Śliczny, the Polish word for lovely, seems an appropriate way to describe the surroundings when you walk Northwards along the shoreline from our hotel in Sopot, a town few of us had heard of before this week. The Polish Riviera at this time of year is heaving with families on vacation, enjoying the balmy weather and calm waters of the Baltic Sea. The beach is white sand and as far as I could tell, well maintained and clean. The sea temperature is ‘refreshing’.
Lying smack between Gdansk and Gdynia, a retreat for the rich and royal for centuries, Sopot’s exclusive air remained even through the Communist era. Boasting beautiful beaches and flashy resorts, Sopot is known for its Wooden Pier, the longest in Europe.
In what was somewhat a repeat of yesterday, in terms of a delay, our rigging truck was pulled over by the police in the early hours on its way to Gdańsk. I’m not sure exactly why but apparently it was nothing to do with the way it was being driven, or the driver. It was held up for 3 hours and a fine was issued. Thankfully they eventually let it continue.
Consequently, the entire load-in process was seriously compromised. With the rigging, including catering, arriving at 12:30, the crew had their work cut out to make the show, let alone a sound check. The band were informed that we may not be heading to the venue until 6. We have done shows in the past without sound checks but it generally means that Dave at FOH spends the first few songs getting used to the room. We prefer the sound to be good from the start. The slight irony is that tonight will be the last time in Europe that we use our own PA system. The rest of the shows involve local PA’s as they are mostly festivals which insist on house PA’s.
Zadziwiająco, (one of literally hundreds of Polish words that begin with the letter Z, meaning Astonishingly) the crew had the stage ready for a sound check at 5:15. This was difficult to comprehend when you see the size of their task each day but now deep into the tour, they have the procedure down to a fine art. Kevin Hopgood our Production manager filmed the ‘Stage Roll’ below. As Dave Hall our stage manager said “it’s days like today we get paid for”. Anyone can do the easy days but when it’s tight like this, it requires extraordinary co-ordination and experience to make it work. The Stage rollout demonstrates how the rigging can be set at the same time as the backline is set up. A huge time saving in venues where there is space and facility to allow it.
No more than 10 minutes before doors opened, we finished our sound check and headed for Cream of Mushroom Soup and dinner prepared by our remarkable catering team who were under the same constraints as the rest of the crew.
Yet another wonderful evening lie ahead as we took to the stage for our final Polish show. As with all tours, it’s not long before someone gets sick and a couple in the band tonight were ‘fighting’. You’d never know who though as the show simply must go on. We headed back to our Sopot base for drinks in the bar whilst the crew loaded out and prepared for a journey none of them were looking forward to, an overnight to Lucca involving a 5am Ryanair flight. Ouch. After all that!