I am still not fully aware of what I could be part of. It was like a dream that I never even thought would come true.
That morning I took the train from Germany to Paris to see John Frusciante playing at La Scene. Me and my friends arrived at the club at about 7.30pm and the gig was supposed to start at 8. It was raining and we were all standing and waiting to get in. There were not many people there and we thought it's great because this way, the concert would be much more personal and intimate. There didn't seem to be a backdoor at that place, so John would have to use the main entrance, passing all of us. And finally -at about 8pm- a black van with darkened windows arrived and stopped right in front of us. We went to the other side to see if it is really him and we just saw him getting out of the car really fast, almost running towards the entrance, his eyes fixed on the ground. Everything seemed to be really silent at that moment, it was weird. His bodyguards followed him in with the equipment and finally after some minutes, we were let in, too. It was a pretty small but very nice club with dim light and a very warm atmosphere and some really nice music playing. Everyone was already standing close to the stage talking and laughing and waiting for John but it still took a little while 'til he came.
Finally, the lights onstage were dimmed and he came. Everyone started screaming and clapping their hands. His manager handed him his acoustic guitar and he sat down on a stool. He seemed a bit nervous and hectic at first as if he wanted to get it done really fast. But throughout his performance he got more and more relaxed and you could see that he is really enjoying the fans and himself playing music for us. When he started playing his first song, I was just so overwhelmed that I almost started crying and so were some others. From that moment on, everyone was hypnotized by John and his performance. I was sitting on the stage and I was so close to him that I could have touched him. And I just couldn't believe that I was so close to the person that has had such a great influence on my personality and my attitude towards music since so many years. It was the most wonderful and moving moment of my life. He went on playing some of his old songs and a lot of cover songs like 'Modern Love' by David Bowie, a Joy Division song and also 2 songs from his new album including 'Going Inside' (which is my favourite song). He was really giving everything he had and one time he stopped in the middle of a song and his manager handed him some pill. He told us that he had just thrown up in his mouth and that he is sick. And he was like: 'Hey, actually I am playing pretty good for a sick guy'. But we didn't care that he had to interrupt some songs. His performance and just his whole being are so natural. We felt like we are some really close friends, almost like a huge family meeting up with another great friend who was playing songs for us. It was a really personal concert. And his guitar playing and his voice were just awesome. I must say, I actually like him a lot more live than on his records. Because at that concert, there were no effects, it was just him, his voice and his acoustic guitar and nothing else and it was great. I really don't remember the exact order of the songs he played or the exact titles. By times, I just kept looking at his hands and how he played the guitar and I forgot everything around me. I think I was in the 4th dimension he mentioned in Funky Monks. It was just pure energy and vibrations and emotions. It was beautiful.
He was done like after an hour already and when he went offstage, we kept on shouting for him to come back and clapping our hands. And of course he came back. I think he did 4 or 5 encores, it was really cool. So the whole gig lasted for like one and a half hours or even almost 2. In the encores, he said something personal before each of his songs. He played this R.E.M. song and he told us that he used to listen to that song over and over again in his girlfriend's car at the time when he had reached the lowest point of his life and when he felt really bad, that was a very emotional moment. He also played 'Lucky' by Radiohead and I really liked his version of that song. Another song he dedicated to one of his friends who had died (guess he meant River Phoenix), a song for his best friend Toni, and also a song he had written before he rejoined the Peppers that has not been published and he said that that song had been written by fame for him because it describes what fame did to him and his life. In the end, he was asking us what songs to play and this one girl shouted: 'Smile From the Streets!' and he was like 'I don't remember how it starts' and he wanted the girl to come onstage and show him. That was such a funny moment and we all started laughing. He actually tried to play that song like 3 times and messed it up. But we didn't care and it was a funny show! But finally, he managed to play it and when he started playing 'Your Pussy…' everyone started screaming, it was just hilarious! He was so overwhelmed himself and was playing really hard that he broke a string one time. It was just a very natural show. I have never been to a gig like this. It was the best concert I have ever attended!
After he left the stage, most people waited, hoping he would come and give us autographs and we would get a chance to talk to him and of course he came after a while. He is such a lovely person and I can't say it enough: he is really so natural - even more natural than most 'normal' people. He really came up to us and started talking to us, smiling and hugging everyone and making pictures. And when you talk to him, he really looks into your eyes and really recognizes you. He was really patient and so nice! He signed my BSSM cover and we made a picture and I also got to talk to him. But worthwhile, so many fans were all standing around him and wanting to make pics with him that sometimes he didn't know which camera to look in and he was like: 'Which camera is it?' It made me laugh so bad.
So, after a while, he had to go but me and my friends still met him again outside accidentally where he was waiting for his car. And I got to talk to him again but he seemed to be pretty tired already. He asked me if I had been at the Hamburg gig and he also told me, that him and the Peppers will probably come to this festival in UK this summer. My friend asked him if he would like to come have dinner with us and he got so excited and started asking how to get there and all. He really wanted to come and got so happy but someone reminded him that he had an interview later that night, so it didn't work out. It would have been so awesome!
When his car arrived, he thanked us all and said bye and drove of.
I really must say, It was the greatest night ever for me. John has played such an important part in my life since so many years and I still can't believe that I had this great opportunity to get to see him and enjoy his wonderful music. He is a true artist and genius and a great inspiration to me. But the best thing is, that he is such a kind and warm person and that he doesn't act like a rock star. He is just himself and treats his fans with respect. When I talked to him, I felt like I am talking to an old friend whom I have been knowing my whole life. I didn't feel shy or anything. It was just... there really is no word to describe what I felt at that moment. That night, my friend said something great: that we live everyday like it doesn't mean anything, the days just pass, but this day, we will never ever forget. It will be the best memory I have ever had and I thank all the people who made it possible for me. I had such a great time in Paris.
My head is full of things I want to say about this experience but actually nothing describes it right. You can't describe the feeling it gives one, to be at such a concert sitting just two metres away from this tiny man perched on his stool, shaking and sweating, and spitting and strumming, pouring his music all over us - into us.
I guess it struck a different cord in each, but, at the danger of sounding tacky, there's only one way to describe the gig: It was one big insanely happy family. The two most important things that struck me were: He sounds so much better live, just him and his guitar, and none of the electric organ and tons of SFX as on the album. Most of all his voice, when he sings lower key is very rich and warm. The second thing that strikes one is how incredibly warm and genuine the person himself is, everyone later said independently of each other: "God, he is so human". He is tiny, hardly taller than me. When he walks past one he is just a wee hunched figure. He is also terribly sick, at Peppers gigs one doesn't realize how ill he is, he seems to be fine. But, oh my god, during the concert you could see him shaking so hard, his arms were shiny with sweat, and he kept retching and spitting into a big jar. It really made one scared! He is well aware and so courageous about it though, he interrupted one song and said: "Hey, I'm a sick man, I'm ill, but I'm playing well for a sick man!" and everyone cheered like mad at this. When one guy made a sarcastic comment, he laughed at him and said: "Hey, you wanna be a smartass, you come up here and do it better!".
He often started to play some song, and then stopped after a few chords, either cursing his guitar and asking for a new one, which he'd then curse as well, or saying that he changed his mind and he'll play a different song now. It was so refreshingly unorthodox, the whole gig, such a far cry from the picture perfect shows of RHCP, and so much preferable in my opinion. I thought all the time: "This is what live music is all about", this was really "live" like life, not like an MTV video in 3D. And it was very interactive, which is also how live music should be. He talked and joked with the audience all the time, discussing which song to play next. He doesn't have a set list at all, just a huge list with several
hundred songs, all the songs he ever wrote, and then he pauses between each song, runs his finger along the sheet and chooses one he's in the mood for just now. Often he played songs that people asked for. At one stage, one of the winners, Sophie, shouted: "Play Smile from the Streets.." and he stopped and said "Yeah, that's a nice song, but I forgot the lyrics, how does it start?" and then: "Sing it to me, come on sing me the first line and I'll pick it up from there" - The poor girl positively froze with nervousness, she tried but no sound came out, and then much later on, after a few more songs, she "thawed" and sung the first line to him, so he laughed and played it.
So all the time it was a thing, a communication between artist and audience, him pouring out his songs and us being the vessel, and sounding it back to him. You should have seen people's faces, some were crying during most of the show, and they had such love and admiration in their eyes! He played a lot of his new songs, they are lovely, more melodious than the other albums, and he played some R.E.M. song and Iggy Pop plus a few songs of his which aren't published, which is a great pity because I thought they were some of his best!
After the show, I asked Louis politely if we could have a little "meet and greet" for the winners of this competition, and he said sure, he comes out and signs autographs at all the shows, we can do it today. And so he did, he spoke to absolutely everyone who wanted to, signed autographs, posed for pictures with fans and had all the world of patience! Surprisingly, John didn't shake at all anymore, and the whole sick image was gone when he was offstage, for all the fragility he gives off, that is just one side of him. He is very vulnerable, yes, but when you get closer, you realize he is also very, very strong, and so he has to be, how else would he have gone all the way to the edge of death and destruction and come back?
This requires a hell of a lot of discipline and strength. On one level he is talking about spirits and death so much, he seems like someone who is one foot in this world, and one in the other. But when he looks at people, his eyes light up, and he is completely focused and absorbed in the person talking to him, concentrating on what they say and giving a personal answer. When he looks at you, he really looks at you. Everyone who went there was touched and transformed, I'm' still glowing, and my mailbox is full of mails form the other people who are feeling the same and still glowing. During the concert we often hugged each other spontaneously, although we all hadn't met before, and I even got hugged by two complete strangers, who later ended up coming round to my place for dinner as well. If you knew Parisians, you'd know how out of this world that is! They normally do not even acknowledge the existence of any other person in this town that they haven't known for years or are closely related to, they are famous for the sticks up their butts, you could make a forest out of it. John nearly came for dinner at our place too,but that's another story. Maybe next time!