The good old days

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  March 11, 2010

All that was missing was the miniature zeppelin that floated over the Admiralspalast audience in Berlin during the taping of the band’s 2009 DVD, Heute Nacht oder nie (“Tonight or Never”) — a reminder that during the ’30s the Hindenburg and the Graf Zeppelin were crossing the skies. (Raabe told me that they can’t always use it — strong air conditioning, for one thing, will cause it to zip about like a tennis ball instead of hovering poetically.) Actually, the DVD was also missing — the audience emerged primed to buy Palast Orchester CDs and DVDs (of which there are many) and perhaps even a Max Raabe poster, but there was none to be had. Neither was there food or drink (Champagne would have been the thing) to be consumed at intermission. There was, in fact, no intermission — the Palast simply presented two 90-minute sets, one at 5 and one at 8.

The five o’clock audience — a relatively old one, as far as I could see — wasn’t ready to go home: groans of protest greeted Raabe’s “With the following song, we’d like to say goodbye.” “No one regrets that more than us,” he then sighed, before announcing that the final number would be “a waltz. A German waltz. Not as elegant as a Viennese waltz. But louder.” “Dort tanzt Lu-Lu” (“Lu-Lu’s Dancing Over There”) ended in a flurry of handbells from the orchestra. The audience insisted on an encore; Raabe gave a ghost of a smile to his “If you don’t mind” and they served up “You’re the Cream in My Coffee.” They were certainly the cream in our coffee. As for the Paramount, all lit up as if Washington Street were once again an exciting place to be, the Palast Orchester number that came to mind was “Happy Days Are Here Again.”

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