Saint Petersburg, 2017.5.9-11

Like Moscow, taxi drivers are so desperate for business they stand in your way, persuading politely, until they get a firm rejection, and Vlad has pre-booked. The seatbelt is difficult, Martyn takes a few minutes with the drivers’ help. Passing the Gazprom building, waving thank you. Your gas keeps London homes warm. Too bad Greenpeace stopped you drilling in the Arctic. What’s next? Cold winter, part 2. The smell of Scandinavia in the air. I feel like we are driving in California with antique infrastructure, large truck parks, old-fashioned petrol pumps, rusty factories, ruined areas, large empty buildings for sale, so many dangling power lines overhead, and it’s all so spread out. The expansiveness does rival America. The radio is playing Strawberry Fields Forever, but it’s not the Beatles. The singer sounds like Lennon, and it turns into strange, cheesy elevator trip hop. Most of the familiar songs on this Saint Petersburg internet radio station are cover versions: Tom Petty sings “Keep it in a cool dry place”, about a visit to a music shop. I’ve heard most of his songs but never this one. There is a lot of 80s nostalgia and misogynist blues.

Victory Day parades in Saint Petersburg have finished. I’m a little relieved. But I can still watch it on television in the hotel. Putin strolls with thousands of comrades in Moscow holding a card picture of a soldier who was sacrificed for defeat of the Germans in world war 2, probably his relative, and many others do the same. An old man talks to him constantly like he is giving advice, and Putin nods humbly. 25 million Russians were sacrificed for that war, and the message remains that no country can defeat Russia. This is on every channel, including RT. The nostalgia programmes in black and white show women falling pathetically, hopelessly into the arms of a soldier who is leaving. The camera focuses on his eyes as he looks at her, stubborn, relaxed, non-plussed, large, confident, dominating man.


Дамы и господа, The Tiger Lillies

Sound check at Kosmonavt took an extra hour because of signalling problems, and sound quality issues (aesthetic maybe), but we got there in the end. I love the drums sound they got. The result was good in the end. Martyn was aware that he has to wake up very early, so we didn’t have a break in the middle, we played about 5 encores. When you’re thinking of an early morning, it affects the evening performance. This time I played an actual solo. Martyn has been changing the arrangement of Banging in the Nails, spicing it up.

Drum Workshop Collector’s Series (serial 583614), with DW TrueHoop. This is one my favourite snare drums, the juicy sound on the smallest touch. The shell is quite even and flat. It arrived late, had an old head/skin, quite worn. The supplier offered a new drum head but I declined. Instantly I loved the sound. It was already tuned low. I tightened the resonator a little bit at a time, and basically evened out the batter. It would take a long time to adjust a new head, and it has some good atrophy in it. It feels bouncy. The TrueHoop makes it stable, gives it the wonderful attack and dynamics.

Gretsch Renown Maple kick and floor tom

Can’t go wrong with Gretsch, the kick had a rock sound but lovely round tone, clear. The floor tom batter was tuned so low like sagging, good for rock. I like it somewhere between rock and jazz tuning.

…a little dog-barking from the audience “another glass of wine”…

Photo by Anton Korotkov
Mr. Adrian Stout

a little vodka backstage, and then some white wine, and then… Miller Genuine Draft?

…and then I went there, and then I did this, and then I did that…
Exploring and walking with gloves and hat, walking on Moscow avenue towards the centre. Outside Netto (Hetto), a rusty old loudspeaker speaks constantly like a news reporter. Drain pipes are very wide, uniform on almost every address. The blocks are all connected, all the way down, every street, with alleyways that lead to large courtyards, until the river.

Why do they put empty beer bottles in the bin with the cap on? Red star hats everywhere. Two poor or homeless people on the bench look sad with red star wooly hats. The river is brown and smells of sewage.

Pizza Ollis on Kazanskaya, small children dance to trashy pop music. The vegetable pizza has dill all over it, really Finnish taste, mmm. (Everyone knows you’re a foreign visitor, don’t try to hide it). Zatecky Gus: Cerny beer, dark.

Tiger Lillies at the trendy cocktail bar

The Hat jazz bar on ul. Belinskogo, off Liteyniy Avenue, near Fontanka River, is a simple cocktail bar that plays live traditional jazz every evening. Adrian and Martyn know the owner who reserved a table for us and was very welcoming. Adrian knows all the cocktails. We came before the music started and chatted with Vlad. He ordered an aviator, it is sour. The colour made the inventors think of the sky. I like nigroni, it contains Campari, Martini Rossi, Red Vermouth… It’s okay to feel out of place sometimes.

A man was staring at a woman, and then at me, and seemed angry, and apparently staring at Martyn, Martyna, Adrian. Then he smiled at me, as if I knew why. We didn’t think he was a fan, because he was too strange. I thought maybe he owns this place, or is some important gangster. While we were talking he came and slowly sat at our table, and we just continued. Martyn and Adrian are okay with people. The man was a bit shy, friendly without talking, and raised his glass, and we toasted. Then with a long look he offered me some of his drink. I don’t want to be spiked, thanks. Nice fans come and get autographs and photos with us, and go away again (I previously used sycophants thinking it meant fan, but it means groveler. I’m sorry to insult you, you brought us here!).
The band played exceptionally well, traditionally extending My Funny Valentine in a Latin groove, trading 4s… melody, solo, melody, solo, melody, solo… beyond safe. Lovely. This music used to be new, and now it is frozen, it’s STANDARD.

on a sunny day
brown and white pigeons
desperate actors in imperialist costume (€5 for a photo please?)

spraining ankle over large street kerbs
Rolls-Royce shop, diamond shop, Morskaya street is sad and dusty while workers work and work (Rolls Royce, Diamond shop…)
A.S. Popov Central Museum of Communications sounds really interesting… But they only accept cash, so I went for a walk.
good morning, blim (pancakes)

As I’m eating breakfast, I can see the bar where I had the last drink with Adrian and a friend and feel my headache. The fireplace flickers, and I get a taxi to the airport. I see a road sign for a KFC restaurant. Is it really that important?

Listening to travelling British pensioners talk about their culinary experiences, how great their holiday was, how adventurous they are, and I feel angry. A baby vocalises without thinking, and it gets me started, blah bbb blha blha, haaaaaaahhahahaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuaaaa., ppph!    rhrhrhhrhrhrhrhrrrrrr




  1. Batchelor says:

    I was at the Hat Jazz bar!


  2. Валентина says:

    “Nice sycophants come and get autographs and photos with us, and go away again” – I hope my translator did not translate correctly. Otherwise, this is an insult.


  3. Валентина says:

    Lizobdvo as a quality of the person – a tendency to petty, selfish motives, podhalimstvu.V bar “Hat” I wanted to express gratitude for your work. But in any case, you are an artist! Listen and go to your concerts like me. I agree with everything that you wrote about St. Petersburg (unfortunately, this is so). But 4 days I was delighted with the concert and now …. it’s awful …


  4. I apologise for calling you sycophant. I really thought it meant fan: Phant – fan.. But it is something more judgmental: groveller, doormat. I like bands too, you are right. I don’t think being a fan of a band makes you a sycophant, groveller, doormat. Forgive my poor translation of my own language?


  5. Валентина says:

    Oh, this translator!))) Many thanks for the concert !!! It was magical !!!


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