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Many Berliners didn’t want it (“too big, too expensive, too American, spoils the view, too un-Berlin-ish”), but now it’s there: Berlin’s latest and greatest Auditorium for concerts and sports events, dubbed “O2 World”. Word on the street is that the formerly English, now Spanish Mobile Network Operator put in excess of 70 million euros into this building. And on Friday a week ago, it was the opening night!

On that occasion, the O2 guys had hired a minor local band to present their latest album. I didn’t really know who they were, and the album title “Death Magnetic” sounds silly to me, but there we go. Apparently, all the money went into the building, so there was none left to get a classy act for the opening.

Thankfully, this was reflected in the minuscule ticket price. 10 euros were enough to buy you in – under these circumstances it was no wonder that 17.000 showed up. For a tenner, you don’t even get into the shabbier discotheques anymore. If you ask me, the band extended their welcome a bit though – they played two hours. Astonishingly, the crowd went ballistic as soon as the first guy of that band entered the stage that was set up like a boxing ring right in the middle of the hall. The sound could have been better, though it was certainly loud enough – but then, it was the first concert on the first night of that hall, so you gotta give those guys a break.

Funnily, I thought I had heard some of the songs before somewhere – songs like “Until It Sleeps” or “Master of Puppets” rang familiar. Probably the band just covered them, but they did so not badly at all. Not badly at all indeed.

So how is that latest addition to Berlin’s lineup of big-time venues? In size and appearance it looks like we can only pray and hope the “Arrivals” hall of that new Berlin airport, BBI, might look one day. If Tegel airport had such a spacious and convenient, if sterile, building, no-one would think of closing it. Facilities and amenities are great – even with 17k visitors, there were hardly any queues at the loo or the many food outlets. The seating is somewhat uncomfortable for big-assed people though. And for that band – well, I guess they weren’t too bad for the opening night after all. They too sounded pleasingly…

…new.