Music & clubs

Critic’s choice: Top 5 gigs for November

Catch Patti Smith - for free! As the city celebrates the Fall of the Wall, our music editor picks the most exciting concerts coming up this month - all channeling the city's gusto for breaking down borders.

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Photo by Dadi Thierry Kouame. Catch Bonaparte at Festsaal Kreuzberg on Nov 30, 20:00.
Ever since the Wall came down, Berlin has been dancing to its own techno beat. This month’s most exciting concerts channel the city’s gusto for breaking down borders. In the bloodstained decade lead­ing up to the Fall of the Wall, music emerged, as it so often does, in protest against that separa­tion. In the GDR, the sneering punk of Planlos and Feeling B was anath­ema to the prescribed futures laid down by the Communist Party. Out west, the exigent futurism of the “Trans Europa Express” was the first true dance hit, propelling the beat­ing heart of the Neue Deutsche Welle to “Der Mussolini” in revolt. And when the Wall did finally fall, both East and West found their strength in the sound of techno, and Berlin has been dancing ever since. Recent history has given Berliners precious few things to celebrate in November, so on the 30th anniversary of this historic moment, it’s high time to cherish those gigs that recognise the beauty of diversity. First up, Patti Smith. The legendary punk poet and activist will play a show titled Erinnerung (that’s “Memory” for the Deutsch-averse) at the Pierre Boulez Saal. A second concert – Walls Will Crumble – happens the next evening at the Gethsemane Church in Pren­zlauer Berg (get down early, this one is free and ticketing is unreserved). If you’re the type that needs an excuse to see Patti Smith then this is the best one you’ll ever get. Probably the most exciting act in Berlin this month is Sudan Archives. Brittney Denise Parks brings her violin to Säälchen, to play her new album Athena, which blends tra­ditional Sudanese fiddle with the freshest beats. West Coast hip hop influences are obvious and her cre­dentials in that regard are airtight, as she is more than finding her feet amongst the many vaunted produc­ers on Stone Throw Records’ books. Her new work is confrontational and confident R&B and Athena is a fit­ting title for an artist who is arriving at her sound in a very big way. If you want your music a little more dancey, Acid Arab is a group of French and North African produc­ers who mix Arabic melodies with electronic production. Their 2016 LP Musique de France was a breakout hit and October’s Jdid sees the group developing confidently. Working with artists from North Africa and the Middle East, the album is neither pastiche nor homage, but a celebra­tion of the vitality of the region’s sounds. They’ve played Gretchen plenty of times and always brought the house down. If you’re going, ex­pect them to start later in the night. In the spirit of historical remem­brance, fans of prog and indulgers of a very, very German brand of cheese might consider Karat. The veteran GDR rockers have never been the tempestuous sort, but their 1982 album Der Blaue Planet is nevertheless a legitimate classic and should be rightly recognised for inspiring people either side of the Wall. Head to Admiralspalast if you dare – this one is sure to be an unforgettable experience, one way or another. Finally, Berlin bids farewell to one of her adopted sons as Bonaparte calls time on his frenzied touring schedule. Thirteen years and 704 shows later, the globe-trotting circus of musicians, dancers and per­formers will come to rest in Festsaal Kreuzberg. His newest album, Was mir passiert, a German-language afrobeat affair recorded in Ivory Coast’s Abidjan is a curious one, even for a man who can count his diehard fans in scores of languages. A real citizen of the world, Tobias Jundt’s home is wherever the music takes him.
Patti Smith | Pierre Boulez Saal, Mitte, Nov 4, 19:30 and Gethsemane Church, Prenzlauer Berg, Nov 5, 20:00 Sudan Archives | Säälchen, Friedrichs­hain, Nov 12, 20:00 Acid Arab | Gretchen, Kreuzberg, Nov 15, 21:00 Karat | Admiralspalast, Mitte, Nov 16, 20:00 Bonaparte | Festsaal Kreuzberg, Treptow, Nov 30, 20:00