Booka Shade Album Launch
Original article here
Booka Shade, Eve Album Launch Party, Oval Space, London, 14/11/13
Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier have been through a lot together. They first met in a school band aged 13 and went on to run their own production company, producing and promoting early 90s synth pop. Eventually they formed Booka Shade and in 2002 teamed up with old friends Patrick Bodmer and Philipp Jung – aka M.A.N.D.Y. – plus Groove publisher Thomas Koch – aka DJ T – to found the record label Get Physical. There the pair released three genre-defining albums, littered with melodic house hits that elevated them and their label amongst the greats of German dance music.
New album Eve marked the duo’s split from Get Physical and almost led the two of them to split up the successful partnership. Album sessions were taking their toll so they decided to decamp to Manchester’s Eve Studios in order to get things back on track. “We recorded an electronic album in a traditional way and it made us feel like a band again, it was like going back to the beginning,” read the press release, and seeing them on stage for the album launch party at London’s Oval Space, Walter and Arno look as youthful and enthusiastic as they did a decade ago.
Brighton-based Let The Machines Do The Work provided solid support – recent single ‘Let Me Be The One’ going down particularly well – but the capacity crowd was there for the return of the Booka Shade boys. After a rousing intro they dived right into a succession of old Get Physical favourites, ‘Night Falls’, ‘Oh Superman’ and ‘Darko’; all given the customary live extension from Walter and dramatic drum breaks from Arno.
The visuals only really came to life with the new material though, with Fritz Kalkbrenner’s head looming over the audience as he sang along with the trombones and slightly soft rock synths of ‘Crossing Borders’. If that didn’t prove particularly popular, then the muscular bass and diva tones of Chelonis R. Jones on ‘Blackout: White Noise’ got everyone going again, and as soon as the first notes of ‘In White Rooms’ filtered in, the place was bouncing.
Some acts resent having to play their old hits, but Booka Shade seem to absolutely vibe off it, teasing out an extended edit of ‘Mandarine Girl’ to finish the show. As an encore they set off into first single and strongest new album cut ‘Love Inc’; resplendent with brilliant visuals mimicking Eve’s bold cover art. Arno was so excited by this point that he came out from behind his impressive electronic drum kit to act as on-mic hype man for the obligatory rendition of their M.A.N.D.Y collaboration ‘Body Language’. The audience were so receptive that they even managed to squeeze in another new one, ‘Love Drug’, as the one last tune.
They may not have the restrained cool of other Berlin-based dance music peers – what with Arno’s jaunty fedora and Walter’s hands-free headset – but it’s exactly that carefree enthusiasm that makes Booka Shade’s live show so endearing and enduring.