Moscow, February 6, 2002
The Offspring show in Moscow is a special event, not only because they came here to play one gig only, but also because they are currently working on a new album and arrived on a special invitation from the Triumf foundation. There was no need to worry about the attendance, as tickets to the floor were practically unavailable, they were sold out within days. High prices were an unpleasant surprise, but the band is in its peak, so this is quite understandable.
The news conference held on the eve of the gig was really very interesting, mostly because such events usually give a comprehensive impression of the artists' personality. And the Offspring guys surprised us a lot by being really open, polite and down-to-earth. They had the pleasure in answering even the most trivial questions. Apparently most of the reporters wouldn't even look at the track lists of the band's latest albums, let alone check out the official web-page before going to the news conference. How do you like, for instance, such a question: "How would the band have developed if the song "Give It To Me Baby" hadn't been released?" It took Dexter half a minute to come to senses, after which he explained the reporter that Offspring actually had a few successful records before "Americana". Nevertheless, there were some very interesting questions dealing with the band's future plans, latest albums and, of course, connections between punk and degrees in sciences (Dexter has a doctor's degree in biology). Despite time limitations and abundance of reporters and photographers MetalKings.com managed to ask the band a few questions.
First, we asked about Nitro Records, the label owned by Dexter Holland. The singer was obviously pleased, saying that the label has sold 150,000 copies of the latest AFI album and that five more contracts had been signed this year.
Another thing that interested us was the lyrics to "Gone Away" and "End Of The Line" that deal with the loss and grief. We asked whether the songs were based on personal experience, and the reply was in the affirmative as everyone in the band had lost somebody close. The next question was addressed to guitarist Noodles, and we wanted to know the origin of his nickname. The guitarist livened up and recalled the time of rehearsals for the first album when he would practice a lot and make noises like "noodle-noodle-noodle" on his guitar. That's where the name originated from, he said.
We couldn't but ask about the news that we had read on the band's official page. The latest update said that Offspring was going to take part in a concert supporting the Recording Artists Coalition. According to Dexter, U.S. laws are not fair on musicians, and therefore several bands decided to get together to attract attention of other musicians to that problem. There are still a lot of gaps in the legislation concerning the show business, he stressed.
The news conference was followed by an impromptu signing session that lasted until the security guys started asking the reporters to leave the room. Having our discs signed, we asked Noodles how long the band was planning to go on. The question was not planned in advance, but we couldn't help asking it seeing these experienced middle-aged men with graying hair in front of us. The guitarist replied in one short word, "Forever!"
OK, now let's move on to the show. Naive, one of Russia's best punk bands, were opening, and they are said to have been chosen by Offspring themselves. We were pleasantly surprised by the band's set list that consisted mostly of Naive's best songs, and older tracks from the "Beer For Naive!" and "Post-Alcoholic Anxieties" albums sounded no less attractive than the latest hits such as "Rock" and "Superstar". The sound quality was very good, which contributed a lot to the drive produced by the band. After 30 minutes on stage, Chacha & Co said goodbye, and the crowd started going out for beer. While waiting in lines outside the hall, the people were speculating on the desired set-list, thinking whether anything from Offspring's early records would be performed. Another 40 minutes passed like that, and finally the lights went out and familiar bass chords (intro to "Bad Habit") broke out of the speakers. One by one the members of Offspring appeared on the stage, but it took us some time and efforts to see them more or less clearly, for the crowd went so crazy at once that we had to struggle real hard to stand on our feet.
The audience really gave Offspring a warm welcome, but when the second track "All I Want" started, it was clear that something was going wrong. Actually, there was no sound at all, there was just a miserable mess of guitars and drums. The bass was out altogether, while the vocals was so low and unfamiliar that we got an impression of being at a rally where the speaker was utilizing a dysfunctional megaphone. It was hard to recognize a song even for dedicated Offspring fans knowing all the band's albums by heart. The situation started to change on "Million Miles Away", the bass appeared in the mix and the voice was starting to be heard, but it did not last long. When the band was in the middle of the coda to "Have You Ever" ("when the truth walks away…") something extraordinary happened - the sound and the stage lights went out altogether. Technicians rushed to the stage in panic, but there was nothing they could do. Acoustic guitars and chairs were brought out, and Dexter and Noodles had to save the show by doing an unplugged version of "Dirty Magic" (off the "Ignition" album, 1992). Thus, everyone in the audience can pride himself/herself on attending a really unique event for we have grounds to doubt that Offspring are doing unplugged performances often. The two musicians seemed at a loss themselves and first teased the crowd with intros to "Smoke On The Water" and "Stairway To Heaven" before diving head-on into "Dirty Magic", which, by the way, was preceded by a spoken intro that goes like "Feel free to download this song from Napster or Audiogalaxy…" By the time the song was done, the technical breakdown was corrected, and the show went on with blockbusters such as "Gotta Get Away" and "Staring At The Sun". Dexter forgot a part of the lyrics to "Staring…", but that's a live show, anybody can make mistakes. What's surprising, the sound got much better, and the band looked more lively, apparently realizing that it was no ordinary show.
After "Original Prankster" an air chair was brought on the stage and the singer sat down in it to the recording of "Intermission" blasting from the speakers. Meanwhile, a man wearing a Ukrainian national dress appeared at the microphone and started waving his hands suggesting that the audience followed his movements. At the same time, Offspring's backing vocalist who spent most of the show in a remote corner of the stage rushed forward and started throwing crackers in the audience. "Why Don't You Get A Job?" followed, and everybody in the hall was singing along as soap bubbles were falling on the front rows somewhere from the ceiling. Unfortunately, a few songs later the sound deteriorated again, it did not become as bad as in the beginning, but this attempt to rival notorious Helloween and U.D.O. performances at Moscow's TsSKA sports palace was nearly successful. This circumstance couldn't but affect the audience's reaction to the show. The crowd that mostly consisted of teenagers who knew the band from videos aired on TV, was one of the wildest we'd ever seen in the beginning, but got really tired towards the end of the gig. And when they finally heard "Pretty Fly", they got what they wanted and were not at all eager to call the band back for the encore. Offspring returned anyway and played two new songs off "Conspiracy Of One" and one of their greatest classics "Self Esteem" that rounded up the 22-song gig with a blast.
What can we say in the end? We wouldn't like this report to be like in a popular Moscow newspaper where it's not really clear whether the reporter really enjoyed what he's writing about or not. We all loved the Offspring show, which just cannot be different with such a huge number of fantastic songs performed. But we still have the feeling that something was wrong, that the opener actually had the better sound than the headliner, and we have no idea why. (Unfortunately, such cases are frequent over here- ed.) Thus, an impression is somewhat spoiled. A question with no answer: when the hell Moscow will get some good concert halls or at least some competent sound engineers?
(Felix Da Katt/Lynx/Roman The Maniac) Translated into English by Maniac
1. Bad Habit
2. All I Want
3. Come Out And Play
4. Million Miles Away
5. Defy You
6. Have You Ever
7. Dirty Magic (acoustic)
9. Gotta Get Away
10. Staring At The Sun
11. Gone Away
13. Original Prankster
15. Why Don't You Get A Job
16. Want You Bad
18. The Kids Aren't Alright
19. Pretty Fly
20. Special Delivery
21. One Fine Day
22. Self Esteem.
Special thanks to Margarita Nekrasova of SAV Entertainment for the accreditation