Friday, 23 December 2011

Inca Babies, vodka, Tomek and Warsaw

So to European bass playing duties, and three men arriving at Warsaw Chopin Airport with musical equipment and intent to give it some.

Here's Harry and Rob with the gear just collected from Outsize Baggage - I wonder if awesome and often prize-winning Large Vegetables need to go by this route en route to country shows? Perhaps taped together with gaffer tape?

We had such a good time in Warsaw the last time we were there - I was quite shocked to find that was two whole years ago - that spirits were high as we headed into town with our friend and gig promoter Tomek, a legendary figure in Death Rock circles across Europe. He's a man who also commands respect from us because he carries a considerable flick knife .. but he uses that to point to places on the map at various moments during our stays. So that's all right.

We toasted our good fortune at meeting again and our return to Warsaw with a little vodka snifter at the bar where we were playing.

We talked about stage times and equipment and how the soundcheck had gone, and then we had another quick one.

"How was Tomek keeping?" we wondered.  "Not bad," he said. "I'll tell you more later."

For those who don't know Warsaw there's a very wide and long main street with bars at various intervals which becomes an evening promenade for lovers, friends, city visitors. Two thirds of the way down there's a cut through to the Chopin Museum, which is where Frederyk spent some time as a young man before making his way to Paris where he made his name.

Like Vienna and Mozart actual downtime on these flagstones is quite limited but the museum is very tastefully done and there's a great research department... all that lay ahead, but on the Friday night we toasted the musicality of Chopin with a little salute in honey vodka, procured by Tomek from a liquor store a few minutes previously.

By now things were going really well and we were heading through parks and back streets seeing parts of Warsaw we'd never seen before. This honey vodka was quite something.. and very portable.

Obviously we discussed the people who would come to the gig and the set we would do, and how we might play a few songs from our latest album Death Message Blues that Tomek had pressed up on vinyl and we were here to promote.
Oh yes. It was shaping up into a champion evening.

But wait. We stopped for a pint outside one of Warsaw's oldest restaurants, parts of which dated back to the 14th Century.
Except it wasn't a pint of beer, it was a pint of honey mead. We'd decided against that on our previous visit, which had begun with an 0400 alarm call and a drive from Manchester down to Liverpool Ken Dodd International.  By the time we'd arrived in Warsaw we 'd been ready for a kip rather than a big session.

Not this time, we were having a great night out. Bring it on - delicious!

Perhaps Tomek might show us where we are on the map?  "No problem," he said, producing the huge flick knife and jabbing to our whereabouts on the map. Classy.  The waiter coming with the bill faltered... then headed over to another table.

Having been educated about the delights of 999 vodka on previous trips to Warsaw and Lithuania - also in the company of Tomek - we were enjoying the vodka libation enormously, as Harry was happy to note in the picture (left). We saw a few more sights then got our heads down in a flat kindly lent to us by one of Tomek's friends.

So a great night all round, spanning tourism, professional discussions about the gig the following night and catching up with old friends. Tomek did tell me what had been going on but to be honest it slips my mind now.

The gig was fabulous, the Warsaw crowd were excellent, the sound men and the people working on the concert were first class - we even had food laid on. And I tell you what: after a night on the honey vodka, that is very, very welcome.

Warsaw. What people, what a place. Great attitude. I can't wait for us to go there again.

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