St. Petersburg, Russia

Ice Palace

June 3, 2008

[Jim Nolan]

Review by Jim Nolan

After the excellent Helsinki show,my three companions Lizz, Mike and Ken
and myself set off on the 7.30 train to St Petersburg with our hearts held
high. A journey of about six hours. We arrived in St Pete around 1pm. The
first shock of the day (and there were many) was the massive size and depth
of the metro system. The escalater took several minutes to reach the
platforms way below ground. The Metro is ornately decorated too,no wonder
it is called 'The Peoples Palace'. We emerged after our short journey blinking  
in the sunight onto Nevskiy Prospekt, the main street. The first thing that 
hits you is the sheer size of the place. And where ever your gaze wanders 
you can see the most stunning buildings. We decided to check out St Isaacs 
Cathedral first. I highly recommend the long climb up to the Colanade(the 
dome) for a fantastic view of the city in all its sunkissed glory.Next we went 
to the Church of Spilled Blood which is another marvellous sight to behold.
The following morning we set off for the Hermitage Museum which was
about a five minute walk from our hotel. Now,I have been to a lot of
museums throughout Europe, NY and Eygpt, but the Hermitage is one of 
the most spectacular for sure. After over four hours wandering through the
museum with my eyes on stalks I hot footed it across the River Neva to
see the Romanovs crypts in the Peter and Paul Fortress. A 300 year
Dynasty and they are all now laid to rest here.

By the time I returned to the hotel it was almost time to set off for
Bobs Russian debut in 'The Ice Palace' where the ice hockey team SKA
Petersburg play their home games. Lizz and myself had to run the gauntlet
of the Metro again but this was now rush hour and not a trip for the
fainthearted. We were wedged into the carriage and at each stop more
people somehow squeezed on, but we eventually emerged ashen faced, but
unscathed and unbowed. Anyone with 'Personal Bubble' issues should not
attempt this Metro trip. We arrived outside the venue and spotted Ken
and Mike with Peatro who had our tickets. When we went in about 30 minutes
before before showtime the venue was almost empty. Maybe twenty people at
the front barrier as it was standing on floor and a sprinkle of folk in
the surrounding seats. Howlin Wolf, Sonhouse and Charlie Patton playing
over the PA. We ended up standing in the second row with Bob to our right
side. Fantastic spot. Oh and hello to Aya with the orange hair who was
seeing her first Bob concert. I wont mention every song played but the
first thrill for me was the 'new' Tangled. A sort of Bluegrass swing to
it. better than the Helsinki version I thought. Bob sang the the new line
"He drifted down to New Orleans..lucky to be employed..THREE TIMES ON A
excellent. The band really went for it and Bob was throwing some serious
shapes! John Brown was as haunting as ever. Every word sang crystal clear.
Honest With Me is rockier than ever. George was pounding the drums so hard
I thought he would disappear through the stage floor in a puff of smoke.
Just Like a Woman was another high light. Lovely harp from Bob.Crowd kept
singing chorus line throughout Its Alright Ma sounded fresh and new
Working Mans Blues and Aint Talkin deserve a special mention. I think
these two songs are up there with the best of Bobs forty odd year output
of great songs. Both were fabulous tonight. Thunder on the Mountain and
Like a Rolling Stone ended what was a magical and historic night in St
Petersburg. I dont know how many people were at the show but it was like
a club show in a biggish venue. The Russian crowd were great, cheering and
dancing at the intro to each song. Especially the very pretty russian girl
with black hair and sunglasses on her head beside me who was extremely
enthusiastic! We got a really nice Bob flyer stapled to our ticket
too, roughly 30 per ticket. Also no merchendise on sale in venue at all. I
spoke to Maria in Vilnius who looks after that end of things and she said
they were not allowed to bring stuff across the border to sell. After the
show I went out with Ken for a drink as it was his birthday (june 3rd). A
double celebration!. We met up with Kens Italian friends who I had not met
before. So hello to Antonio and Julia, Massimo an Laora and thank you
Peatro for getting us our tickets. All in all the trip of a lifetime, an
excellent concert with a great performaence by Bob and Band (delighted for
Aya!), and an jawdropping adventure in St Petersburg. Thanks Lizz for
organising hotels, train and bus tickets and the visa's and for being
chief map reader. And that was not the end of my adventures as I had
Tallinn, Vilnius and the mega and hot as hell Stodola Warsaw gig to
come. The latter two shows with 'Cardiff' Dave.

In the the 24 years I have been attending Bob shows this is my best trip
to date.To anyone going to Bob on his remaining european dates, you are
in for a treat. Bob is in fine form and the band are tighter than ever.
Hats off to Bob for continuing to surprise and enthrall! Roll on the next

Jim Nolan


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