a review on the CRYSTAL WOLF FIGHTERS (aka MYSTERY JETS) Berlin Tour organised by PLAYberlin in spring 2009
Last year we organised a small Berlin tour for the Mystery Jets under the name of Crystal Wolf Fighters before they went to the studio to record their 3rd record with Chris Thomas. They played mostly new material on which they were working on at the time and which has been released on their latest record SEROTONINearlier this year. With a bit distance of more than a year, it is interesting to see the process behind and how certain ideas stayed or disappeared.
The latest record SEROTONINis out on ROUGH TRADE and available to buy here
VON DEN TOTEN AUFERSTANDEN – SIX NIGHTS IN BERLIN AS THE CRYSTAL WOLF HUNTERS
The tour was organized under the name Crystal Wolf Fighters. But inside the article the name changed to Crystal Wolf Hunters by mistake. Also the setlist had a different order.
“When we first sat down to discuss plans for the third album (never thought id get to say those words), something which came up straight away was the idea of playing the record live in front of people, before we went in and ‘committed it to tape’ as they say in the industry. The notion being that more often than not, songs put down too early in their existence go on to change -usually for the better- once they are taken on the road. Somehow the magic of live performance shapes and molds them into something quite different to what they were at birth.
The argument against the idea however, is that ticket-buying crowds expecting to see a mystery jets show might feel wildly disappointed to walk away from a gig full of semi-formed songs they have never heard before. And most understandably too. Enter the Crystal Wolf Hunters.
Both an amalgamation and a parody of the huge, scene-friendly, plaid shirt-clad flux of hipster bands of the past couple of years, the Crystal Wolf Hunters alias was to become our perfect guise. One part gemstone with mythical healing powers, one part fierce carnal predator, and one part er….Hunter. Unfortunately the similarities in the initial ‘Crystal Wolf Fighters’ name to that of the related -and pretty awesome- ‘Crystal fighters’ weren’t rectified till after the Flyers were printed…sorry our bad, lads.
Next came the idea of Berlin. I dont know what it is about the place, but ever since i a spotty teenager, i have wanted to go there. It might have been discovering Heroes (the bowie record, not the hit sci-fi sitcom), or watching swarms of heroin sniffing adolescents flock to see him play in Christiane F. Either way, the place has always been top of my, and indeed the Jet’s list of places to decamp to for a long old time.
The other reason Berlin seemed the perfect fit, shameful as I feel to admit it, was because in all our years of bussing and touring all over the shop, we had only stopped off to play there just once before. And that was way back in 2006 anyway (when we opened for the Arctics around Europe), so our relative anonymity there seemed most conveniently probable.
And so it was. With no bottomless budget to speak of, our old ex-church of england R-registration Transit rammed with amps and synths, and a small crew of two (our manager’s masterful assistant Chris behind the wheel, and Henry on filming and hype man duties), we rolled into town, and set up shop at the newly opened Michelberger hotel on Warschauer Strasse.
Opened early especially for our visit, the Michelberger became the ultimate party crash pad for our stay, and with only six guests in the whole place (us), I have to say we could have got away with murder. In fact we kind of did.
Mostly, we played wherever people would have us, but none of it would have been possible without our friend (and original !wowow! kid) Johannes, who made all of the arrangements for the tour. I say ‘tour’, although in my experience a tour usually comprises of lots of waking up hung-over on sleeper busses in strange towns. I dont know if a word has been invented for playing 5 shows in 4 days in the same city. Anyone?
Spread across a mish mash of gay club nights (hot), art show openings (sweaty) and a vice barbecue (way hip), the shows were all completely different from one another, but in a variety of ways all amazing and way more fun than i think any of us could have imagined. The feeling of having to win over a crowd of strangers isn’t at all a foreign one, but one which was massively enhanced by the fact that we barely knew what we were doing let alone if the audience could tell.
The new songs (of which there were 7 by the final show at the White Trash Fast Food Cafe) grew and morphed and mutated across the week, and by the end really felt like they
had began to glue together in a beautiful way. At this stage i dont think i could say exactly how the album will sound with any kind of certainty, but what is noticeable is how the songs have benefited from being played in sequence. And i wouldn’t be at all surprised if the sequence we played them in at the shows might even end up how we shape the album when we wrap it up (we are are starting our second session tomorrow…can’t wait.).
CRYSTAL WOLF HUNTERS SETLIST JULY 2009:
Flash a hungry smile
Jesus turn the other cheek
Make up your mind
The girl is gone
Too late to talk
PHOTOS courtesy of our friends Johannes, Dimitry and Stefan at Playberlin.
Stefan Mark Färber
by Stefan Mark Färber (colour) / Johannes Wengel (b/w)