WED 30 MAY 2001

I’d Lada be in Russia

Hello my Embrace loving chums, it’s time for another update from your correspondent on the Helloween Dark Ride World tour. This week I find myself in Russia, a first for me, and what a surprising place it is. Anyone expecting to hear tales of people willing to sell their daughters for a pair of Levi’s, your going to be sadly disappointed (I know I was :-). These days BMW’s outnumber Lada’s and no self respecting Muscovite would consider themselves dressed without a Prada handbag or Gucci shoes. Well that’s not strictly true of course as there’s still a lot of people completely left behind by the capitalist boom. However they’re a resourceful lot and will find any opportunity to try to sell whatever they can lay their hands on in order to make ends meet, and in the most unusual places too. For instance the breakfast waiters at our hotel in St Petersburg walked around the tables with trays covered by a white cloth, which would be swept back as they approached you to reveal a glittering array of items going cheap, anything from watches to caviar! Unfortunately, the new western influences mean that McDonalds can now be found on every street, just like everywhere else, now is that really progress I ask myself?

Anyway, did a couple of top gigs in Russian Enormodome’s; the one in Moscow was the Red Army Ice Hall across the road from the Dynamo stadium, complete with the Russian army acting as a human barrier. Also, the “Oki Watashi” played a very short impromptu set, at a jam session, in a club in St Petersburg, which met with much critical acclaim from the mostly young and impressionable crowd. Afterwards, blues guitar legend “Ringo Kinky” said, and I quote “We may not have been the best band to play here tonight, but we certainly were the loudest”. As a result of the debut “Oki Watashi” gig going so smoothly, ie, we were not canned off stage, the tour sponsor insisted we do a second impromptu set at the last night Harley Davidson party, but this time under the name of the “Balshoi Ya” which is Russian for “Oki Watashi”. Now, this seemed like a good idea at the time, but after fearsome amounts of free booze of all descriptions, washed down by the occasional vodka shot, the”Oki Watashi” were a little bit “confused” by the time they hit the stage and also a bit nervous because Russian MTV proceeded to film the whole event. We went onstage after the strippers, which seem to be an essential part of every night out in Moscow, and fumbled and in some cases mimed our way through 2 or 3 songs, none of which I can remember now, let alone then. Great fun of course for us drunken roadies but I hope no one ever sees that footage. As is customary, the old memory gets a bit foggy around this time. There are a few gaps, but I do remember finishing the evening at some ridiculous hour of the morning in a bar with some new Russian friends, talking and dancing and singing some Russian Karaoke songs, all of which made perfect sense to me at the time.

Can’t wait to get back there!

Oh, and I nearly forgot to tell you that we visited Lenin’s tomb where his dead body is preserved in a glass case. You’re not allowed to talk as you file through and you’re not allowed to put your hands in your pockets either. And, apparently his facial hair and fingernails are still growing and have to be kept trimmed once a week. Now isn’t that brilliant!

That is all, Nosdrovia and Spasseba, love Milky x

David Millward