Hello everyone here!
I’ll try to make my review as entire and emotional as possible
1st : Meeting Chris before the gig.
I got an info that Chris will be checking up the sound at 2pm. So, me and a couple of the most devoted fans who didn’t work that day were waiting for Chris at the backstage entrance for about 3 hours. Unexpectingly, no one did bother us standing in the spring sun quite nearby the backdoors. It was wonderful time waiting – we were joking about what would we say to Chris as he arrives.
It was no surprise for mу when a not luxurious small Merc Viano minivan stopped in front of us and behind the shifting door we saw the Man. He was dressed of dark wool sweater and purple bri-nylon Adidas long sports jacket. I screamed “Hello Chris, welcome to St.Petersburg and nice to meet you as you look healthier and healthier!” Chris smiled and walked up straight to me, shook my hand with passion (fantastic feeling!!!), then greeted my friends, Irina and Sergey.
After that someone of us asked whether Chris can sign the things we held, and Chris began to search for his marker. When we all handed Chris our markers, he said “No, no, I must find mine!” Finally, he did that and signed his photo in the Classic Rock magazine article and Auberge CD sleeve for Sergey, my On the Beach LP made in the USSR fro Irina (the largest signature!) and last for me, Auberge LP, Dancing with Strangers LP and very-very big calendar with a excellent photo where Chris is playing his Italia Blue Sparkle at St.Petersburg gig 2 years ago. Chris was defining each line in his signs and with a tricky smile on his face! Then we asked if we can make some photos and the answer was yes. Only one photo was allowed for each of us, I was the last one to be shot with the Man, Chris has already held his bag when I begged for one more picture and again Chris shook my hand for the shot. But something went wrong with the camera (or the boy who was shooting) and we were holding each others hands for about 30 seconds. Very strange and funny feelings, you know! Chris’s palm was warm, very soft but heavyweight, the great hidden power could be felt in it. Handshake was strong but tender and delicate, rich enough in passion not indifference. Finally, the photo was made, Chris and managers walked up to the entrance, and only as he turned away I said “and God bless you Chris”, but there was no reply. Unfortunately, our meeting lasted only for about a couple of minutes, I hoped there’ll a short conversation, but one of the managers screamed out “That’s enough, time is up, security”… But I have to say Chris was not gonna talk to us as he looked a bit tired and busy and only some short phrases could be heard form him. Second, I found that photo with he Man and me is not that good as I expected…
But I love very much picture with Chris that was made by me. He looked, certainly, far grown old, but with a smart hairstyle and his eyes - lively as much as they always were. And, of course, his smile of a wise and experienced artist...
2nd : before the gig and the audience:
THE GIG WAS SOLD OUT! (3760 seats)
Unpleasantly, there was no new t-shirts been selling before the gig and neither the new album!
Without it, I bought only an old Farewell Tour black silhouette t-shirt and the tour book (thanks God!). It’s really said there “don’t worry if you arrived so late that you missed all the Delmonts part – I’ve got a feeling they’ll be back in the autumn’’... Well, it would be certainly great...
The age of the audience was rather old – very few young people as I’ve already said.
We (me, Irina, an elder friend of mine and my father) borrowed the center of 3rd row, while the first 2 rows and the rest “VIP” seats were borrowed by strange people (not fans, not rich-looking, some looked like being there accidentally...)
Securities told everyone not to use cameras and phones and strictly looked out for everyone who tried.
so, I made no pictures at the gig, but one of my friends (Chris’s fan, of course) was accredited to shoot as a magazine reporter. Can’t wait for his photos.
3rd: the gig.
Strange, but the gig did not start in time – only 13 minutes to 9pm.
Only 6 tracks from the Delmonts, all solos by Robert except BB Was a Comanche (great blues instrumental!) Only Chris and Colin were wearing Delmonts’ t-shirts. I’m not sure whether all tracks were played with Hofner guitars, but the sound in the 1st part was a bit strange, probably plain and scratching on tweeters.
When the 2nd part began (later the sound was excellent in space and beauty in its entirety), even my good friends thought Chris suddenly decided to start with the Road to Hell!!! The sound of I Can’t Wait for Love intro was very close! As someone here, I found this tune quite awesome! Legacy Blue did not touch my feeling so much, but have to say it’s very optimistic tune. I could hardly hide my tears with the notes of Where the Blues Come from (excellent version, but a bit shorter than I expected) and its turning to Josephine banjo\piano version (Neil has done well, but in his own manner, far too different from the passionate style of Paul Hirsch). I never heard such a long, about 8 minutes, version of Stony Road, in the end of which Chris really showed “dancing down”, within an appropriate guitar playing. Someone here told us Julia and Josephine were played the same way as on farewell tour, but I don’t know how it’s been on other HBN gigs , but Julia was played in absolutely unique way, closer to a sound of Chris’s early 90s’ or 60s’\70s’ Blues form Blue Guitars. Quite great, better than any version I‘ve heard before! Need to notice fantastic guitar echo sound on Easy Rider and unbelievable Chris vocals tembre! Looking for the Summer was the most wishing song to be heard, guitar solo was rather long and very beautiful. By the way, on this song and also on BB was a Comanche and Legacy blue Chris used a “scratched and hurt” old strat, which must have been red or pink in the past. I remember that at Rockpalast Loreley in 1985 chris used 2 “Pinkies” during the gig, and probably, it’s that forgotten one?... I found Shadow of a Fool just supreme as I heard it for the 1st time. Very soulful blues tune. I was wondering whether Chris would play Stainsby Girls with same improvised heavy outro as he did the previous times, and he did! Moreover, he really did dance, walk a kind of goose-steps and even make some pa in a style of hard-rock legends! We “danced” right in our seats, as there was no chance to stand up and join Chris dancing! And, by the way, Chris was really looking at us as we were the only ones who actively enjoyed his passionate play! One of my friends said The Road to Hell was not a number to be played on such a gig – too popular. And I should say it was obviously near madness in the hall when Chris turned to RTH part 2. One guy began to struggle in convulsions and almost broke his chair – I think it was the only song well known for him
This is not that healthy...
And when the Band returned to play On the Beach, I said to Irina: “As Chris starts to play with the audience – let’s stand up and reply!” Chris, by the way, played this old tune closer to 88’s version (surprise!), but in the same light-reggae style. The most remarkable is when Chris sung “I say yeah!!” I immediately stood up and answered “Ye-eh!” in time, but in the full silence, he turned to me and articulated “sit down and wait!” and pointed his arm to the right balconies (people answered very easy!), then to the lefts and after that he pointed at me and showed “well, stand up! now your turn!” and pronounced “on the beach!” with a funny bassy, very low voice as he likes to do
No one could hear me reply, but everybody saw and laughed! It was FANTASTIC FEELING taking part with the band
By the way, I did really appreciate Neil’s solo on organ – very unusual!!!
When Let’s Dance started, it seemed to us it was only the equator of the playlist... But I had to say “No, unfortunately, it’s the last track. Enjoy!” and I enjoyed entirely! My friend said “you don’t like this song!” and I answered it did not matter that moment. We have noticed that Tommy Willis and another tech were gazing at Irina and me and smiled, laughed and waved their hands as we caught their looks! I never felt so involved in artist’s play so much as it was this evening!
Of course, we missed Fool if You Think It’s Over very much, but I knew the band wouldn’t come back anymore... So we sung “Fool” by ourselves a capella as the lights were turned on!
After all, Chris threw his mediator to the level of 10-12th row, but we did find it!!!
After the gig many people were waiting Chris at the backdoors, but after half an hour he went out of the hall and settled straight in his minivan, being totally exhausted and indifferent...And I know why – he gave away all that part of his perfect soul that he could give, in the sound of guitar and his voice, and everything else. Thanks Chris a thousand times!!!
Thanks also to everyone who read this review to the end
Best regards to all of you here,