music


OK so it happened. I’m pretty much puzzled what to think about this concert. You don’t have to be Madonna’s fan to know this is something you shouldn’t miss. Beside I liked her in my youth very much actually. I remember her concerts at the beginning of 1990-es  (“Blond Ambition World Tour” and “The Girlie Show World Tour”) and thinking if I’ll ever see something like this … oh well I didn’t.

I was hoping to go on her concert last year when she was in Montenegro because no one believed she’ll come back in the region. Well she did but it seems that vast majority of people from Serbia who were at the concert in Montenegro decided to stay home last night. Namely there were only 40000 people which is of course far less than what was expected. On the other hand, reviews from that last year’s concert weren’t bright whatsoever. Anyway I didn’t manage to be in Montenegro and when I heard she’s coming in Belgrade I knew it’s now or never (luckily my brother thought the same and gave me this for birthday). As I said that’s something you just don’t miss no mater if you’re not her fan. There are only few artists who are living legends who fits in this category (sadly Michael Jackson is not anymore one of them so I’ll definitively not see him live). I’ve already seen “Rolling Stones” and now after Madonna I really don’t know who could be added in this group? Who is such an institution on the global scale?

Concert itself was true spectacle. Light, laser, computer, dancers, 8 huge mobile LED screens … all effects were absolutely perfect. Of course she is inhumanly fit considering her age. She danced like 10-20 years ago… But then, she wasn’t the same Madonna as she was 10-20 years ago. Her music has evolved and I’m not sure if I like direction she took. She is (and will probably remain) the biggest pop icon ever but the music she’s making now is hardly pop; or if it is it has so many techno spices that it makes special subgenre.

Concert (after exactly an hour delay. That was very surprising. I’m not even sure if she was aware that she’s late) started with “Candy Shop” and really, as much as you were pissed cause you’re standing an hour like an idiot in that moment every negative emotion just vanishes. I mean, the moment when you’re ACTUALLY looking at Madonna only few (tens of) meters from you really shocks you. It does have an impact: at first you are paralyzed like and then you just go wild.

Concert was divided in four parts: First part “Pimp” was homage to art-deco of 1920-ies. After introducing animation she appears sitting on the “M”-shaped throne. The peak of this part is “Vogue” in new design mixed with tones from “4 minutes”.

Second part “Old School” reminding us on her beginnings 1980-ies. I LOVED her “Get Into the Groove” with fantastic paints of Keith Haring (whom I like as well and whose reproduction I even have on my wall). I think this was my favourite part. You know here she was real Madonna, true pop queen.

Third “Gypsy” part was filled with Latino rhythm. There was a Ukrainian Gypsy band who played “La Isla Bonita” mixed with some traditional gypsy songs. It was interesting but I’m afraid that the change of one of her greatest hits ever was so drastic that it became different song. I’m not sure did I like that too much. Later, Gypsies had their solo performance which I’m sure was absolutely stunning in Western Europe, North America or Australia but she came in the part of the world where world’s best gypsy music is producing and I really doubt that anyone was fascinated with that part. I mean common gypsy band in some tavern in Serbian (or Romanian or Bulgarian) province would put more fire and heart in their songs. So the folks here really are used to really go wild with gypsy music so I’m afraid Ukrainians didn’t even produce a sparkle in the audience but hey we are tolerant so we waited Madonna to take microphone. But then when she took she sung “You Must Love Me” from “Evita” which was really slow and didn’t stimulate the mass.

Final part “Rave” was a mix of Far East choreography and visual effects and electronic music and it was OK. It ended with “Give It To Me” which was absolutely fascinating and the very peak of the concert. her commuication with audience was phenomenal during that song, she was giving microphone to the peoples in first raw and whole mass was dancing like crazy. Too bad that climax meant also the end.

There were few very special moments such is tribute to Michael Jackson (this video is not from last night’s show but from London but it was exactly the same so I’m putting it). Indeed, “Long live The King!”

There were no too many shocking things (after all elections in US are over) but since she’s known for her political and ecological activism there were one segment dedicated to this. Namely during video break and song “Get Stupid” which has had the theme global warming, ecological disasters, craziness of consumer society, political dictatorships… there were scenes with Hitler, Robert Mugabe, Kim Jong-il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iranian religious leaders, scenes from political rallies after presidential elections in Iran few months ago including the death of  ‘Neda’ video.
Then there was images of destruction and comes one very curious part. Namely on the big screen along with scenes of destruction and bombing appears US flag. Now, without any euphemisms we are not very fond of American foreign politics in last 15 years (we’ve been bombed, US opinion about Kosovo is completely opposite of ours, those are two issues among many other bead ones) so I was curious to see reaction of the audience but (surprisingly!) there was no any. And then image of Barack Obama appeared and the audience reacted with ovations! I so didn’t expect that and I must say I was thrilled with it. I don’t know if he’ll bring some big changes that will have some positive influence on our lives but I’m so glad to see that change has happened in our minds and that we do have faith in American peoples’ choice.

All in all this was good concert but I did have highest expectations. There were not enough big hits (there were beside the ones I mentioned) “Like a Prayer”, “Music”, “Frozen”, “Holiday”, “4 Minutes”. So the set list wasn’t the happiest one; it was more warm/cold when the crowd sunk into delirium after some hit goes something that calms atmosphere down and so on. Too many average songs spiced with cruel, cold professionalism. Communication with the audience was solid but for our standards not nearly enough (just for the record Mick Jagger talked with us IN SERBIAN!).

Now when I’ve mentioned again concert Rolling Stones had I knew they’ve made standard that (I honestly believe) no one will be able to achieve but I didn’t expect that difference between that one and last night’s, Madonna’s, the grates pop icon EVER will be so enormous!

It was a good concert indeed, it was amazing spectacle and I would regret horribly if I have missed it. But that wasn’t nearly the concerts I watched 15 years ago fantasizing to be there.

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I can’t believe the concert has been cancelled! Dave Gahan has been transferred to the hospital minutes before their show in Athens (May 12). I really hoped he’ll be fine until May 20th when the show in Belgrade has been scheduled.

However, yesterday the group announced they have been forced to cancel a further four shows on their Sounds of the Universe tour due to further complications from Dave Gahan’s severe bout of gastroenteritis.  One of those four concerts is Belgrade 😦

Gosh I was so thrilled when last year it has been announced that DM will FINALLY have concert in Belgrade. Now I’m looking at my ticket hoping it will be used someday soon that the tour will be rescheduled and we’ll get new date.

9th May is Day of Victory over fascism and also Day of Europe and as such is celebrated including in Serbia. When I say celebrated I mean that all European embassies participate in some projects mostly cultural. So in the main pedestrian zone here in Belgrade each of European embassies has had its stand where citizens might get known closer culture of certain country. Cynical as Serbs became toward Europe in last few years the comments were more like “I rather see and feel personally your culture than to look brochures” and I agree. Truth I traveled most than vast majority of my compatriots but still I’m finding all this embassy-activities kind of hypocritical.

Anyway mostly everything we were hearing, getting and associating with Europe and “European values” (as if we here live according to some Martian values) have some bitter taste of insincerity that’s why I wasn’t interested whatsoever to go and see what’s happening in pedestrian zone in last Saturday. But I was preparing to go on something different the same day in the evening. It’s European and is very welcomed!

Like many, I’ve heard about Leningrad Cowboys for the first time thanks to amazing Aki Kaurismäki and his movies “Leningrad Cowboys Go America”, “Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses” and the “Total Balalaika Show”. That only because I’m huge Kaurismäki fan. And then on my last year’s trip to the north (Finland) we were watching “Total Balalaika Show” in the bus. They were fantastic. It’s one of those concerts that if I would have to pick one to see most probably I’d pick that one. They were performing along with Russian Alexander ensemble (160 members) in Helsinki with 70000 spectators. It was absolute craziness!

They are Finnish band whose members look … well I have no idea what word to use here. Just observe the photo. Their hairstyle, costumes, stage… and their repertoire is from Russian folk songs (which I adore!) to rock and roll performing immortal hits of The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin … etc. It’s such an original approach and condemned to produce fantastic experience!

Needles to say that I was utterly thrilled when I heard they are coming in Belgrade! And LOL on the entrance I saw almost entire crew from the trip. People who I haven’t see, nor hear for months! “We couldn’t miss this!” everyone said.

Sadly, sadly, sadly the promoting campaign before concert wasn’t nearly as it should’ve been! “Leningrad Cowboys” are completely unknown for Serbian audience. My friends who were at the concert with me would never go unless I didn’t talk about it. Therefore there were not as many people as I was hoping to see. And the hall organizers picked was such a bad choice: It’s huge and with seats!!! Why on earth seats??? So of course the very first sentence Tipe Johnson said was: “Get your butts off those seats! No one is sitting where we are coming from!” and we were obedient! and then they started: “Back In the USSR”, “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Gimme All Your Lovin'”, “Whiskey In a Jar”, “Perfect Day”, “Easy Livin”, “Smoke On the Water”

Communication with the audience was fantastic (which is very important for us. I don’t know if that’s the case everywhere but we generally have some impression that something was lacking if the concert was phenomenal but communication with audience poor). Anyway Johnson spent good part of the concert among us in the audience, was calling one kid on the stage to play special tractor-like guitar, was giving microphone to see our vocal abilities…

For the end as an icing on the cake was Tom Johns’ “Delilah” and then “Those Were the Days”. Then they left the stage but we refused to go so they came back with “Eloise” and David Bowie’s “Starman”.

Tipe Jonson said: ”I don’t know do you know but we know that we are for the first time here in Belgrade! And we are very glad to be here and you will be glad as well for being here tonight because you’ll say one day to your grandchildren that you saw “Leningrad Cowboys” when they played in Serbia for the first time!”

Not sure about grandchildren but I surely do have what to talk about!

stonesOK it’s very strange to say when you are 30 years of age (as a matter of fact as of today so Happy Birthday to me! Wee!!!) since I’d like to believe that 30 is not “old” that experience you have is the best one you’ll ever feel. In spite the fact that hopefully decades are in from of you. But I really cannot imagine that I shall ever be part of better concert than the one from last Saturday, 14th July.

I should say that we in Serbia have ‘history of waiting Stones to come rolling’ and we all believed that they will come after Godot. In past few years their concert has been canceled several times. We even have a saying that whoever bring Stones in Serbia will win next elections. So when the concert has been announced we didn’t have high hopes; then the tickets has been released and we bought them and still we didn’t have high hopes (because once concert has been canceled in spite the tickets) and then day after day idea of the concert has becoming more and more realistic until the final day. We went, enter the concert space, looking at the stage, listen other musicians who were play and still without real knowledge that in a few hours the Stones will be on that same stage! So we were waving our bodies with “Elecrtic Orgasm”, cult Serbian rock band (I’m a huge fan) and “The Answer” from Belfast who were giving us some homage to Led Zeppelin and AC/DC; luckily Stones generation is familiar with that sound. and then after some dense psychological pause it came dark…

… and dark … and then small light in the distance … and the crowd started to scream … and the light has becoming brighter … and brighter … and screams were louder … and louder … and the light brighter … and scream louder … and light brighter … and bigger … and then … BANG! … ‘Start me up’ … partly blind we were starting to realize: this is THE moment: They ARE here!

stones
(I was 15 meters in front of this moving stage)

I don’t know … I was standing in shock and looking at those men convincing myself that I am there and they are there as well and even though it looks exactly as on TV it’s not TV (or if so I’m on TV). I was standing and thinking That shit I’ve spent my youth in is over … OVER! (probably my youth as well LOL) and then I become wild.

After first song Jagger said “Dobro veče Srbijo! Zdravo Beograde! Presrećni smo što smo ovde!” (Good evening Serbia! Hello Belgrade! We are very happy to be here!) and after that he was holding more than 50000 people in his hand. He was actually speaking in Serbian after almost every song “Ja se odlično zabavljam! A vi?” (I’m having great fun! Are you?) …“Konačno smo ovde” (We are finally here) … finally indeed!
I wont lie, when Keith Richards said “Welcome to the club!” my eyes were filled with tears. This might sound silly for you; maybe you think it’s just another concert, not big deal. Oh but it is, it is!

Of course they are great professionals and great institution and legends and whatnot so you shoud expect at least perfection. And of course, perfection is what you’ll get. At least.
It will not be exaggeration if I say that we’ve got that night much, much more.

stones

It was evident that Jagger and the crew have felt enormous positive energy. And nothing else will be the same again (I’m saying that with all risk to be pathetic). When you once live picture of high resolution it will be impossible that anyone in the future will manage to sell you some domestic or foreign forgery. 50000 people will remember 14th July 2007 as a day they become part of the world.

It was our Bang, The Biggest Bang!

Thursday Thirteen

Eurosong 2008

1. More fresh news from this corner of the world!
I never thought I’ll write about Eurovision Song Contest because that was something with no such importance for me but I guess I was wrong. Indeed Serbia won but that’s not the reason why I’m writing about this.

2. Since majority of you are from USA I should explain what it is all about in case you don’t know (and I‘ll post explanation my friend Giz gave): The Contest dates back to 1956 and every country enters one act. You can then vote for your favourite except the country you are calling from. They are professional artists – for example, Cliff Richard was in it twice (although he never won) and the entry that had the biggest ever hit in the USA was UK entry for 1996 Gina Gee singing ”Oh Ah Just a Little Bit”. Probably the most famous ever Eurovision winner is ”Waterloo” by Abba.
The country that wins hosts the next years competition – this year it is Helsinki, Finland.

3. Now I should say that Eurovision Song Contest was always nothing more than annual evening entertainment. Yugoslavia always participated (and won 1989) before its collapse and then after the war and huge pause we 4. came back in Istanbul 2004 as Serbia and Montenegro with one of the best song I’ve heard on this competition EVER (of course this is my personal opinion): Lane Moje performed by Željko Joksimović and Ad Hoc Orchestra. Melody totally represents Serbian music tradition (it’s beautiful fusion of traditional folk music and the modern one) and also the lyrics are: Lane moje means something like my dear but even softer; lane literally means the lamb (of a deer) and it’s archaic and very poetic way to call a dear one. Here you can see their performance from Istanbul (observe reaction of audience):

5. That year was very specific and indeed it was quite emotional (for many of my compatriots and yes, for me too) because after all those crappy years we are back. My disappointment then because we took second place was/is much bigger than joy because of our victory this year. The fact that our song was proclaimed as the best one by the professional musician’s jury wasn’t too helpful.
That 2004 Ukraine took 1st place with some jumping it the fur “Wild Dance” screaming in some variant of to me completely-impossible-to-understand English.
But OK that story is over so we’re jumping on this year’s contest in Helsinki, Finland.

6. I have to say I’m not fan of Marija Šerifović (this year’s winner) but when I heard her song on national competition I really liked a lot; the song was really good, the lyrics and arrangement too and she has great voice! (by the way I think those other girls is to show that we have pretty ones as well).
7. And (which I especially liked) she broke all patterns:
First time after 1991 contest winning song was in native language (not English)
First time after 1994 contest a ballad won.
Choreography was completely minimalist without jumping all over the scene.
And of course physical appearance of the singer was not nearly model-like.
So I do think that this time song was the main issue.

8. Here you can hear the winning song “Molitva” (Prayer):

9. And then comes reactions from Europe which is the main reason why I’m writing about this. I’m completely shocked by reaction of Western European media (mainly British).
Comment on BBC was ”At times, their routine resembled liturgical dancing. At others, it seemed to be a slow-motion lesbian porn film” and then comes comments about her physical appearance and “political” voting. Namely many think that Serbia won because ex-Yugoslavia countries (there is also as they say ex-USSR and Scandinavian block) are voting for each other and therefore song from West Europe will never win. Press reactions to the Eurovision Song Contest 2007 final in Western European countries was cynical at best, with calls to withdraw from tabloid columnists and former participants alike in the weekend news. You can find some news how Serbian song is actually plagiary of Albanian one which is such obvious nonsense (I’ve heard both one). It’s very strange and I would say very significant that almost no one in UK searched reasons for bad result in their utterly bad song.

10. On the other hand I do think that people here are taking quite seriously what they’ll chose to represent them in Europe and are putting much more effort than in West European countries. Indeed there are ‘neighboring voting” but I think that is logical because they understand the song, it’s very close to their ethnos and they are recognizing it as their own BUT I don’t think that is crucial especially not this year. Our song didn’t receive votes only from three or four countries (of 42) so neighbors have helped but without rest of the Europe we wouldn’t win.

11. I like one comment on the BBC (on the question “Should Serbia have won Eurovision?”), here it goes:
Is it really so hard for England to accept that Serbia has won? Would there be such question if England has won? Can you imagine such title “Should England have won”? Arrogance will not make you win anything.

12. I should say that German ORF continues to call Serbia’s entry a “classy song”, whilst France’s Le Monde reports that “finally, a good song has won”

13. For the end of this quite longish TT I’ll post photos: 70000 people in a front of Belgrade City Hall came to welcome the winner! (I never expected that people here are taking Eurosong so seriously!)
BelgradeBelgrade

Oh yes I almost forgot:
See you in Belgrade next year!

(PS
My apologize to everyone who have left comments here and whose blogs I can’t visit. Namely I still have problem to open certain blogs (not all) on blogger.)


Yeah! I’m one of those lucky people who own ticket for RHCP’s concert 26th June at Greenfest in Inđija, Serbia!

This is one enormous THANK YOU! to Jelena and Marina who waited yesterday in the line from 11am ‘till 6pm to buy the tickets. They were so sweet and didn’t want to call me so that we could wait in shifts while I didn’t have a clue what are they doing. I just received phone call when everything was over.
Thank you girls!