Saturday was the day we’d been waiting for. Ever since I bought the tickets to see Elton John in February 2018, I anticipated finally getting to see him for the first… and likely the last… time ever. We spent Saturday morning relaxing and recovering from the Fest. Then we had lunch at the nearby Vereinsgaststätte TSV 07 Stuttgart, which I had wanted to try because I noticed on other visits that it always smelled good near the restaurant. The signage around the club also indicated that it was “eine wirklich schwäbisch Küche” (a really Schwabish kitchen). Although I can’t say I’m a devout fan of Schwabish cuisine, I wanted to see if there was truth in advertising.
See? It even says on the sign that it’s a really Schwabish kitchen.
The Gasthaus was fairly busy when we got there, which I always take as a good sign. Curiously, I noticed a large beer fridge full of Coronas– Mexican beer that goes well with lime slices. Although Corona is prevalent enough in the United States, it’s not that often that I see it in German Gasthauses. We took a seat in the dining room and the English speaking waitress brought us a Weizen for me, and an Apple Schorle for Bill. For lunch, Bill had a small turkey schnitzel with pommes. I decided to have asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce.
I don’t know why this trip was so heavy on asparagus. I do like it, but I prefer the green asparagus to the white. To me, it’s got more flavor. I don’t usually want to center a whole meal around asparagus, either, although once May is over, so is asparagus season. Nevertheless, here’s the photographic evidence of the source of my stinky pee.
Gosh, he’s cute.
Bill’s salad was the traditional kind, with potato salad on the bottom. I’m sure they serve it like that up here in Hesse, although to be honest, we haven’t been frequenting Gasthauses lately.
A little turkey schnitzel with fries. I liked that it came with ketchup or mayo and that you could choose pork, veal, or turkey. I also liked that you could order a small. I can never finish schnitzels, which is why I rarely order them. Bill liked his. I probably should have gotten one, too.
My asparagus with Hollandaise and a “Fladl” (crepe). It’s a very “beige” dish. I couldn’t eat all of the asparagus, but I gave it a good try.
When we got back to the hotel, there was a saxophone player named Sebastian Lilienthal playing. Waldhotel was having an open house and I guess his music was part of the festivities. I thought his playing was technically good, although it lacked a certain sense of soul. He seemed to prefer hits of the 1980s. Having looked him up, I can see why. He’s just a few years older than I am, so that music was no doubt part of his personal soundtrack. I did get a kick out of his rendition of “Boogie Wonderland” by The Emotions and Earth, Wind, & Fire. It’s not a song I would have expected to hear played solo on the saxophone.
Sebastian was playing to no one at this point, since no one was sitting outside. It was chilly and rainy outside. He was later driven inside by a sudden hailstorm. At one point, he reminded me a little of Squidward.
Sorry… but he really did.
The hotel staff set out some very tempting looking treats.
I’m really glad we had a piece of Black Forest Cake, especially given what happened on our way to the concert. This is one of my favorite German desserts!
The concert tickets I bought came with a parking pass and vouchers for a buffet with an open bar for two hours before the show started. Although we don’t usually drive to concerts due to the hell of getting in and out of the parking lots, we decided to drive this time, since we had the parking pass. It’s a mistake I won’t be repeating.
We left the hotel at about 4:45pm, figuring that would give us plenty of time to get to the venue and get something to eat. One thing that usually happens to us at concerts is that we miss dinner. It’s not that I can’t afford to miss a meal… it’s just that I get really “hangry” when I’m hungry. So we thought we’d be safe. We were about 900 meters from the concert venue when the Stuttgart police suddenly decided to close the road leading to the Hans Schleyer Arena. I mean, it happened literally a car ahead of us. He put traffic cones up and people were having to make U turns into oncoming traffic, which seemed really dangerous to me. And the cop was very rude when Bill asked how he was supposed to get to the parking area. I was tempted to use bad language, but remembered that insulting the cops can lead to huge fines. So I zipped it… and so did Bill, who also felt like cussing.
This was just the beginning. If we had left about five minutes earlier, we would have avoided this mess. At one point, I was wondering if we were going to make it, since traffic was at a standstill. We were about 600 meters from the parking lot, but it still took an hour.
Traffic was a nightmare, of course, as we and everyone behind us was forced to change directions. The GPS rerouted us to the road that ran past the Wasen grounds. It took about an hour to work our way down the street congested with festgoers. It was absolutely infuriating, although even if we’d taken a cab or the U-bahn, it would have been an ordeal to get to the venue. By the time we parked the car, it was already 6:30pm and the concert was due to start at 7:00. So we decided to just find our seats.
The view from where I was sitting.
The concert was, of course, completely sold out. I didn’t see a single open seat in the arena. Elton put on a great show and played for about two and a half hours, straight. I really enjoyed the concert, especially since John Jorgenson was in the band. About ten years ago, I used to review albums for a public relations firm out of Nashville. They sent me a couple of Jorgenson’s albums to review. He was filling in for Elton John’s regular guitar player, Davey Johnstone, who is taking a break due to back problems.
The band was stellar and we had pretty good seats in Block Twelve. The songs were each paired with an audio/visual presentation, which I guess is the trend with some artists. I remember Diana Krall did something similar with her concert in Stuttgart a few years ago. The videos were kind of interesting, but they were also a bit distracting. I found myself watching the videos instead of Elton, whose piano was on some kind of track that moved him around the stage. I remember being surprised when I turned my attention back to him on the stage and seeing him in a different place than where he was at the beginning of the song.
After a particularly exciting song, the house lights would go up so we could all see each other. There were several exciting songs, so we got to see each other a lot. It was a huge, appreciative crowd. I was sitting next to a German guy who was really into the show. He was dancing in his seat.
Toward the end of the show, Elton said that in 1990, he decided that he didn’t like how he was living his life and decided to make a change. He got off drugs and alcohol and, two years later, decided to start a foundation to fight AIDS. Maybe a lot of younger people don’t realize what a scourge AIDS was for people in the 80s and 90s, but I plainly remember how many people– truly amazing, gifted people like Ryan White, Freddie Mercury, and Rock Hudson– died of the disease when I was coming of age. I appreciated Elton’s comments about how now, no one has to die of AIDS.
Speaking as someone who remembers thinking of HIV infection as an automatic death sentence, I was really impressed by Elton’s speech, as well as his explanation as to why he’s retiring from the road. He got everyone excited when he said we all need to come together– especially England and the rest of Europe. He said, and I quote, “We don’t need fucking BREXIT!” The Germans all roared their approval. I was kind of relieved that he didn’t bring up Donald Trump, although that was probably another thought people were having. Personally, I don’t think we need fucking Donald Trump, either.
Ray Cooper… he’s a madman on the drums! I also enjoyed watching Nigel Olsson, another one of Elton’s longtime band members. He kept mugging for the camera. It was adorable!
It looked almost like he was ascending into Heaven. I hope that’s not on the horizon…
Taking a bow.
Before we knew it, the show was over. But, because we were tightly packed into our seats, neither Bill nor I had the chance to pee before the end. Of course, because the arena was packed with people, most of whom also needed to pee, we didn’t get a chance to go before we exited the building. We were kind of swept out of the venue into the rain. Then, once we got in the car, stomachs rumbling because we didn’t have time to eat, the real fun started. It legitimately took over an hour just to get out of the parking lot. There was no sense of queueing and plenty of people were acting like totally inconsiderate assholes behind the wheel. I did a lot of swearing… I won’t lie.
This was hell. However, I did see a few amusing scenes of young people staggering after spending too much time at the Fest. One person even left a full cup of beer tucked into someone’s windshield wiper.
The hotel’s parking lot was full when we arrived at about 11:00pm. The show had let out at about 9:30pm, but it took us 90 minutes to get back. The kitchen was closed, of course. We hadn’t expected it to be open, although we could see others who had gone to the show and got back before us were eating. I guess they had the same problem we did. The bartender was sympathetic, though, and loaded us up on red wine and peanuts.
When we got back to the room, we found it completely set up for bedtime. The housekeeper left us more tea and cookies, closed all the blinds, and turned down the bed. That was very nice and left us with a good impression.