then, the debut album A Secret Wish has always been
on my playlist. It has become a little secret of mine as no
one else was listening to that sort of music in school at
the time (scary how quickly you earn an 'outsider' status
when 99% of your mates listen to the mainstream). It was
played to death. Luckily enough it was on compact disc. (The
only one that broke down was the CD player.) Time passed,
and I learned that the world is your oyster.
Fast forward to early 2018 - 32 years since the
split and I now live in Sweden. Whilst scrolling Facebook
updates, suddenly an announcement shows up. With no lengthy
intro, it read "Claudia Brucken and Susanne Freytag perform A
Secret Wish at The Garage, London on Saturday 24 March 2018".
OH. MY. GOD.
NO. WAY!! WHAT IS THAT?!
slightest hesitation, I pressed "buy" on the booking site. Then,
to my great pleasure, another show was added due to popular
demand. Another ticket secured. Shortly afterward flight and hotel
tickets. The countdown has started. I explained the plan to
my wife and understood what it meant for me to see them live after
32 years. She nodded and said "OK, if that’s so important for
you then you should go".
Arriving in the mid afternoon from Stockholm, I quickly headed to
my hotel in Kings Cross. With an intention of "documenting" the
entire show I decided to bring in my good old Lumix along with
audio recorders. Rushing off at Highbury & Islington tube
station I quickly joined the queue. It was around 18:00, an hour
before the doors opened. A sizeable number of people standing at
the entrance. A man wearing a "mesh" cap at the very front, then
another one with a t-shirt saying "Power, force, motion, drive".
On venue's blackboard it said "DHP Family Presents xPropaganda -
Sold Out". Expectation was building, slowly but surely.
after 19:00 the doors opened. All rushed in. Stupidly enough I
went to the cloak room to leave my jacket. By the time it was
done the front row was almost full. However, luckily on the left
end there was still a bit of space left. As it was close to the
bathroom, it was understandable why it was empty. However, the
front row is still a front row, I decided to position myself
act Ekkoes came on. With a
good mix of 80's pop and 00's indie, it was a good choice to
warm up for the evening. Dynamic and energetic, they played good
tunes of disco and techno. Again a nice mention of the main act
as the singer Jon Beck told us how he had enjoyed seeing them
soundcheck prior to the show. Another confirmation that it was
really happening! So their show ended.
the staff on stage and started to set up for the moment of truth.
32 years of expectation was about to reach its max limit and you
could feel the tension among the audience.
started clapping hands screaming for the band to come. Just a few
minutes after the due time, the lights went down and the backing
members walked up the stage. The audience went wild! Then as if
responding to them Claudia and Susanne stayed off the stage for a
few more minutes, effectively keeping us waiting and building up
even more tension!
patience tried to the limit, they finally showed up. More wild
screaming - only this time was it much louder than the first.
Looking happy and healthy, Susanne welcomed 600+ fans saying "So
many people, great to see you!". It certainly was great to
see YOU too!
main theme of the evening went they opened with Dream Within
A Dream the first track on A Secret Wish. How
amazing to hear it live. Much like the original it featured the
trumpet, giving it an organic and human feel, nicely enhancing
Susanne and her reciting of Edgar Allan Poe's poem.
As soon as it ended they kicked in with The Murder Of Love.
Backed by as murderously heavy bass-line as the name itself, it
brought the show to its next climax. Featuring jazzy solo by Steve
Lipson and his guitar in the middle, the audience sang along
loudly. However, a louder one was yet to come as Claudia screamed
in the microphone "1, 2, 3, 4"! Jewel - another
Propaganda anthem featuring heavy percussion and multi-layers of
synth sounds - but more so than on the album. Epic!
The setlist was predictable. At this point it
was clear that they were going to perform it in the
same running order as on the album. However, that was
not the point. The point was to hear the album in its
entirety LIVE. Two of the primary members singing
those songs together and playing live. So in that term
every song was fresh and new. The focus was about HOW
rather than what.
Singalong-wise Duel drew most
attention. No wonder, it was their most successful
single in the UK and it was performed in the heart of
the country. Claudia sang it like a diva, allowing us
to sing every word of it as if it was our own. How
experimental yet suggestive Frozen Faces it was time for P-Machinery,
the one I personally looked forward to hearing most. Along with Dr.
Mabuse it was my favourite due to its haunting melody and
its machine like soundscape. To me it's Propaganda at its best,
symbolic of their experimental side. Hearing it brought right back
to all the remixes and alternate versions I have grown up with. It
almost brought tears in my eyes.
Then it was
followed by Sorry for Laughing. Poppy yet heavy, it was
sung by Claudia with passion. I have to say the lighting on this
song was brilliant. Lighting up Claudia from the stage floor it
cast a huge silhouette on the wall. Very cinematic, reminding me
of Dr. Mabuse himself in the The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
movie. Intentional or not, the same theme carried on as the back
drape showed the black & white hand with the letter M on it.
Susanne whispered "Mabuuuse". The audience went ecstatic.
She went on singing: "Why does it hurt when my heart
misses the beat". I asked myself 'Why does it hurt when my
heart catches the beat'. It was hurting of joy and pleasure. An
emotional burst beating my heart. Then it was quickly followed by
her big simile, as if she was responding to us with so much love and
understanding. It was performed quite faithful to the album version.
Only toward the end it was a bit different as Steve Lipson brought
in extra guitar riffs. Some may argue if it was necessary or not.
The song may have sounded perfect without any additional riff in the
refrain. However, to me it fueled further emotion into the song. And
I would not argue with Steve deciding to do so. All in all, he was
the producer of A Secret Wish.
numbers followed. The Chase, a solid pop song featuring a
drum pad 'duel' by the girls and The Last Word (Strength to
Dream). How fitting to end the set with this song. Beautiful
synth riff backed by Paul Jones' drums and Susanne's last line "Is
all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?". Just how
perfect is that to end the show with a line that started the show
In terms of
consistency A Secret Wish live served everything that we
wanted to hear, except for one tiny detail (I will come back to it
point the show was phenomenal. Ten gorgeous songs sung by two
voices that represent Propaganda. I dare say that no one was left
untouched. As soon as they stepped off the stage the crowd asked
for more, chanting and screaming for an encore. Without further
delay they came back.
point on, all they would play was a bonus of the unknown. High in
expectation again. Susanne introduced the next number by
dedicating to Andreas Thein, the founding member of Propaganda who
unfortunately passed away in 2013. There was a fan that knew what
it was and screamed "Disziplin"! as soon as the intro
started. Susanne smiled back well acknowledging the guess.
Surprising yet perfect fit as it was this song that Thein and the
co. demoed as Propaganda for the first time. In a way it was like
Depeche Mode playing Photographic on their 2006 tour.
followed by Femme Fatale, another classic by Lou Reed and
Nico. Introduced as by "My musical heroes", Claudia sat
down on a chair and sang it ever gently. If Nico had been there
she would've loved it for sure.
carried on saying they would sing Duel again. To be
honest, I was a bit disappointed. If there was one more number to
perform out of their expansive catalogue I would've loved to hear
a 12 inch version of either Dr. Mabuse or P-Machinery.
All in all remixes and alternate versions are very important part
of their sound. That would've made a perfect end to what was
already an epic set of the evening. Anyway… I guess the choice was
obvious because of the popularity of the song. Nonetheless, it was
well received by the crowd, allowing a great singalong once again.
at the show a week later, it was literally like a dream within a
asked at the end of the set, yes our secret wish has finally come
true and there they were, two key figures of the band stood side
by side playing your favourite album in its entirety. Then add 32
years of waiting to it. I for one cannot thank the band enough for
making it happen. As much as A Secret Wish has earned a
place in history, I will happily sign it off on my bucket list and
cherish the memory for many years to come.
Setlist: Dream Within A Dream, The Murder Of Love, Jewel, Duel,
Frozen Faces, p:Machinery, Sorry for Laughing, Dr Mabuse, The
Chase, The Last Word (Strength to Dream), Disziplin,