Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Aratta - a hard place (to find)

By 1983, TSOM had quite a cult following in the UK and even the nay-sayers could see that they were likely to be the Next Big Thing, so for most gigs finding tapes, flyers, posters, ticket stubs, photos, eye-witness accounts and the like is not too difficult a task, particularly with more and more “oldies” now using social media and indulging in healthy bouts of nostalgia now that they have a little more time on their hands, in many cases. The same is true of venues, often only too happy to boast of their part in the rise of what is seen as an influential and genre-defining band.
However, the situation is somewhat different in Europe, and getting even the most basic of details of some shows can involve painstaking detective work. Take the four date German tour undertaken as part of the first overseas jaunt, the Trans Europe Excess tour, under the auspices of Rough Trade Deutschland if the backstage pass available on the band’s official website (and reproduced here) is to be believed.

Three of the dates were, predictably, in large cities (Berlin, Munster, and of course, Hamburg) to which the band have returned time and time again, but little has surfaced from this inaugural visit.
The fourth gig was in the curious rural venue of the Aratta club near Moers, on the fringes of the Ruhr near to the Dutch border. This is a venue so seemingly obscure that one well-respected Bauhaus gigography still refers to the club as the “Ratter” and situates Moers in Belgium !

Although the Aratta is situated on the main road from Moers to Rheinberg, it is in a tranquil location not far from the Haferbruchsee lake, a well-known nudist hang-out in the 1980s. The club is still going strong today, partly as a result of its Outdoor Beach Party which was apparently all the rage in the 2006 football World Cup, which Germany of course hosted. The venue, which celebrated its centenary three years ago, caters for the “trance/rave” end of the market nowadays, but both the interior and exterior are largely unchanged from the time of the TSOM visit, as can be seen from the photo below from the club's website.

For the Sisters gig, there was a photo published in the German publication Spex as part of a review of the tour, which eventually found its way on to the Gallery at the Heartland Forum, and which I am reproducing below, showing the cramped low stage with mirrored backdrop that can be seen on other contemporary gig photos like the one underneath it.

In addition, one of the original posters advertising the gig on 2/9/1983 has also come to light, kindly shared on Heartland by one of the most hardcore TSOM collectors, another addition to an impressive archive cataloguing an era which many fans still regard as the halcyon days of the group in a live context.

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