a larger audience than at the Sonar. I hope they didn’t leave with too much of a bad impression. Somehow I feel this might have been his first and last visit to Baltimore. I hope not!

Even after several days since Monday I still think I was dreaming and cannot believe it. Baltimore’s population is huge in comparison to my hometown Mönchengladbach or Düsseldorf. There we stood in front of one of my musical superheroes…and only 10 people came to his concert? Sad…really sad, I don’t know what to say.

Maybe it was just a series of unfortunate circumstances…the fact that the original concert had to be postponed, no communication whatsoever from the ticket-service, maybe because it was a freezing Monday night.

But it was a great concert, and I’m very grateful they played for us and didn’t cancel the whole event. They already brought along a new album BellCurve, a more ambient remix companion to RockPaperScissors. It should be released in April if I remember right. So, thank you all again for playing in Baltimore!