By Dave Briggs
When I heard earlier this year that The Picturebooks would be back in the UK on their own headline tour I was well chuffed. Having seen these guys support Monster Truck last year at the 02 Institute and being blown away by their performance I knew that this gig would be one not to miss. This event would be the second UK concert in what will surmount to be part of a 60 gig European and UK tour, an admirable journey to attempt. For those who haven’t witnessed this hugely impressive duo, its difficult explain the amazing musical talents they possess. Even now, after seeing them twice, I still marvel at the sound they produce, especially when you consider that Philipp doesn’t have what you would class as your typical drum kit.
As the date of the gig got closer, it was announced that The Bad Flowers, a rock trio from Cannock, would be supporting The Picturebooks on several of their UK dates, including The Flapper. Now, this was just getting better all the time. Although up until this show, I hadn’t managed to catch The Bad Flowers in action, but had heard many good things about them, I was even more thrilled at the prospect of this event and couldn’t wait for the date to come around.
So, on the day of the gig I load the car up with myself, and my treasured Sony camera, Deb Gardner, the founder of the Rock Asylum and her daughter, Beth and off to Birmingham to The Flapper we did go. After a couple of arguments with the Sat Nav, due to temporary road changes for road works, we arrived at our chosen car park and proceeded to the venue. I’ve never been to The Flapper before but on arrival immediately fell in love with the place. It’s got great character, with super friendly staff. It’s a tragedy that they intend to flatten the place next year to build flats. Having arrived early, we got a drink and waited for the downstairs room to open. As promised we were let in on time and took up a position in front and centre of the stage area. While waiting for things to get started we were pleasantly surprised to have non other than The Picturebooks singer and guitarist, Fynn Claus Grabke, come and say hi. He was very humble and appreciative of the efforts people go to in order to visit their gigs. He said that each gig so far had been memorable for differing reasons and they were loving the experience of headlining their own tour. Shortly after, Fynn’s dad and manager, Claus came over and welcomed us to the gig. They say, ‘like father, like son’, and this is very apt. He was equally as humble with a real warm personality. He said that the interest in the tour dates had been very good and that becoming established in the UK was very important to them as they regarded the UK as the rock motherland.
So, it was time for things to get under way. After a quick tune up The Bad Flowers soon amped the energy up in the now near capacity room. The sound in the venue was great and The Bad Flowers took an impressive advantage of that fact. They started their set in thunderous style, kicking off with Lions Blood, from their recent two track CD. They worked their way through an impressive set list, which included a few of their better known tracks, Can You Feel It, Big Country, City Lights and recent release main track, Thunder Kid. They also threw in a couple of new tracks from their forthcoming album, all to the appreciation of the gathered crowd.
They certainly gave a very polished performance and delivered each track with an appropriate level of gusto, building the crowd’s enthusiasm with each track. Although only a relatively short set this modest group of Black Country lads certainly delivered a top rate show, giving a headlining worthy presentation. I can thoroughly recommend these guys, great musicians and excellent performers. They were a class act, demonstrating humility and a genuine appreciation for being part of the night’s proceedings. I’m definitely keen to see them again and look forward to the release of their forthcoming album.
After a stage change it was time for the main attraction – The Picturebooks. The anticipation of the crowd could be felt as Fynn and Philipp took to the stage. They wasted no time and jumped straight in with a blistering opener, PCH Diamond. The energy that these two gentlemen exert on stage is awe inspiring, especially when you consider how laid back they are off stage. The sound they produce is quite simply spellbinding. They delivered every track with passionate conviction, with thunderous appreciation from the packed venue. Fynn conversed with the crowd, giving everyone an insight into the motivation or influence behind the songs, which gave the occasion a more intimate feel.
The guys played a number of their better known tracks. Crowd favourites were certainly ‘Zero Fucks Given’, ‘Home is a Heartache’, ‘I Need That Ooh’ and ‘The Rabbit and the Wolf’. Intermingle these with Seen Those Days, Fire Keeps Burning, Wardance, Woman, Cactus, Elizabeth and Your Kisses Burn Like Fire and you have an almost complete discography of their last two albums. Fynn gave Phillip a well deserved break and gave a superb rendition of On These Roads I’ll Die, before being joined back on stage for their closer, These Bridges Must Burn. Every track was a rousing performance on its own merit, but as a collective they were off the scale. I cannot begin to imagine how many calories they burnt through during their time on stage, especially Philipp, such was his frenetic pace – he actually destroyed at least a couple of pairs of drum sticks. They gave a pulsating hour and a half show, captivating all in attendance and clearly feeding off the energy in the packed venue.
I know I’m not on my own in saying I could have watched these guys all night. Having thanked the assembled crowd for their enthusiasm and attendance Fynn and Philipp left the stage to rightfully deserved rapturous applause. They immediately attended their merch stand and greeted fans, posed for photos and gave time to everyone. Their patience and humility were both impressive and undeniable. Once the crowd had dispersed they busied themselves breaking down their stage set up – no roadies to do the donkey work for them, this just bolstered their honest and down to earth personas.
I cannot wait for them to return to our shores and treat us all to another spectacle like what was witnessed at The Flapper on 5th October. Do yourself a favour and check both bands videos out, especially any live footage, as you will not fail to be impressed. In reflection, the venue, the support band and headline act culminated in a spectacular evening’s entertainment.
For more photos from this and many more live gigs please visit Dave Briggs on facebook