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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

A Total Wash Out - Singing in the Bavarian Rain

Updated: Jun 4

I probably should have cancelled the trip to Munich – I caught another flu virus during the trip to Romania and the trip to Belfast only exacerbated the situation. I spent most of the weekend after I got back from Belfast crying because I felt so sick but knew that I had to keep working for the next two weeks without a break – it was all getting too much.

I was on the verge of cancelling when they started publishing and tagging me in promotional posts on Instagram for the 'Zamanand Festival' where I was due to perform. My phobia of disappointing people kicked in – confounded by the additional problem that if I didn’t go I wouldn’t have sufficient video footage for the ‘It’s Time To Vote’ music video which needs to be released ahead of the EU elections 6 - 9th June. It would appear to be true that there is no rest for the wicked…

Due to cash flow issues (I have had to the front the costs of many trips which had yet to be reimbursed) and the extortionate cost of the flights out of Manchester, I made the stupid decision to book a very early flight out of Gatwick on Friday 31st May. So, I had to travel down to London the night before and stay in a hotel and then get up at 4am to catch the flight. I was extremely anxious and couldn’t sleep – I think I got about 3 hours – which was particularly bad since I was due to perform that evening from 8-10pm. I knew the journey wasn’t going to be pleasant when a man dressed in a tacky Dirndl decorated in Pretzels and Beer kegs boarded the flight with his “bros” and sat immediately behind me – they were drunk and loud. Louder even than the screaming baby who was in the row behind them. At least, the flight was not delayed – so I only had to endure their company for 2 hours.


I went directly to my hotel but I wasn’t able to check-in until 3pm, so I hung around the café attempting to work in my sleep deprived state (I didn't achieve much). I deliberately didn’t drink any coffee, hoping that I would be able to have a power nap when I finally got into my hotel room – but no such luck. I think I was too riled up about the performance that evening. So, I got ready and made my way to the venue (a church) in the pouring rain. The weather forecast for the duration of my trip was 80% chance of rain, which was less of a problem for the church performance and more of a problem for the ‘Zamanand Festival’ which was an outdoor event in one of Munich’s main squares, Odeonsplatz. Since my lungs are in a bit of a state after the flu virus I contracted in Romania and my ongoing Asthma, I maxed out (and probably overdosed) on my steroid inhaler in a desperate attempt to improve the quality of my singing. The problem with being an acoustic, solo performer is that your music is laid bare – any mistake on the guitar or vocal tear will be excruciatingly audible, especially with the acoustics of a church. I did my best, it was far from perfect – but I think better than letting people down and not showing up at all…

The church had a stunningly beautiful mural on its walls, a kind of textural, Expressionist congregation in Earthy tones – I loved it. The event had been co-organised with the European Parliament and Commission liaison office in Munich, who had set up a stall in the venue where they were distributing flags, T-shirts, water bottles, badges and assorted EU “swag”. After my performance they presented me with these items along with some chocolates and a candle and a postcard written in German (which I need to ask someone to translate for me) – which was very sweet. I asked members of the audience if they would be happy to take a photo with me (most of them were too shy) but a few of them were brave enough to make a lovely photo of everyone waving their EU flags and also volunteered to hold the cards to be in my music video.

The following day, the sound check was at 3pm, so I got to have a much needed lie-in (SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEP). It was absolutely pouring with rain all day and the stage was soaked as well as all the electrical equipment. Alarmed, I asked the technician if it was a problem but he said they were completely waterproof. Odeonsplatz had been set up with stalls and vans giving out freebies and offering a variety of activities by the European Commission liaison office and Europe Direct Munich, as well as food and beer. There were also four giant star sculptures which I absolutely loved.


I performed for an hour, singing half the set to backing tracks and the rest live with the very expensive Lakewood guitar which was bought for me to play. Towards the end of my performance the church bells began to ring which added an interesting musical texture. I mostly performed original content, a mixture of political and apolitical as well as two cover songs, ‘Brave’ by Sara Bareilles and ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon. The audience was mostly huddled a good distance from the stage under the cover of the stalls but a few brave people stood near the front under umbrellas. Mostly people were stopping for a few minutes and then leaving – I can’t blame them - it was cold, wet and miserable. Having watched back the recording of my performance - I don't think the quality of my singing, given all the gunk in my lungs, was helping the situation – I did my best in the circumstances but perhaps it would have been wiser just to cancel?

As my friend commented on social media; this performance has "General Election Announcement Vibes".

A photo with Dr. Udo Bux, chief of the Munich Bureau of the European Parliament and a book (in German) which he gave me about Brexit

After I had performed, someone from JEF (the Jeunes Europeens Federalistes – I am a member of their sister organisation in the UK) came up to me and told me that they had an event around the corner where they would be discussing Brexit and invited me along. As it turned out two of the men from the European Commission in Munich were also attending, so I went with them. I didn’t realise until I got there that the entire event was in German so I wouldn’t be able to understand anything – although I was happy just to be inside, warm, dry and with a gin & tonic at that point. The guy who had invited me, however, felt obliged to give me a personal translation of this discussion which was very sweet and I thanked him for his effort. I kept nodding and agreeing with everything the speakers were saying about Brexit and he commented “I’m just telling you everything you already know, aren’t I?” I particularly enjoyed the flip chart where they had asked the audience to write down what they associated with Brexit, which included “English arrogance”, “chaos” and “Wetherspoons” – which particularly made me laugh (It's funny because it's true).


I flew home the next day, thankfully into Manchester and not Gatwick, as I was feeling quite rotten and was hoping the journey wouldn't be any longer than neccessary. I feel like I've died and then been reheated in the microwave: I have a permanent headache, and my lungs are in a complete state and it feels like my throat is burning. I’m extremely grateful that I have no more performances planned and I have nearly a month at home before I am travelling abroad again. I just wish I had a little bit less work on, so I could have a proper rest – definitely not helped by Rishi Sunak calling the general election – but such is life.





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