It’s the early hours of Saturday morning in downtown Tallinn and having been summoned over to sample the exotic delights of Estonian music we’re now well into our second hour of Depeche Mode songs, in front of a large Depeche Mode poster, in the Depeche Mode bar.
This curious monument to Essex’ foremost industrial electro-rock outfit may be as empty as Dave Gahan’s soul (late-eighties vintage) but is also nicely indicative of this city’s uniquely quirky charms. Capital of a former Soviet republic, it’s one of the most technologically-advanced locations in the world – pretty much the whole town is a wi-fi hotspot – while also teeming with majestic old medieval buildings, many of which have had gig venues carved into them.
These musical hotspots are now awash with wristbanded folk as it’s the second annual Tallinn Music Week, a beautifully-managed showcase featuring the best, most promising and just downright wonkiest talents in Estonia (and a few neighbours). Even the country’s president, in his opening address, suggests that “what is considered alternative music elsewhere, here is definitely part of the mainstream.” Nice bowtie, too.
We begin at Mustpeade Maja with Maria Minerva, a chirpy young singer accompanied by a surly-looking bloke who could well be her sulky younger brother, forced to join in by their parents. He provides a varied array of beats but also a great surge of feedback halfway through which puts Minerva off her stroke. She’s shaky but ploughs on regardless.