Our trip to St.Petersburg to see Alphaville, April 25-27, 2003 (written by Olga Sudakova)

Back in 2002 there were only a few people in Moscow interested in Alphaville, but the release of the new album, CRAZY SHOW, forced people to come out of the underground and join our fanclub. We had a Crazy Party on April 5th, 2003, about 10 people showed up. Right before this event there was an official announcement on about Alphaville's plans to play in St.Petersburg later in April and also in Kiev in May. We agreed that it's our must to visit St.Petersburg for the sake of seeing Alphaville performing. Easily said - easily done: the next day we went to the railway station and bought tickets :)

Two and a half weeks of anticipation - and finally the day of our departure came. There were totally nine people departing from Moscow - 4 girls (Lena, Sveta, Galya and me), 5 boys (Oleg, Slava 1, Slava 2, Valera, Misha). Galya was a friend of Sveta and wasn't really interested in Alphaville, but she still joined us in this trip :) Eight hours on the train allowed us to chat and to have a short sleep, we arrived to St.Petersburg safe and sound on Friday, April 25, and went straight to a cheap hotel not very far from the centre of the city which was booked for us in advance. The weather on preceding days was rather warm, but it turned very cold all of a sudden - thanks God, we were prepared for it. It was freezy and sunny outside, we put on lots of clothes and left the hotel heading for the Ice Palace where the concert was supposed to take place.

Before we bought tickets for the show, there were two more people who joined us. One of them was a very good friend of mine Ilona who lives both in Kiev and St.Petersburg and who shares my adoration for George Michael - we've known each other for about 4 years and every time I was in St.Petersburg, Ilona was my best friend there. Another one was Ivan whom I met in Riga in October 2002 when I went there alone to see Alphaville. Ivan came one day earlier and visited the press conference held in the Liverpool bar/nightclub, Marian Gold was there answering the questions of journalists, and Ivan managed to make a contact with a representative of the promoter, a company with a weird name Hobbott. We used this contact for the sake of getting backstage before the concert and it worked fine. Only three people were allowed to sneak backstage (the whole group of our people would have caused a lot of mess!), and I happened to be among them (thanks to Claudia and Daniela!). I had lost a considerable (for me) amount of money 10 minutes after our arrival to St.Petersburg (they were stolen from my pocket inside metro), the day started horribly, but I was totally rewarded for my loss by the events that happened in the afternoon - and later in the night.

The first people I saw backstage were Martin Lister (the keyboard player) and Daniela Titze, the new tour manager of Alphaville. As we proceeded to the stage itself, we saw the rest of Alphaville: Pierson Grange (the drumer), Rainer (the monitoring engineer), Michael (the sound engineer - I didn't recognize him immediately because back in 2000 he died his hair blonde), Dave Goodes (the guitarist - I never saw him before), Dieter from the ASS Concerts agency and Ralf, the lighting engineer (saw them in Riga) and of course the biggest star in the world who made our hearts beat even faster, Marian Gold :) Everyone looked really tired as if they had a sleepless night, but still they were extremely friendly and warm with us. They seemed to be really happy to see us, almost as happy as we were! Even though there were big problems with the equipment, it wasn't grounded properly and was giving electrical shocks while being in touch with the skin. It could mean a total failure for the whole concert, but eventually this problem was solved. Martin was unrecognizably angry because of it, he only allowed himself to relax after the concert.

Alphaville was backstage with us for several hours, musicians only left for about one hour to the hotel and back to change clothes, others were there with us all the time, much to our endless pleasure. I never felt so honoured before!!! I really loved talking to Daniela, she proved to be very sweet and intelligent, as well as beautiful and graceful in all her movements. That was a case of the rare combination of beauty inside and outside! I also loved talking to Dietrich, a lovely middle-aged German gentleman with a smart sense of humour and a piercing smile - he enjoys travelling with the bands whose concert his company organizes. Of course, I also loved the company of tall Rainer and short Ralf, tho incredibly down-to-earth, shy, but still very interesting people making funniest jokes here and there with us trying to kill time before the concert :) There were sevral new people who came together with Alphaville, all seemingly Germans: a tall guy Christian, another guy in glasses, one more guy who tried hard to speak Russian which he probably studied when he was young - we didn't have enough courage to clarify their names and positions properly.... And we also met a very nice person with a professional photocamera who proved to be.... Daniela's husband and a long time friend of Marian!!!! Unfortunately, we didn't have much of a chance to talk to the musicians - Martin, Pierson and Dave, they were too busy working onstage. Dave, a shy English guy with funny blonde hair and a strange glance, proved to be one of the first guitar players who performed together with Alphaville in their earliest live shows, back then he had long hair and seemed to be skinny, so it took me a while before I realized it.

But the biggest surprise was the amount of time Marian spared to us backstage! He was answering our questions, sharing his impressions about St.Petersburg, joking and laughing - and it felt like a meeting of good old friends who have so much to talk about..... He spoke to us in front of the stage as musicians and technicians were solving the electricity shocks problem, and even tried to get the rest of our friends backstage - but it didn't work. Finally we made an agreement to arrange a small after party in the night club Liverpool, which was located right in the center of the city and where Marian had a press conference the day before.

We also witnessed the soundcheck session during which five full songs were played - Dance With Me (instrumental), Elevator, Fools, Ways, Miracle Healing  and On The Beach. Marian was slowly walking around the stage and not just standing in front of the microphone (like he does now on the concerts), serious and concentrated, skipping some lyrics, but still giving a very powerful performance with all his heart. He was much more relaxed than during the concert, I liked this kind of atmosphere. While performing Ways, he was reading the lyrics off the paper, and during the long instrumental part of On The Beach he suddensly disappeared from the stage - and a few minutes later I turned around to find him behind me, in the audience place, where he sang the rest of the song - the most emotional part of it. Russian technicians of the Ice Palace who also happened to be there looked at the soundcheck with astonishment :) It was probably the first time they ever heard Alphaville, and it seemed it was a pleasant discovery for them :)

The concert was supposed to start at 7 p.m., but it was one hour delayed because of the late the soundcheck. The Russian band Smyslovye Gallutsinatsii started playing at around 8 and their concert lasted for about an hour. I don't really like them, so we stayed in the dressing room chatting with technicians and waiting for Alphaville to return after they change clothes. There was a break between two groups, most of the people left the arena, and when we decided to join the other people from our group (who of course occupied the best space right in front of the microphone), it wasn't a difficult task to break through the crowd because the crowd was gone :) Nevertheless, people started returning and very soon I found that the whole area was crowded again.

The concert started with "Elevator".... Just like almost 4 years ago, back in 1999, when Alphaville first came to St.Petersburg - and it was their second visit to Russia. I was happy that they returned "Elevator" to the songlist, just like I was happy to hear the different version of "Fools" which they haven't played since the "Peace On Earth" tour. I already knew from the previous concert in Belgium that Marian changed the "Keep on dancing" line in the chorus to "Keep on fighting" (in reference with the Iraq situation). They also added the second "just a lie" (about democracy) in the second verse. When "Guardian Angel" started - I stood almost in the first row, just in front of Marian - people around me went absolutely mad, they were pushing and screaming the lyrics, and I started anticipating new unknown songs with an evil smile because hardly anyone (except us) had a change to listen to them before. But new songs started only after "Dance With Me" and "Big In Japan" were performed. In the very beginning of "Big In Japan" Marian asked: "Does anybody know this song?",

"Hey hey, I need a rest! This one's for you..." - Marian said in the beginning of "Carry Your Flag" (the Crazy Show version), and then "Ways" followed. Both songs made the audience totally numb. The new stuff felt totally different from the widely known hits, people were taken aback and didn't know whether they liked this new 'ballad' style of Alphaville. I bet that most of them sincerely thought that Alphaville didn't have new albums since the Dance With Me era! Marian performed "Ways" gracefully and with a lot of power, even though he had difficulties remembering the lyrics. We noticed that he was reading them from sheets of paper that were lying in front of him hidden from the audience. He was going down to his knee a few times to change the sheets (later we managed to get these sheets!), but it was understandable because this song's lyrics are quite difficult to remember. I really loved the light show all through the concert, especially the snowflakes on this particular song, never saw anything more spectacular on pop concerts.

Alphaville inserted another big hit, "Sounds Like A Melody", between the first and the second section of new songs, and it was performed in a version quite close to the album version, nothing special. The next song was "Those Wonderful Things", Marian started singing too early, but realized his mistake right away and corrected it. He also needed to look at the lyrics both here and in the following "Miracle Healing", however he knew the lyrics of "First Monday In The Y3K" perfectly well. His voice was really emotional, and there were times when it felt like he was crying.

When it was over, we heard the familiar sounds of "Victory Of Love", the Forever Pop version (starting with "Back To The Future"), and I already knew from the concert in Riga and Dudelange that it was bridged with "Wishful Thinking" - two well known and powerful hits that were followed by the last new song, "On The Beach". Marian left the stage to have a short break, while the musicians stayed there playing the mysterious intro. He returned looking fresh, with wet hair, and sang the song just perfectly well.

The whole band left the stage after "On The Beach", but returned soon for the 3 songs of encore, "Jerusalem", "Monkey In The Moon" and "Forever Young". I always like it that they always perform "Monkey", one of my all time faves, and this time's version wasn't disappointing either. During "Forever Young" Marian, as always, allowed the audience to sing the chorus, and it was a decent end of the show, even though I already got used to "Forever Young" being the last song.

We returned backstage and immediately saw Marian, all wet, with a small bottle of beer. He looked extremely delighted, and I complimented him as passionately as I only couldl - it was the best Alphaville concert I've seen so far. Marian left for his private dressing room, and as we were walking the corridor thinking about leaving the backstage and joining our friends, we saw a weird man. He was trying to get to Marian's dressing room repeating: "I invested such a huge amount of money into this concert of Alphaville, I MUST have them for a personal talk!". We rushed away being slightly scared, so frightening he looked. I suppose he finally got what he wanted because Marian appeared in Liverpool later than we supposed.

Honestly, we really really wanted to see Marian after the concert in Liverpool as we agreed, but we were too much afraid that he would be too tired and wouldn't show up... We were totally exhausted, both mentally and physically, so it took us a while to get to Liverpool, we arrived there at around 0.30 a.m. only. Just as we sat around 3 tables (having joined them together), there was another person who joined us - Nika. She lived in St.Petersburg and shortly before the concert got in touch with me by email. We were quite an impressive crowd of fans consisting of probably 14 people. Right after we sat down and started thinking about what to order, the door opened - and we saw Marian accompanied by Daniela who kept his word and arrived to Liverpool only for the sake of meeting us, fans!!!

Marian sat together with us and was answering our questions for about 2 hours, even though he was tempted to leave sooner - Daniela looked really tired, but she was still kind enough not to interrupt us. Nika gave him a very nice gift, 3 Easter eggs that she painted herself, unique masterpieces that Marian seemed to have enjoyed a lot - he told me that earlier this morning he had walked to the Hermitage and bought an egg. We drowned into the conversation immediately forgetting about tiredness. The Liverpool atmosphere of The Beatles and other bands of the past, with pics of stars who visited this place and the live music played in a neighbour room, made the whole event even more pleasant for us.

Marian answered so many questions that eventually we ran out of them :) We gathered at the entrance of the club for the final picture with him - and he left, while other people from Alphaville - Martin, Pierson, Dave, Ralf - have just arrived (probably after they disassembled the stage equipment). We stayed in the club until around 4 a.m. and then the ones who stayed in the hotel left, while Ilona, Ivan, Nika and Lena stayed until the very morning with the musicians (and didn't sleep at all at night).

The next two days weren't that much exciting, but we loved walking in the city. We took a boat trip along the narrow channels and the Neva river, walked along the Nevsky avenue, went to the Winter Palace (where Hermitage is), to the museum of waxworks and enjoyed quite a few cheap eating places. We made hundreds of pictures and shared them right after our return from St.Petersburg (that's how this website appeared). It was a trip full of impressions that we'll never forget. And even though not all the people who were with us on that day were able to make the second trip (to Kiev), we had a really good time together and made very good friends. We love you, Alphaville!!! 



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