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Monday, March 03, 2008

Two Days with Heartrocker Emre

"Cultural Mosaics" by Timi, writing from Budapest, Hungary

emreaydın rocks Germany – and my heart

Diary entry: Thursday, 07:10, Budapest

Frantically search through my suitcase if everything is in place. Quickly wash hair, light make-up, off to airport. Petra picks me up at Kalvin Square, we arrive on time. Check-in already done on-line, no queue, waiting some 45 mins because of plane delay. How I hate flying! I mean, I hate the take-off and landing. In between I'm fine, really. Landing at Dortmund, 12:30. Shuttle bus to train station, bought tickets last minute, manage to catch intercity train to Köln (Cologne). German towns are grey, grey and grey everywhere, hardly ever any coloured buildings. I thank God that I live in Hungary. Strange isn't it? You start to value your own country when you visit some other.

14:01, Cologne, Germany

Arrive in Köln. I have a map to show us where the hotel is. Map is easier than reality... Have to go round some thousand buildings and ask Germans who don't speak English where hotel is. Weather windy and cold, and the streets are cobble-paved, so fine for pulling suitcases on them. Manage to reach hotel, go to check in. We don't have a clue if we have rooms arranged, as our Turkish friends always forget to let us know such tiny details. Call Hadi on phone. No answer. Call Serkan on phone. No answer. Ask reception, we have rooms, yay, hurray, whatever. Off to rooms. Settle down, calling Hadi and Serkan in turns, nobody answers. I'm getting ridiculously angry and nervous, Petra is just lying on bed laughing at me. "Calm down sweetie, they'll answer after all". Oh yeah, but when? Time is ticking away, no answer from any of the managers I have connection with. Call Ismail abi in Turkey if he knows what's going on. 20 desperate mins later get a text message from Serkan. Meet in you in five minutes in the lobby. Finally...

15:00, Maritim lobby

Taking the elevator down to lobby, hotel is very nice indeed, I just manage to notice it. Is this really a four star one, we wonder. Serkan, the organizer and Fadil, Emre's tour manager are sitting in lobby, smoking (what else could a Turkish man do, when seated?), greetings, small talk, band members start to arrive one by one. More greetings more small talk. Emre arrives last, huge smile on his face, he recognises me immediately. Hug, kisses, more small talk. I congratulate him on his latest two awards [PowerTürk 2008 Music Awards for Best Song and Best Duet (with rock band Gripin)]. He mentions how difficult it was this time to win them, because of strong competition from Yalın and Murat Boz. Smiling, cheerful, bit tired he looks. Dressed in black, with his indispensable pinky-violet scarf. A cutie he is, Petra is positively surprised. He laughs when we tell him now he can practice his English, as Petra doesn't speak Turkish. "After this two days I will, I'm sure", she jokes. I'm looking around to catch sight of my dear Hadi, the top manager. Missed him awfully. Turns out he broke down sick in the morning and is unable to leave his room. Poor guy, that's why he didn't answer my calls.

15:10, road to Bochum

Off to Bochum. We take the minibus with Fadil, Kenan, the drummer and Yusuf, the electric guitarist. Guys are not very talkative, really have to fight for getting two words out of them. Stop on way to pick up some drums. Köln is not pretty. Like all the towns we pass by. I'll not be too much of a fan of Germany, I guess.

17:30, Bochum, Zeche

Me, Emre and Serkan in Bochum
Me, Emre and Serkan in Bochum
Finally we arrive in Bochum. Band is already getting ready for sound-check. Separated room for us, loads of food and drinks, Emre is already having coffee. We were late with an hour or so because of picking up the drums. Sit down, coffee and chips, finally we have time to talk. Emre is quite talkative, though sometimes set back by his English. I manage to translate when necessary. Sound-check begins, Emre seems to be hard on band, striving for perfect sound. There seems to be a problem with the sound set-up for violin.

Discontent on Emre's face. Fadil lets us know that venue will be almost empty. There's a Galatasaray match in Köln tonight, he says, all Turks will be over there. Dinner, then we walk over to backstage, which is separated from the rest of the building and we have to go outside, walk round the building and enter from the backyard. Damn cold and rainy. Gözde (bass guitar) and Melis (violin) disappear to change clothes. Then guys occupy the other room to change too. Gözde does not speak too much, just usually sits there with her long red hair shining in the lights and prepares her unusual red make-up for the concert. Melis is charming, long blonde hair down to her bottom, she is very nice and friendly. Emre lines his eyes in black. Seems strange at first but later I admit it suits him great. Yusuf and Kenan are still a bit cold towards us.

21:30 concert

Concert begins. Venue not full, but some 100 people are present. As Emre takes stage, screaming begins. They scream as if a thousand people were present. Petra gets excited, Emre's voice totally charms us. Crystal clear, amazingly clear voice. Flying smoothly like a bird in the air. We are goosebumps all over. Crowd goes wild. And wild. And wilder. In the middle of the concert Emre, Gözde and Melis take a huge drum (the ones we picked up en route), they play MFÖ's "Sude", improvisation lyrics without meaning, but the sound, the sound! Beating like a tribal song, right into the middle of your heart, coupled with his unusually clear, high pitched voice. Never imagined he could sing so well, so powerfully. This short guy, below 170 cm, becomes a giant on stage. Petra shouts me her opinion, "Jeeeez, he's GOOD, he is!" We agree that this show could make the crowd go screaming anywhere in the world. Is the boy talented, oh God, he is!

00:35, Köln, hotel

Concert ends frantically, we express to Emre and the band how great it was. For like an hour more Petra and I talk about the concert, while lying in our beds. I lost my voice, have a frog in the throat because of screaming and shouting the song lyrics.

Friday, 10:00, breakfast, city tour

At breakfast it turns out we are in a five star hotel. Never saw in my whole life such a range of food for breakfast. Hadi and Fadil appears. Hadi looks awful, doesn't let me kiss him, "you gonna catch it dear". We literally force Algopyrin down his throat telling him it's better than all the pills he has. The band follows us, Emre is last as always, he looks even worse than Hadi. Seems like he could not really rest that night. He misses breakfast, restaurant is already closed. We set off for a walk in the city. The group divides in two. Gözde, Yusuf, Kenan, Tufan (the Tonmeister) and Emir (the roadie, whose nickname is "the doctor") leave earlier. We join Hadi, Fadil, Serkan, Emre and Melis. Loooong tour around the centre, my legs feel like stone. Into shops, out of shops... Then they discover a music shop. Never ever go into a music shop with a musician! Two hours in search for a suitable guitar for Emre. He tries a thousand pieces it seems. He looks so cute sitting there with his pinky scarf round his neck, playing one guitar after the other, frowning over the tone of them, raising his head in a Turkish manner expressing "no" when asked if it is suitable for him. Petra takes a close-up of his hands. Finally he finds the right guitar, Hadi pays and there we go again walking. Lunch in an Italian restaurant, again we have some time to talk. Petra tells Emre how much she liked him singing a-cappella and advises to do it more. Emre sort of blushes a bit.

Fadil and SerkanEmre playing guitar in the music shop
Fadil and SerkanEmre playing guitar in the music shop

16:00, off to venue

Our walk-around-the-city tour took almost 5 hours. Tired as we are, we set off to Gloria, again sound-check, again dinner. I meet Alper Ağa, the apparently once famous rapper of Cartel, who came to watch the concert. This time it's crowded. Full. 600 people, screaming for Emre. And there he goes again, and there's the crowd going wild again. He smiles and the girls start fainting – and climbing up to the stage. Fadil shoots out of backstage in a sec, grabs girl's hips and simply puts her back into the crowd. And Emre keeps insisting he doesn't need bodyguards... Yeah right :)

Concert over, we are divided into two. Emre leaves with first group, so we say goodbye to each other, as our train is about to leave in two hours. He hugs us tight and thanks for our feedback. We again take the minibus with Fadil, Yusuf and Kenan. By the end of the two days the two guys' coldness vanished away, I'm sure if we stayed a bit longer now we could call them friends. Farewell in the lobby, everyone goes to sleep. Fadil and Serkan remain seated in the lobby, we sit down as well to wait for the train. Everyone's tired. A Turkish organizer from the Netherlands is with us, talking and talking and talking and the two tired guys are just nodding and nodding and yawning. Miserable dears of mine. Finally the talkative one gives up and goes to sleep. Fadil and Serkan remains with us. We suspect they don't want us to keep waiting for the train alone, and tell them to shoot off, but they are unwilling. Cute dear guys, they are. Then they see us out and catch us a taxi.

13:50, closing

One hour by train to Dortmund. We can't talk, tiredness takes over. We have to wait one hour in the cold for the shuttle bus, then we go through the security gates at the airport. We are already dying. Haven't slept since 9 o'clock Friday morning. We sleep while waiting for the plane, and almost miss it. 8:30, Saturday morning we arrive in Budapest. As I get home all I can do is to fall into bed like a sack of potatoes, totally numb.

But it was worth it. Worth everything. Now that I have seen him perform live, I am 100% sure that this guy has all the talent to be a world star. And this visit offered me the opportunity to see if my previous worries were justifiable. I'm happy to say, that thank God, Emre has not yet become a celebrity. He is a still an artist.

And as a closing sentence, I would like hereby to thank Fadil Dincer and Serkan Kaya for their immense help and good heart, and Hadi Elazzi for being the angel he has always been.

You guys rock the world.

Watch Emre Aydın Live

Emre & band performing "Sude" in Köln:

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