September 18th, 2013
Lisa Stansfield – GQ Awards, Moscow
After quite a long day yesterday, I woke in my room at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow after a good night’s sleep ready to face the world.
Once I’d had a coffee, obviously.
The Metropol Hotel. What a place! It was originally built in 1899 as a hotel but, after the Russian revolution it was commandeered by the Bolsheviks, renamed Second House of Soviets and used as living quarters for communist bureaucrats. And you can just feel that atmosphere oozing from the very walls.
Despite its very grand foyer and public rooms, once you get upstairs it resembles something like a 1930s sanatorium, with stark, institutionalised concrete and marble construction. As Mick and I agreed, it reminded us of the old Hartlepool General Hospital.
I can just imagine legions of soviet-era po-faced commissars striding purposefully along the corridors to deliver a memo banning smiling during the hours of darkness or packing anti-soviets off to the gulags for stepping on the cracks in the pavement in an un-revolutionary manner.
11.30 am – assemble in the lobby to head off to the sound check.
You know. The one that should have happened last night.
11.30 call in the lobby
We arrived at the theatre at around midday and they STILL hadn’t finished the bloody set! Despite Mick’s suggestion that we head off to the bar we were in last night, we hung in there and before long they were ready for us.
Just the one song to do for the TV show so we batted through that in double quick time. As Andrea is not here, it was decided that I should cover her vocals in ‘All Around the World’. Good job it’s not in too high a key otherwise it would have been out with the tight trousers.
The lighting guy got a new toy for Xmas
Once we had satisfied ourselves that everything sort of worked and that someone had put a shilling in the meter, we piled back into our luxury revolutionary peoples minibus and headed back for another sound check for the after show party which, rather conveniently, was being held in our hotel.
Now then, after yesterday’s debacle where we arrived at the sound check to find the set not even built, the chances of that happening again, two days in a row, have to be very slim indeed, right?
Mick and I decided to take advantage of the fact that sound check number two was running at least 3 hours late by heading off to Red Square for a spot of sight seeing. Fortunately it was literally a 5 minute walk away, so off we trooped.
No matter how many times you go to Red Square, it never ceases to amaze. As you walk through the Iverski Gate you cannot help but be awestruck at the sight of Saint Basil’s Cathedral at the far end of the square and the sinister grandeur of the Kremlin to your right. I must say, I’ve always savoured the irony of the fact that, literally right opposite the tomb of Lenin is the most luxurious and expensive shopping mall you could possibly imagine. Poor old Vladimir must be spinning in his casket at the thought of such a temple to mammon right across the square.
Thirkell demonstrates the green cross code…….
In actual fact I have always wanted to go inside Lenin’s Mausoleum but somehow, every time I’m in Moscow, something scuppers it. It’s either shut or there’s a queue longer than a factory pay day. This time it was the former so I’m still no closer.
After a couple of circumgirations of the square, we organised a mortgage and had a quick coffee (hell, Moscow’s expensive) on the terrace of Lenin’s local shops and watched the world (literally) go by.
Then back to the hotel for the sound check that nearly never was and then, after a nice afternoon nap, off to the same restaurant as last night (by popular demand) for a pre-show dinner. By christ it’s tough, this touring lark.
I must say, it’s good to know that Russian TV shows are just as chaotic as British TV shows. All hurry up and wait. We were rushed on to the stage in a mad panic and then stood there waiting for a good half an hour – which was quite uncomfortable, eh Mick?
Waiting for the show to start. You should have gone when you had the chance, Mick!
We were opening the show with “All Around the World” and, to be honest, it was all over almost as soon as it had started. We gave it our all for 3 minutes 56 seconds and then made way for the awards.
Within 10 minutes we were back in the luxury people’s revolutionary minibus and heading back to the hotel for show number 2.
If I’m honest, it wasn’t the best show we’ve ever done. The room was a great big cavernous affair with a very high ceiling made of glass. Perfect acoustics for a string quartet.
For us, however, it was a nightmare. Like playing in a swimming baths. Everything sounded louder than everything else and the overall effect was akin to a fire in a pet shop! The less said, the better to be honest.
Thankfully they only required a 45 minute set so we rattled through the hits whilst a bunch of gay guys danced at the front, desperately trying not to look gay so as not to get beaten up by the KGB or the JCB or whoever it is these days.
Post show drinking was kept to a minimum as we have a 6.45 am lobby call tomorrow to fly to Istanbul.
It’s now 3.20am as I finish off this blog and I’m up in 3 hours so I’m looking forward to that!
Well that’s it. Our latest trip to Moscow. Hopefully we will be back here soon because, I’m not sure if I’ve said it but…..
…. I love Moscow!
Lisa irons Dave’s hair before the gig