POPMART Leg 3: 1997, North America


'Accordion Ensemble'

19 February 2011
'Accordion Ensemble'
Cape Town. Departure.

Woke up overwhelmed by the joy of knowing I'd managed to avoid staying up til dawn drinking whiskey. I can only imagine what I'd feel like now if I hadn't bailed when I did last night.

Most of our touring party have evening flights out of here today, so we have a good part of the day to ourselves. I was determined to finally see something more than the stadium, the hotel & the nearby waterfront so had planned to spend the day with a couple of friends who live here part-time. Marius Muller-Westernhagen is a German rock musician who has enjoyed a long and enormously successful career. He has only ever written & performed in German, which has made him much adored within German-language territories whilst remaining almost totally unknown without. His wife is a New Yorker and they divide their time between Berlin and Cape Town. I've known them both for a few years now and they'd promised to take me out today so I could actually experience some colour colour. They took me to the Old Biscuit Mill, which is a large mixed-use, post-industrial premises housing an open-air market that was absolutely rammed on this sunny lunchtime. We walked and explored, finding something to eat en route and I very much enjoyed taking it all in. There were lots of market stalls, artisans, small businesses and a huge amount of food vendors of all descriptions, with tables and seats scattered about the place. We even came across an accordion ensemble playing Supertramp covers which, I confess, I had not expected.

I can't tell you how pleasant it was to be out and about mixing with civilians, especially with the shows behind us so that even I wouldn't be able to come up with a reason to be doing any work. There was also another oddity that lent a uniqueness to the occasion. Apparently there is a large German-speaking community in Cape Town, a statistic confirmed by Marius constantly being photographed as we walked through the market. The specificity of celebrity could not have been more clearly illustrated, how a person can be simultaneously adored and ignored in a mixed-demographic crowd. It was fascinating to witness.

The rest of our day included a trip up to Signal Hill, which affords a view of the whole of Cape Town, and also to the wonderfully randomly-named Llandudno Beach, presumably first colonised by the Welsh in days of yore. By the time my hosts returned me to the Hotel Preposterous I really felt like I'd had a day out.

Meanwhile back in my real life, packing awaited and a final poolside gathering to make the most of the last sunshine we're likely to see this side of arriving in Chile. Dec told me he'd met a group of punters in the local Belgian bar (they knew who he was, which is scary) who told him that their favourite moment of last night's show was Fez, which rather made my day.

Vans, airport, check-in, passports, the usual routine as Team 360 begins to fragment, its members beginning to become individuals again. Night flight, no under-fives apparent, but ear-plugs inserted, just in case.

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07 March, 2011
Being there when I not.
Willie does an amazing job of putting you into places that we could only ever dream of being. Putting the furtherest points within tangible reach is a great way of feeling how the tour is going on & on & on & on. Looking forward to South America already -even here in Dublin, Thanks Willie!!
27 February, 2011
German connection
Dear Willie, thank you for all your wonderful diary entries! Your great descriptions truly make me travel to so many different and colourful places in my imagination. I am sure that the big accordion ensemble created a huge sound! Before reading this story I did not know that there is such a large German-speaking community in Cape Town. This city must be an amazing place that connects different cultures. I am also amazed by the fact that Marius Mueller-Westernhagen is such a big celebrity there. As an Austrian I know him of course, because he is also quite famous in my country. One of his most moving songs is called "Freiheit" ("Freedom"), which he performed live after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
25 February, 2011
Looking forward to your next diary entry Willie, don't wait too long :)
24 February, 2011
belgian bar
if you have Belgians and a Belgian bar in the same city, they are bound to unite! I had miss Brazil, miss Swiss and miss US thinking Duvel is a light beer. They were blissfully unaware of the fact that I was talking about the colour and not the alcoholpercentage. They found out soon enough tho'. Don't be scared, we only knew who he was because someone introduced us. We saw you a couple of days earlier but knowing how you hate to be recognised, we thought it was best to pretend you weren't there. and yeah, we LOVED hearing Fez! surprises like that are the things we thrive on. Please, do keep 'm coming :)
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