THE RUSSIAN ADVENTURES

The vicious climate of these northern parts is especially attractive for the dwellers of the south spoiled by the warmth of the sunrays. And it's not because their homeland lacks the crusty white of the snow that they love so much. Nor is it because they had been longing for a shot of real vodka with traditional Russian pickled cucumber. Nor even because of the fame of the beautiful girls that with the fall of the iron curtain has become common knowledge all over the world. No. They are brought by the search for the mysterious Russian soul, wide as the sea, unpredictable as the hurricane and beckoning as the cosmic fields. They want to see it with their own eyes, feel it with their very hearts. The endless quest for this strange treasure brought Moonspell here too and it is their adventures in Russia that will become the subject of this story

In the morning of January 24, 2002 the group consisting of 5 musicians (Fernando - vox, Ricardo - guitar, Pedro - guitar and keyboards, Sergio - bass, and Mike - drums), 4 technicians (Adriano - stage guy and guitars, Manuel - light director, Miguel - sound director, and Paulino - drum-tech) and two reporters from the Rock Sound magazine - Daniel (also the head of the Raging Planet promo-agency) and the photo-wizard Xavier landed in Moscow's Sheremetievo airport. The flight was a bit too exhaustive, since, as the guys told us themselves on their way the plane had been falling into all of them air-pits ending up shaking like Jerry Lee Lewis himself had never dreamt of. This however did not affect the high spirits of the group and throwing their stuff in the hotel the boys rushed off for a sight-seeing tour. This one traditionally started at the Red Square

 

Moonspell at the Red Square, Moscow

 

The tour lasted till the very end of the day and it was only the impending dusk and the merciless sensation of hunger that could force Moonspell away from the wondrous scapes of the city at night. Supper was due at a small place called Woodstock, where the bunch unanimously decided to try something very Russian, but still not too extravagant, we were told. The besought dish was found in the so-called meat-pot (pork with potatoes, vegetables, mushrooms and other stuffs cooked and served in a small clay-pot), which was devoured with great appetite and a lubrication of vodka. The belly-god that Mike is, he was the only one who tried to transfer the contents of the pot onto his plate with a fork thinking that the former served only the purpose of decoration. The attempted desecration of the Russian national cuisine was stopped at its very roots, and Mike was supplied with a huge spoon, which he'd been told, was to be used to excavate the food directly from the pot. Turned out you could eat from the pot after all. ;)

As the feast of the metal Olympus dwellers proceeded, rejoicing ensued building up the ancient spirit of competition. A mini-tournament in arm-wrestling was held. The 'Russian Bears' team was represented solely by our review-writer Troll, while the roster of 'Portuguese Stargazers' numbered 5 members: Mike, Ricardo, Fernando, Xavier and Adriano. 'When the going gets tough the tough says fuck this for a lark' we told ourselves, however, deep in our hearts we bid a virtual farewell to Troll and wiped a tear from our eyes at the sight of the mighty biceps of Mike Gaspar. The result of the tournament came as a surprise to everyone, when the 'Russian Bears' gripped a 4-1 victory. Troll started in round one by defeating Mike Gaspar (something neither Mike nor he expected), finished Fernando, and broke through the defense of Ricardo and Xavier. The Clash of the Titans with Adriano lasted for several minutes, and even despite the cheering from our side of the camp, resulted in the final defeat of the 'Russian Bears'. However, here the opposing team agreed the victory was not that flawless, since after all it only was one little troll against five humans. Hurra!

Fernando tried to compensate for the bitter taste of defeat by arranging for a small jam-session in the club, but here too a disappointment was awaiting him. A no-name band, the title of which I cannot remember even by peering into the darkest corners of my memory, that was playing in "Woodstock" that night refused to lend their instruments to Moonspell, saying that the guys might spoil their instruments and that moreover, in exchange for the jam on the 24th they wanted to support the band the next day in the venue. Such ignorance and arrogance proved a little bit excessive even for my mysterious Russian soul, let alone all the Portuguese ones. The evening was finished off with a dessert which helped to brighten up everyone's sprit before a hard-day's work for the next day

Moonspell, club "Woodstock"

Daniel and Mike
Fernando
Mike
Fernando
Ricardo
Ricardo sends a kiss to all Russian girls
Adriano
driano, Felix Da Katt, Ricardo
driano and Ricardo

 

At midday, the next day, January 25th, which is the student day in Russia, the musicians were already at the local biggest CD-market for the autograph session. Having had a good-night's sleep, they readily signed CDs, posters, passports, a copy of 'Lords of Chaos' and even a bible. The interaction with the fans was not long but intensive. The most popular question of the day concerned Fernando's book of poems, that had been recently published in Portugal, but had not yet been translated into Russian. The singer informed the public that the first print of the book has already been sold out and that right at the moment a reissue was in preparation that would also accommodate an English translation. And well most naturally, he would have been happy if there was someone who would be eager to translate the thing into Russian. After the signing session the group proceeded to the soundcheck.

Most naturally the first thing to get unpacked were the band's trademark cloaks that have already become their signature-gimmick.

Fernando's cloak

Then followed a good three hours of hard and tiresome tunings and checks, but as it would turn out later, it was worth the trouble, for in the evening the hall was put in awe by the incredible sound and show.

Moonspell at the souncheck

Ricardo
Sergio
Fernando
Ricardo
Mike
Pedro
Mike

 

The press-conference for the local metal reporters was held just before the gig right there in the hall. The soldiers of the metal press front literally riddled Moonspell with questions: "What should we expect from the gig because the band's official site promised a special show for Russia?", "Are you going to print your book in Russia?", "What are your impressions of the past two days?", "What tats do you sport and what do they mean?", "What's your fave soccer club?", "Why Moonspell stopped using stage-names?" and many more. The results of the conversation that took over 40 minutes seemed pleasing to both the band and the journalists.

Moonspell at the press conference

 

Due to the delay with the press conference, doors opened half an hour late, and a crowd of raging fans blasted into the hall. After another ten minutes of nervous waiting, drinking and smoking and the recurring 'Moonspell' chants - lights went out and the heroes of the day hit the stage. Fernando was the last to appear garmented in a black robe and a lantern in his hand. The night's opener "Than the Serpents in My Arms" was followed by the bombastic "Devilred", after which came a salvo of the band's most famous hits: "Opium", "Wolfshade", "Herr Speigelmann" (during which Fernando took two mirrors in each of his hands and played with patches of light all over the hall). The audience was mesmerized. The show indeed has been wonderful. Lights, sound costumes, stage behavior was all beyond praise.


25.02. 2002 - Moonspell, DK Gorbushka

"Devilred"
"Herr Speigelmann"

 

Right after the show the musicians rushed to pack their gear for the train to St. Pete was leaving in an hour. However even that did not prevent them from communicating with their fans and giving yet another portion of autographs at the exit from the venue. Several minutes of wait at the platform and the Nikolayevsky express was carrying us to the country's so-called Northern Capital. It is worth pointing out that the city lived up to its nick-name, for while in Moscow the temperature had been about zero degrees Celsius, when we arrived to St. Pete it dropped to -15C and remained there for the rest of our stay. Needless to say that even after five minutes of staying out in that cold various body parts started feeling very uncomfortable. The most picturesque sight against the background of the snow-blowing city was Adriano wearing shorts. Apparently the poor sod did not have the time to change into something more suitable and thus tried to make himself at least a tiny bit warmer by intensive carrying of cases, guitars and boxes. That was not it however. Half an hour before our arrival the speakers in our car blasted with the soothing voice of Nikolai Baskov (an extremely popular Russian pop-opera singer) with his cover of a traditional Russian chanson. Apparently the train authorities thought this was supposed to cheer everyone up and provide for a comfortable shift from the sleeping mode. Well, right. If the locals are at least used to the whaling of this pink-faced minstrel and can live with it, for our Moonspell friends this musical exorcise turned out to be too much. The hate for Baskov penetrated right through their souls and, when we were already driving thru the city, they stared at the posters with his smiling mug in genuine anger. Well, it seems that the combined thrills of Baskov's sweet-sounding moans and the chill outside came as such a distress, that well, let's leave the "that" for now for it would come a surprise for all of us later in the day. Meanwhile we climbed into the bus and headed off to the hotel.

Several hours of sleep and a filling breakfast had a refreshing effect and the worshippers of lunar light were ready for another battle. Well, another soundcheck to be precise. The local tech-crew was busy arranging the wires and consoles inside the hall, racks were put in place and hooked up to the sound panel. Everything was going more or less fine, when at the very last moment, when the band was just about to turn on the amps everyone started in horror. "Has anyone seen this small silver case we had?" - "What's in it?" - 'Well, our personal ear monitors, and guitar processors" - "Where did you see it last time?" - "Errr we don't remember really!!!" Things were starting to go out of hand, well of course no one was going to cancel the show, and the band tried to look cheerful and claimed they were going to play the gig even without the monitors, but their spirits visibly declined. And then it was the time for the local promoter to show his best. Bus drivers both in St. Pete and Moscow were contacted, but the unfortunate case was not there, we talked to the security in the hotel lobby, the Moscow venue and even the Moscow equipment supplier - but all to no avail. Finally we were left with two options: either the precious load was left on the train or but we did not even dare to think of the "or" Well, the St. Pete co-promoter rushed off to the train station and the long hours of wait began. Fans were already starting to arrive but there still wasn't any news of the fate of the case. The clock struck to 7 but the show did not start. Everyone was still hoping that a miracle would happen. And it did! The case was found on the train. We cannot describe all the pain our guy had to go through to find the train, car #13, that we traveled in, and then the case itself. But all is well, that ends well. Moonspell was so happy to get their property back that they literally tore the place apart at the show and managed to top the impressions of the Moscow gig. The set-list was a bit shorter than in Moscow, but here 'Mephisto' was added to it - a sure treat for all of the true Moonspell fans. As to the sound it came out so well, that Miguel nearly burst with pride saying that he never knew he was so damn good.

Tired but happy, the guys still managed to find the strength to talk to their St. Pete fans and then spent half of the night playing pool and relaxing in the bar. In the morning the city opened its icy gates for another sight-seeing tour - The Palace Square, Isakiev Cathedral, Petropavlovsk Fortress. Despite the lack of sleep and general exhaustion the gang marched along the beauties of the Peter the Great epoch, as if a second breath had opened somewhere inside of them. Here we have to specifically note the heroism of poor Mike whose leather pants got accidentally torn already back in Moscow. The irony of it all was that these pants were the only item of trouser-type garments Gaspar had with him. Well, up until the end of the St. Pete gig everything was fine, because the drummer just put some tape around his leg and never winced an eye. But, oops, after the thrashing and maiming at the concert the old tape was naturally killed, and there was no chance to get a new piece because Adriano (happy as a lark because of the found case) was spending the rest of his tape like there was no tomorrow and forgot all about his friend. Well, to put it all short Mike had to walk around with a huge hall in his trousers exposing himself to the spearing gusts of wind. He took it like a man however and even tried to make jokes about the thing.

During the city-tour the guys were mostly impressed by the fact that apparently at a certain point of time the St. Petersburg architects had some sort of a competition of who would manage to make a monument with a minimum number of supports: Peter the Great on horseback (three supports), Nikolai I on horseback (two supports) and finally the Alexandria Column - which stands with no supports at all and is only held in place by its own weight.

At the Palace Square the boys bought themselves the traditional military souvenirs in the form of black fur military hats, and even here Fernando tried to be different from everyone else and, as he put it, upgraded the thing on his way to Moscow by replacing the old red Soviet star with the two-headed eagle.

 

The Palace Square
ike and Fernando

 

Dinner was served at the Liverpool club, where the feast started with Beatles, but the legendary four did not go well with the mushroom soup, and it was decided to replace them with Moonspell. However already 10 minutes later it became clear that only Moonspell can be worse than Beatles, and the music was simply shut out altogether.

Moonspell, club "Liverpool"

Sergio
Mike
Fernando and Daniel
Ricardo

 

We had still some time left before our departure back to Moscow and the band could not refuse the temptation to drop by the town's most famous rock-shop - 'Castle Rock'. There the guys have spent some time familiarizing themselves with the local metal press, CD, Ts and other goodies. The shop turned out to be a true blessing for Mike for we finally managed to get some tape for him from the local warehouse.

Moonspell, rock-shop "Caslte Rock"

Ricardo
Sergio
Fernando
Sergio

 

The train raced the travelers back to Moscow. The Russian adventures of Moonspell were over. The final link in the chain of Russian exotics that our Portuguese guests had experienced in the past few days was the supper at the 'Elki-Palki' Restaurant. The gang rushed in through the doors 10 minutes before the closing time and demanded something to eat, preferably, in unlimited amounts. At that everyone was proposed to play the traditional Russian game of 'Telega' (rus. n. - cart) also known as "who will shark more in one go". (For those who do not know: Telega is a sort of a cold table with all kinds of traditional Russian appetizers, salads, and suchlike - potatoes, herrings, crout, beet-root, carrot salads, pickled mushrooms, ramson, etc. - the participants of the game are each given a plate and one try at the Telega, in which they have to get as much in one plate as they can.) The Portuguese Telega tournament was by margin won by Mike, who managed to pile so much stuff up on his plate that even the restaurant's personnel could not understand how he did it. Fernando on the other hand never made it to the finish line, for he managed to arrange the food in such an order that it was next to impossible to eat it. The most popular drink of the day was the cranberry syrup, which was so good, that everyone even forgot about beer and only asked for more of this "red sour stuff"

The next day the plane took them back to the country of port and sunshine. With them Moonspell took the unbelievable impressions, a load of souvenirs, and the hope to return to this mysterious country where both the fans and the women are hot even in the middle of the winter. Well, Moonspell, see you then

MetalKings.com would like to express their sincerest gratitude to GOST music and Adam Belyaev for the accreditation provided.

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