Van der Graaf Generator at the B1 Club, Moscow, Russia
April 20th 2008
Photo: Alexey Kovalev
All that Before
Meuglys III, the Songwriter's Guild
Over the Hill
(We Are) Not Here
Photo: Mikayel Abazyan
Photos: Artem Zhitenev
Photos: Mikayel Abazyan
Mikayel with Carl Wilson
|Concert review by Keith Richards:
"Like interference patterns, completely un-related circumstances occasionally overlap. One such case led to me being in Moscow recently... for little more than a day. That day just happened to be April 20th 2008 when Van der Graaf Generator were in town for a concert at the B1 Club. It was with a certain sense of trepidation that I made my way on the Moscow Metro out to the venue. Maybe I'd got the date wrong? What if it was sold out? Cancelled? The omens were good as I'd spotted a few prominent VdGG posters at bus stops and cross-roads on my way into the city advertising this, and other, up and coming events: Gary Moore, Mark Knopfler, Queen, Sex Pistols... even the Backstreet Boys and Pussycat Dolls!
"No, not sold out. I could get a standing ticket for 1200 Roubles (about £25). Or there were still a few VIP tickets left, starting at 10,000 Roubles. Hang on, did you say Ten Thousand Roubles?? I didn't have anything near that amount of cash... about £220. OK, they had food and drink thrown in too, but it still seemed a bit on the steep side to me.
"The B1 is quite a sizeable place. Standing room for about 3000 apparently, with the VIPs perched somewhere up on the balcony. A pretty decent sound system, good lighting and (not least) two huge mirror balls! Just before 8.30pm, Guy, Hugh and Peter were on stage, to rapturous applause. It took Hugh and Peter a few moments to get fully in time with Interference Patterns, but they got there and we were up and running. Scorched Earth was applauded like a long lost favourite, as was Lemmings. Peter then tried to re-tune, whilst fending off shouts, all incomprehensible, for this or that. I felt that Lifetime got a bit lost in the ether, whereas All That Before got us back on track. The rest was fairly plain sailing... Meurglys III even got a clap-along treatment (a first for me at a VdGG show!) and the "ending" is cheered prematurely at least three times. Still, it went down a storm as did Sleepwalkers. Over The Hill and We Are Not Here finished up the tail end of the set before Man Erg played it out in a blaze of flashing white light. All in all, a good showing in what must have been pretty close (if there is such a thing) to the edge of the VdGG comfort zone (that in itself being a somewhat daunting prospect).
"The band left the stage to a great ovation, Guy pausing to receive a white rose from a fan in the front row. A minute or two later and they were back for a full-on version of Still Life. I think I caught Hugh with a wry smile as Peter was drowned in applause, and waited before he could deliver the final three words... "in still life". The audience were still on for more, but I knew it was game-over and made my way out, pausing to ask for a setlist from the sound desk. In the foyer, the merchandising was doing a brisk trade in T-shirts and CD's. Trisector was on sale for (I think) 300 Roubles (£8), whereas others seemed to be more; the Japanese version of Vital, and also The Quiet Zone, perhaps others too. As I looked at the faces around me, it truly was a mixture of older and younger. The older ones, many clad in T-shirts from the last VdGG tour to visit Russia two or more years ago, were probably old enough to remember the times when just owning a copy of Pawn Hearts would have been considered seriously subversive. Of the younger ones, some seem to be in a daze, not quite sure as to what they had just witnessed (I remember the feeling well from my first VdGG show back in 1976).
I headed outside into the pouring rain and down into the evocatively named Leninskiy Prospekt Metro station and onwards. Wondering if it's all been true."
Artefacts: Keith Richards