Apart from the few shows the Jukes did with Bon Jovi in 2001, it has been almost eleven years since the band last performed in Germany – scary stuff if you think about the way in which the world has changed since then. And before anyone starts getting the impression that the band boycotted Germany or anything, there are a lot of commercial reasons that make it very difficult for overseas artists to perform in Germany.

However, since everything comes to they who wait, or words to that effect, the Jukes’ German fans’ patience was finally rewarded on October 25, 2003 when the band played at the Hyde Park club in Osnabrück.

Never heard of the place? Well, picture the scene… somewhere on the north side  of Osnabrück just off the A1 (Bremen/Dortmund) there is a piece of waste ground cum car-park with a building on it that looks a little like the Stone Pony – different colours on the walls mind you, but nevertheless, similar in structure. In addition, a weird and wonderful looking Hendrix-esque creation, seemingly made out of scrap metal and complete with guitar, welcomes you to the club. (Apparently the owner is a Jukes’ fan and it was mainly thanks to him that this exclusive German show became part of the 2003 tour schedule.)

The day’s events began with an afternoon autograph session at JPC, a record store in the center of Osnabrück. This was attended by Southside Johnny and Bobby Bandiera and attracted a whole bunch of loyal fans, eagerly awaiting a unique opportunity to meet the guys off-site, as it were.

A few hours and a packed Hyde Park club later, the assembled masses were on the brink of an unforgettable evening.

It was evident from the second that Southside Johnny and Bobby Bandiera walked
onto the stage minus the rest of the band that the highlight factor would loop the loop. And loop the loop it did! Time Is Running Wild and Fade Away as openers?? Wonderful stuff.

Unchain My Heart launched the full band show and as it segued into I Played The Fool”, Eddie — stepping forward to take his solo — had a close encounter of the unexpected kind as a sudden burst of enthusiasm from Johnny (read: left-hook) almost knocked him flying! Undeterred, Eddie carried on as if it was a normal occurrence.

With every song that was performed, the show gathered momentum and it seemed as if the band was making up for lost time. Ageless, evocative, classics from albums such as: Hearts Of Stone, Better Days, Messin’ With The Blues, Going To Jukesville and the Ruff Stuff sampler all featured, and it was like the band had never been away.

So how did 99 Red Balloons find its way onto the set-list I hear you ask??

Well, it began when Jeff played a Scorpions’ riff on piano which led to an on-stage discussion about German rock songs. A voice from the front responded and called for 99 Red Balloons, Bobby heard it and, in a nano-heartbeat, started to sing it. Did the audience react?? You bet they did! The place erupted as the rest of the band picked up Bobby’s lead. And although it was effectively just an intro, the familiar sound of this song made famous by Germany’s own rock goddess, Nena, undeniably went down a storm.

There was even a little role reversal during the show when Johnny suggested taking over lead guitar while the regular lead guitarist did a little movin’ and groovin’ with someone from the front row…!

A personal highlight for me was hearing Monkey In The Middle. It was absolutely brilliant and so good to hear one of Bobby’s original songs from his first CD, Bandiera. Since Joe Bellia, Steve “Muddy” Shews, Joey Stann and Eddie Manion regularly play with Bobby when he does his own shows, it was great to have a taster of the Jersey Shore club scene sound right here in Germany.

During the course of the show, all of the band members had an opportunity to take the spotlight and I find it impossible to single out one solo from another because all of the Jukes are all so incredibly accomplished at what they do. Suffice to say the chill factor these guys create whenever they take center-stage is spectacular. And as you can see from the set-list below, this show had everything… it rocked, it rolled, it had blues, it had doo-wop, it had heart, it had soul… oh yeah… it had pure, unadulterated, twenty-four carat, heart and soul alright.

All too soon, the significance of the opening song had become apparent… time had run wild… and suddenly, Johnny was saying “Goodnight” – but only until next year, evidently.

Four sensational encores later, the show ended with a totally wonderful version of Hearts Of Stone. But when the house lights finally came on, it wasn’t just the road crew and technicians that came onto the stage; the entire band came back out to sign autographs, have their photographs taken and generally meet and greet the many hundreds of fans who had waited such a long time for the Jukes to return to Germany.

No amount of words can describe the feel-good factor this show generated but I guess if the energy had been measured in megawatts, it would have lit up Osnabrück for a week!

Sincere thanks to Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes for Coming Back to  Germany!

Set List:
Time Is Running Wild
Fade Away
Unchain My Heart
I Played The Fool
Gladly Go Blind
Talk To Me
Coming Back
All I Needed Was You
Walk Away Renee / Just My Imagination
Baby Don’t Lie
All Night Long / Gimmie Shelter
99 Red Balloons (Intro only)
Autobahn (Jeff Kazee Intro only)
Tired Skin
Somebody To Love You
She’s Still In Love
All The Way Home
Monkey In The Middle
Without Love
The Fever
Trapped Again
Passion Street
I Don’t Want To Go Home
I Walk The Line
I’ve Been Working Too Hard
Folsom Prison Blues
Come And Go With Me
Having A Party
Hearts Of Stone

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