Thursday, April 14, 2011
So after theree nights in my own bed (which was fantastic!), it was time to leave the UK again. I missed the three shows in Holland purposely--mainly due to the size of the venue. When I saw the Dark Side shows at the same venue a few years before, it was the worst experience ever--HUGE venue, drunk fans, and overall just not a good show.
I flew out of Heathrow at 12 noon and arrived in Zagreb around 3:15 P.M. Kevin messaged me as I was flying over--he arrived earlier in the day and checked in to “The Movie” hotel. He told me how to get there once I arrived at the central train station. Kevin said to get the number 4 tram and it should take me straight by the hotel. He also said I could take the number 14 bus. I found the bus station ticket office, but soon realised not many of the people working there spoke much English.
Zagreb, Croatia for the first time The sun was out for half an hour Half-built road, middle of nowhere
The hotel was only two miles away--I could see the route on my Blackberry maps app. I showed the lady at the ticket office where I wanted to go and asked for a ticket. “Next bus is 7:30 in the morning," she said. I questioned this, trying to explain it was only two miles away. Again, “next bus is 7:30 in the morning.” I gave up, walked outside, and took a cab! 20 minutes later I was there and 10 Euros lighter. What I forgot is that Croatia and Prague and Poland--all the countries I was visiting--do NOT use the Euro! Well, at least it's not their default currency, but they do accept it, and fortunately the cab driver did, too. I'm sure I was ripped off in the conversion, but that's my fault, I guess.
I arrived at the hotel, and Kevin was outside waiting. The hotel was an odd place. I believe it started off as a themed bar called The Movie Star dedicated to Hollywood movie stars. They converted a lot of the upstairs rooms into bedrooms, and each bedroom has a number and a movie star's name. We were in the Al Pacino room!
Croatian Kuna!! You talking to me?
Its very rare that I eat airline food, and I only had breakfast in the airport lounge at 10 A.M. We headed down to the “movie bar” and had a snack before heading out to the venue. The tram stopped right outside the hotel. Tickets are sold at most convenience/tobacco stores for a couple of Euros, and the tram drops off right next to the venue. Kevin left his bag in a bar he normally frequents, obviously because of the picture of Roger Sretaw in it!
Kevin chatted with a few friends he only sees when he comes out to Croatia, and at around 7 P.M. I headed inside the venue. It was all standing room on the floor--just a typical arena like most in other cities. The last three shows I missed were in the venue I hated, but according to Kevin and other online sources, it had been great--because the venue was so big, the wall extended in length by 25%, and the projections looked amazing! Tonight it was back to 12 bricks high, 48 bricks wide--the normal dimensions.
As I walked onto the floor, I bumped into my friend Werner, whom I saw in Milan, and my friend Peter, whom I last saw on the Dark Side tour! We chatted for a good 20 minutes, but it was Peter's first show of The Wall, so we had to keep any chat about the show quiet. Werner was going to Prague, so we’d meet up there. Peter was coming to London in May, so we’d have more time to chat, too. By the time I made my way to the front left side of the stage, Kevin already secured a place for us both one row back from the rail. He was talking to a lot of the fans around him, and after I arrived, I passed a few cards out promoting my blog. I took a couple of pictures with them to post here as promised--see below:
Peter and I Kevin and a fan--Luka, I think A fan and I--Lucy, I think The venue
You could tell before the show that the Croatian audience would be good. Roger's never played Croatia before--something he made reference to in his speech at the end of Outside The Wall. The show was a little late starting, and the fireworks went up around 8:10 P.M. At a couple of the last shows, one of the guards places the long leather trench coat on Roger, and I've noticed his face just light up--he looks so happy--as though he’s missed wearing the coat, and it feels good to get back into it! It's kind of hard to explain, but if you're near the front at the shows, definitely watch the expression on his face as he puts the coat on.
We were right about the crowd--they were fantastic! While they weren't as loud as the Milan crowds, they were very enthusiastic, shouting and and cheering. The show was without glitches, which seems to be the norm now. To be honest, though, whenever they seem faultless, I speak to Dave K. afterwards, and sometimes it's amazing how many technical problems he’ll say they experienced!
Once again, “no fucking way” was written on the left side of the wall in the local language. Whoever came up with this idea is a genius! This always gets a great reaction from the crowd. However, there are other times when it’s strange how much of what Roger says in English is totally lost on the foreign crowd--the English just doesn't come across. For instance, when Roger says "At the risk of seeming a bit narcissistic," at the beginning of Mother there is always a good chuckle from the audience in English-speaking countries. In non-English-speaking cities, it doesn't get much or any reaction. I've noticed a couple of other times where this happens which I may share later.
When I was chatting to Jon Joyce in Milan, he told me that the band and crew, including Roger, always refer to him as "the sergeant." Roger ordered Jon some special sergeant stripes for his shirt, and I saw them the first time this show. They were sewn on the shoulder of his right arm, complete with customised crossed hammers on them! The boys all did a great job tonight, as did the rest of the band. Dave seemed to really enjoy Run Like Hell--the hair flicks were off the chart!
The wall came down in spectacular fashion! Kevin and I felt a great gust of wall wind, and the crowd erupted with cheers as it come crashing down. The first few notes that Roger plays on the trumpet are always a touch rusty. If you're at the front, make sure to watch Dave and Snowy react to Roger's trumpet playing. It always makes me smile. Tonight was a little different, though--Roger started blowing his trumpet before the band came out onstage. I'm not sure if he thought the radio mic was off when he did this, or if he knew and was just having a laugh. It sounded just like someone who couldn't play picked it up and started blowing it. It was only for a few seconds, though. Snowy and Dave came out in hysterics and laughed as Roger started playing yet again.
It was a fantastic show, and Roger commented he couldn't believe it had taken him 40 years to play Croatia! I was surprised at how young the audience were. Normally, it's a good mix of young and old people, male and female. However, I'd guess at least 70% were under 30 with at least 40% young girls! Kevin also noticed and commented on it when we were outside the venue.
We got the tram back to the hotel, and I hit the hay around midnight. Have to be up at 6:30 in the morning for the 12-hour train ride to Prague!
The venue--after the show with the moon above
Posted by Simon W at Thursday, April 14, 2011