Maggie Reilly Slupsk Festival: A Field Report

I’ve just returned from my first ever gig in Poland. In fact it’s the first time I’ve been to Poland at all. The Maggie Reilly band once again ventured out into unknown territory to perform at the Rock Legends Festival at the Amfiteatre Dolina Charlotta in Slupsk. This really is a very beautiful corner of the world and I can highly recommend a visit. The festival site was situated on a huge lake, in the middle of which sits a wonderful floodlit guest house and restaurant. In fact, here’s a little piccy I’ve swiped from their website….

The band flew out of Luton airport on Thursday. I didn’t. I had a duo gig at the National Theatre with Julie McKee that night and had to fly out alone at a rather ungodly hour the following morning. Flying out later did allow me to not only do Julie’s gig, but also dash off to attend Steve Lawson and Lobelia’s wonderful gig at the Perseverance later that night. I had a great time Thursday night and also met some of the lovely Twitter folk. It also helped me stay awake in order to catch my plane!

As those of you who know me well will know, early mornings are not my forte. And the chances of me getting any sleep knowing I had to leave the house at 4.30 were, to be frank, slim at the very least. So I decided to pull an all-nighter and go straight out to the airport. I’ve had to do this a number of times in the past to catch early flights and have a number of cunning rouses to stay awake and alert. Having dinner at midnight is always a winner: an attempt to fool my body into thinking it’s much earlier than it really is….

I arrived in Gdansk at midday, to be met by the son of the festival manager. We had to wait another hour for the backing singer from Chris Norman’s band to arrive from Germany (she was also working the previous night), so more coffee was eagerly consumed (I was starting to feel the effects of the all-nighter at this juncture). The 120km drive to Slupsk took far longer than it should have because of holiday traffic. Apparently we were heading in exactly the same direction as Vladislavova, a popular Polish holiday destination, so you can imagine the traffic on a Friday afternoon. What should have taken an hour or so eventually took three hours.

I arrived at the festival site just as Chris Norman finished sound-checking. Interestingly, nobody from Maggie’s band had called me thus far to see where I was… I would discover why shortly.

As I fitted some new strings to my bass and stepped up onto the stage to organise the hired backline, our lovely German promoter Earnst appeared asking me about who needed what on stage gear-wise. When I told him I wasn’t sure whether Stuart was going to be playing any guitar or not he abruptly turned to me and said “Stuart isn’t here. He’s broke his arm”.

What? I swear this was the first I’d heard about it. The rest of the band then arrived from the hotel (I didn’t get to the hotel until after the show, by which point I’d been up for over 40 hours straight). Chrys’ friend Gordon was depping on keyboards and guitar. He’d only got the call a few days previously and had been feverously working out the parts with Maggie back in Glasgow. 

As a result, our sound check turned into a full on run-through of the show, encores and all! Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t have been a problem. But I was trying to save a little something for the actual show energy-wise, and it was 29 degrees out there and the stage was positioned facing directly into the blistering sun! Let me tell you, I have never been so hot in my life. We must have been up there for a good couple of hours and by the end of it we were all soaked through and mildly sunburnt. Possibly one of the most unpleasant soundcheck scenarios to date?

After some great food at the restaurant on the lake, we were on. I have no idea how many people were at the gig, but I would guess somewhere between 1500 and 2000. The Amfiteatre was a great layout for a show like ours and the crowd were fantastic. The onstage sound was probably the best we’ve had so far (until the end when the radio mics started picking up local talk radio!) and Maggie went down a storm. Gordon shook off his earlier nerves and put on a fantastic performance. We even got a number of ‘Las Vegas intros’ (where the crowd start clapping about 8 bars into the song when they recognize the tune!). In previous shows these only really occur on the hits (Everytime We Touch, Moonlight Shadow, To France etc), but this time we even got them for tunes from the latest album Rowan. I think this bodes well for future shows in Poland….

We had a great time in Poland. A great show,great food, a lovely hotel and some great people. I’m hoping we get invited back to so the Rock Legends festival next year, and hopefully we’ll have some more Polish dates in the near future. 

The next show with Maggie will be at the Somersted Festival in Denmark on August 9th, before our run of Danish shows starting September 24th. Check my MySpace Page for more up to date gig info.

In the meantime, those of you who haven’t yet had a listen to my Solo Bass Podcast, just click on the link and download to your heart’s content. And don’t forget to sign up to my mailing list at Reverb Nation to keep up to date with progress on the solo bass project. Just sign up as a fan and you’ll be automatically added to my mailing list and will also get access to the exclusive download ‘Gentle Rain’.

Until next time….

Simon x

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