At the end of the 80s, when it was difficult to wear bald heads for political reasons, the members of the rock band City once had to explain themselves to a high managerial level because of their bald heads. The answer from founding member and guitarist Fritz Bubel was short and sweet: “This is BioGlatzen!”
Bare heads remained. Very loose sayings. And although City celebrates its 50th anniversary next year, the band, founded in Prenzlauer Berg in 1972, is still rocking a lot. Singer Toni Krahl, guitarist Bobbel, violinist and bassist Jorge Gogo and keyboardist Manfred Hennig demonstrated this Tuesday at the Kesselhaus of Kulturbrauerei.
The occasion of the press conference was the upcoming anniversary: at the beginning of next year a new double studio album of the band will be released, there will be a book publication and a television documentary.
Concerts are also planned under the name “Rock Legenden” with bands such as Silly and Maschine, as well as a tour with the Berliner Symphoniker. This should start on July 23, 2022 in Wuhlheide. It was the tour as well as the album titled “The Last Tour”. This should end on December 30, 2022 with the last city concert at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
“Together we made a promise — we want to cross the finish line for 50 years together,” says Krahl, in a hoarse, distinct voice. And it’s close to their hearts to keep that promise, precisely because one of them is now missing: Last year, drummer Klaus Selmki died of cancer.
“If it wasn’t for Klaus, we wouldn’t be here today.”
The “General” was famous for his barefoot appearance. Selmke founded the formation, which was one of the most successful rock bands in the GDR, with Puppel. The first concert was held in February 1972 at the “Klubhaus ABC” in Köpnik, at that time it was still called the “rock band”. “That evening we were Santana, Deep Purple and Pink Floyd all at once, it was awesome!”
“If it wasn’t for Klaus we wouldn’t be here today,” says singer Krahl, who came to Siti in 1975, describing Selmki’s importance to the band. “He was our institution. He always made sure we had practice rooms and the necessary technical equipment.” Since there was no real sound in town without drums, drummer Roger Heinrich was brought into the band as a deputy during Selmke’s illness years. Also in the Kulturbrauerei is Heinrich, who also wears topless on his head and looks strikingly similar to keyboardist Hennig. Just like some of the musicians from the Berliner Symphonicer.
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The band performs three songs, two of which – titled “Lass’ gut sein” and “Die Sonne geht auf” – at their world premieres. They will also be represented by about 15 more tracks on the new studio album. While “Lass’ gut sein” raises questions about possibilities for a better and fairer life and recalls subversive hits from GDR times like “Wall on Wall” and “Half and Half,” “The Sun Rises” is a love song in the best way in town. His turbulent rock beats your legs, the metaphor of nature beats your heart: “The wind pushes the white clouds through the blue.”
3000 times “at the window”
But as with every band’s concert, Kulturbrauerei’s greatest hit in town shouldn’t be missed: Gogow’s violin looks longingly and takes audiences into the lost and moving world of “Am Fenster”. Gogow says he has played the band’s signature piece about 3,000 times.
Once, at an outdoor concert in Erfurt, City was supposed to be the last band to appear, but there were only five minutes left: enough to play a one-minute intro of the song spanning seven to over seventeen minutes, depending on version. “The audience then dismantled the store,” recalls Babel, laughing under his silver cowboy hat. “We won’t risk that again!”