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Lisa Stansfield: From Russia with Love………

Sept 17th, 2013

Yes. I know, I know, I know. About time….

It’s just that life is so busy, it’s only when I go back to being a musician temporarily, that I can find the time to write a blog.

Anyway, this week sees a short trip to Moscow and Istanbul as a precursor to the main tour in October so I’ll do my best to get my blogging chops in.


9.05 am sees us all convene at Heathrow Terminal 5 for the latest leg in the new, improved, extended, on-going Lisa Stansfield 2013 tour.

Unfortunately the day got off to a bad start with the last minute news that Andrea won’t be coming with us due to an illness in the family. We all wish her well and hope that everything works out for the best.

In the meantime we will have to battle on without her in Moscow and hope that we can get Lorraine, who’s filled in for Andrea before, to join us in Istanbul on Wednesday.

It was business as usual in the airport with Snowboy and Mickey enjoying a breakfast pint and me wandering around swearing, looking for a Costa coffee. No luck, sadly. Only Starbucks.

What’s the point of that?

I’m actually going to join the global movement to boycott Starbucks. Not because they are an evil corporation. On the contrary. I like evil corporations. Given half a chance, I’d be one.

No. We should boycott Starbucks because their coffee tastes like a Kandahar puddle. Foul, insipid stuff whose only effect is diuretic.

Anyway, back to the business in hand. After a fairly uneventful flight – Mick played with his new iPad and I talked at Dave – we arrived at a drizzly, overcast Moscow airport courtesy of BA – the world’s grumpiest airline.

I love Moscow….

We’ve been here quite a few times before and, as an avid reader of soviet history, this place just fascinates me. It’s a city of big extremes and even bigger contradictions and I’m looking forward to doing some exploration tomorrow.

Barely 20 years ago the ownership of cars was reserved for the privileged few but today the road from the airport into Moscow is one massive long car park, not of Zil limousines and clapped out Ladas, but Mercedes, BMW and every type of vehicle you could imagine. It took us 2½ hours to cover the 26 miles from the airport to the city centre.

Are we nearly there yet?

By the time we eventually reached the hotel it was 10.30pm and we were already late for the soundcheck. We have two shows while we are here in Moscow – both on the same day. We are doing one song (guess which one) on a live TV show from the GQ Awards followed by a 45 minute, greatest hits set at the after show party and we were supposed to do a quick soundcheck this evening for the TV show.

We dumped our stuff at the hotel and hot footed it to the theatre where the Awards were being held. However, as so often is the case, the panic was totally unnecessary as we arrived at the theatre to find them still building the set.

At first we didn’t mind that they weren’t ready…..

Then we did……….

It was pretty clear that there wasn’t going to be much sound checking going on, so….

….we went to the pub.

Actually, to be more precise, we went to a bar restaurant next door to the theatre. We had a meal booked here for after the sound check but, as we weren’t having a sound check any more, we asked them to get cracking in the kitchens.

Thankfully they were more than happy to oblige and kept us entertained in the meantime with several carafes of what they said was vodka but which looked and tasted like liquid nitrogen. Of course Mick, being ever mindful of not insulting the locals, got well and truly stuck in and, by the time the food arrived, he was in full flight.

Before the vodka arrived

I should say that this restaurant was (is) the most extraordinary place. The decor was very dark, austere 1930s temperance bar with just the right amount of archetypical soviet industry. Lots of dark mahogany, almost French, fittings and you could just imagine the place lit by gas and frequented by Trotskyist intellectuals plotting the downfall of the Tsarist regime in favour of a glorious socialist utopia.

Instead it was currently lit by the glow of iPhones and frequented by raggy arsed musicians talking about the football scores – especially how Wycombe Wanderers beat Hartlepool 2:1 the week before last. (C’mon Chairboys!)

However, the most striking thing about the place was…….

….people were smoking! Indoors!

I’d forgotten what it was like being in a restaurant surrounded by a haze of fag smoke. To be honest it was more disconcerting than disgusting and we got used to it pretty quickly but nevertheless, the next morning my clothes stunk like an ashtray.

By about midnight, the food arrived and – oh my god!

The temptation is to write off russian food as being cabbage soup and gristly sausages but this……

This was something else. Despite being served up in a 1930s northern pub environment – complete with fag smoke and drunken Hartlepudlian – I think I can safely say this was one of the best meals I have ever eaten. And I’ve eaten a few (…. thank you!)

Virtually to a man, everyone eulogised about their meal and, by the time we had finished, we all had to be wheeled out of the place. Of course, this was all washed down with the requisite amount of liquid nitrogen which all added to the sense of occasion and we drank a number of toasts to the health of Andrea’s mum.

After the vodka arrived

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again.

I love Moscow….

And so, it was back to the hotel for a quick night cap and a good night’s kip. I put the light out at around 2.30 am and next thing I know……. it’s show day.

Mick gives his world renowned lecture on the reproductive cycle of the emperor penguin

Statler & Waldorf

Oh, the glamour…….

Mick buys Gill the biggest bottle of scent he can find


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