Red lights, red wine and a singer in a bowler had and a green sequined scarf. The scarf shimmered like dragon-skin as the singer draped over her face and belted out another middle-eastern gypsy tune. Her voice was a deep, rich vibrato that tied the tinkling, timorous backing instruments together like a strong rope.
This was Mr. Mostash’s last gig and I was lucky to see it. I was here courtesy of a bemused and slightly winded Hungarian tourist - I'll call him 'Pete'. Pete had sat next to me earlier that night at Cassiopeia, during a screening of Berlin Calling. Once the end credits rolled we shared a bottle of red and asked the usual questions: why are you in Berlin? how long are you staying? what do you like about the city? I liked his answer to this last question the best.
“I feel like I renew faster in this city,” he said. Just like that, he managed to capture in words the feeling that I had been struggling to describe for the past two weeks. It's not just me who thinks that Berlin's energy is the essence of it's appeal.
"Back home I cannot drink two days in a row," Pete continued, "but in this city, I can go on for three, four days and still wake up fresh." Sounds familiar!
When Pete suggested checking out the Mr. Mostash gig at Love Lite, I shrugged and tagged along even though didn't have much enthusiasm for the idea. The revellers of Revaler strasse had evaporated when the rain started (as I've said before, rain seems to be Berlin's Kryptonite). Revaler Strasse, which is home to at least seven good clubs and numerous bars, is usually crowded every night of the week. I'd never seen it this empty before. Berlin's nightlife just seemed to have vanished without a trace.
When Pete and I got to Love Lite on Simplon Strasse, we found it. Despite the rain, everybody in Friedrichshain seemed to be partying to the sounds of an Israeli-gypsy band from Neukolln. At first my new friend and I settled for hanging out in the courtyard, with its heady red string lights and wafting bonfire smoke but eventually the tide of people moving inside the venue to watch the band overwhelmed us with its momentum. We went up to the doorman (a rangey bloke wearing thick, Heidi-style plaits) and muttered something about wanting to come in to look for a friend. He let me in for free, and 10 minutes later he let my friend in too. This is the sort of generosity that makes out of the way venues worth the trek, if you ask me.
Singing, dancing and deleriously dishevelled - the crowd inside of Love Lite can only be described as having more substance than style - and that's a good thing! The band's playfully dramatic singer shared the stage with half a dozen young, male musicians, one of whom was wearing a rubber cobra around his neck and playing some sort of wind instrument. Another was dressed all in black and playing a spider web-shaped double bass. A mandolin player and an insane drummer were also present, as well as numerous guest singers (most of whom seemed to be chosen at random from the audience). Shame I didn't have any camera!
After a few tunes, Pete and I were also dancing, singing and well on our way to becoming dishevelled as we peeled off layers in the steamy room. I think we both fully understood why so many Berliners had braved the rain in order to come and say farewell to Mr. Mostash. Too bad we won't be seeing this band again!