The whole ‘Midnight Love’ album sounds like a haunted landscape when you walk around the place it was written, listening to it. You hear loneliness, desperation and addiction, when wandering streets such as Langestraat, covered in neon signs and once home to numerous brothels and sex shows. The album sounds like the music to a party held in a half-empty eurotrash nightclub, frequented by men too old to still be going out. It is an eerily psychedelic album, right from the opening song ‘Midnight Lady’, in which Marvin sings the lyrics “something’s going on in the men’s room, soon as we come out we’ll be high soon, did you save a line for the ladies?” over a frantic, zany ‘80s baseline that sounds like it was probably recorded whilst the bassist was high on the white stuff.
At the end of the promenade I reached Kursaal Casino, which looked closed, but I tried a couple of doors and one was open, so I snuck in to look at the statue of Marvin Gaye I’d heard was on display. If Marvin’s ghost decided to come back and find peace in Ostend, the place that helped to get him creating again, it would have been here, in the venue that brought him to the city in the first place. A spot where he did what helped his soul fly and his demons dissipate or, in his own words on Midnight Love’s ‘Put On Some Music’: “Music’s been my therapy, taking the pain from all my anatomy”.
It was a poignant sight, because it seemed to capture, in bronze, how lost and lonely Marvin was at the end of his life. It sat alone in a huge hall, nobody around, no flowers at its base, like I had seen on one of King Leopold I’s statues. Finally, though, I’d found a statue in Belgium of someone who I was glad had been immortalised. A statue I didn’t have the urge to spit at.
To book the tour online, visit the Marvin Gaye Midnight Love Tour website.
Solitary travel & bookings recommended.
Rental of iPhone with app and headphones is £5
Alternatively you can contact or visit the tourism information office in Ostende at:
Toerisme Oostende Monacoplein 2 8400 Ostende
Telephone: +32 (0) 59 70 11 99