Friday 09 June 2000

Hotel Depressing somewhere outside Poznan

Hotel Depressing, somewhere outside Poznan, Poland.

We flew yesterday on two hops from Frankfurt & Copenhagen, ameliorated by quite acceptable splits of bubbling solution. And now...

The trouble with defining a situation that you must not be put into is that, having defined the situation, you will be put into it. Example? Here's two.

Firstly, the hotel. If a hotel is so modest, lifeless, charmless and/or unpleasant to be in, that one cannot bear to remain within it, then the hotel should be in town, or close to cafes & vibrational sites. So, if you can't stay in your hotel, you may easily leave it on foot. You are therefore not reliant on others, on taxis, on having foreign currency, on knowing where you are going, on having a reasonable command of the language, on having enough time to discover where you might wish to be. To put this positively, you are independent.

This hotel is 20-30 minutes driving from Poznan so I will not easily be leaving it. And I cannot in good cheer stay here. This vacuum-with-a-bed-in-it is not a vacuum with architecture or d√ącor designed to support, raise or generate positive feelings. This equates to a sense of capture & imprisonment. In the days of EG Management, I might have interpreted this as either deliberate, or the result of care-lessness for artist wellbeing. How may I interpret this today? I come to 2 brief conclusions:

A mistake was made by the travel agent. My clearly & frequently stated viewpoint was ignored.

Secondly, the venue. If a venue is so large that the audience are unable to have any sense of the group, and/or the acoustics are so bad that a musical performance is compromised to the degree that it is undermined, the venue should be declined.

Poznan Arena is a large, round sports hall to seat a nominal 3,000. I have been in venues this size which seated 5,000. It may be a good space for sports in the round. It may even be as appropriate for music as a symphony hall is for soccer. Neither venues are, however, suitable for rock music. But a symphony hall has, at least, an energetic & historic connection with music.

My words to the promoter's assistant yesterday around 18.20 (I'd gone to the Arena to get out of the hotel) was this: "The good news is that, after tomorrow night, I will never come here again".

I come to 2 brief conclusions:

Whoever set up this show was primarily interested in business, and secondarily (if at all) in music. My clearly & frequently stated viewpoint was ignored.

Diary visitors may remember that I was given an ultimatum on this European tour when it was in the detailed planning stages - accept that this is the best we can do (and the ticket prices aren't high!) or cancel it now - and (obviously) I accepted. Well, I made a mistake.

Probably this was a mistake for our promoters too: ticket prices are high (assurances to the contrary) and promoters are losing money on us. This is not a good sign: promoters only stay in business if they make a profit. Business is presently bad overall: major names aren't selling well either. In most German towns Crimson pulls around 1,000 at the moment. Given our particular, peculiar on-off history, that's not bad. But for the promoter to be happier, we'd need another 300-400 audients each evening. And Shooter (our German promoters) did a very good job promoting the shows. I regret that they are losing on us.

Add to this the ongoing audience-rights debate; audient insistence on photography, autography & recording; the reassurance of Mr. Abbott et al that wherever Crimson plays we will be violated; and I have to reflect on what is presently possible for live performance. My conclusion is rapidly coming to this:

Only business & fetishising is possible. Music lies elsewhere.

Well, we played a lot of music for a photo session. And for a photo session there were a lot of autograph hunters.

On the way back, in the van:

Adrian: What did you think of tonight?
Robert: At the moment I'm radically re-evaluating my life as a working musician.

I will never set foot in Poznan Arena again. That's the good news. The better news is this: should anyone suggest that I/we do, I'll know that my relationship with them has just ended.