Nina Hagen – Rockpalast, 1978

I remember watching this show on TV, all those years ago; it was like having the door kicked in. The lyrics, the music, and omg the voice. I fell right in love with her first album, but this song was always a particular favorite. I should have posted this one on 8 March, of course; it’s such a great song about (breaking with) normative gender roles. 30 years on, and if anything it seems more relevant.

For some it was Sex Pistols, the Saints, or Ramones, or maybe Clash, Sham 69 or Buzzcocks who gave Punk a body, made you feel you belonged there. For me it was Nina Hagen. She had the abundance of energy, the complete lack of respect, the in-your-face attitude, and the secret longing for simple pop that all good punk has – and then she mixes it with humour, disregard of commercial potential, and stunt vocals.

And of course it doesn’t hurt that Nina Hagen Band was basically a great straight-out rock band with a vocalist to rival the very best in rock.

I was a huge fan of the Rockpalast show at the time. They broadcast real bands, playing live, to a real audience. I was still in school at the time and didn’t have much opportunity to go see the bands I was listening to. I think these shows played a major role in wetting my appetite for the live experience; I blame them for all the money I spent on concerts in the following years. Since I got in the habit of watching every show, no matter the band(s), they also opened my eyes to plenty of bands.

I got to see Nina Hagen several times live in the years that followed. I always enjoyed her larger-than-life on-stage persona and the playfulness of her act, the way she used and expressed gender, and her non-conformance. To me, she will always be linked to the Berlin scene I came to love in the years that followed.

To me, Nina Hagen 1978-1979 is a stellar moment in rock. Nina Hagen of course continued on a rampage through pop music styles and performances, taking her vocal, hairstyle, and fashion sense where no woman had gone before – but that’s (maybe) for another post.

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