Neutral in Switzerland
July 24-27 2003
So, we've returned home in the end. Switzerland is an ordinary place, as the rest of European lands. No, I couldn't live as these Europeans do. The system has given them the material well-being, but has taken their freedom away. The people live in the golden cages, which they cannot escape from. However, some Swiss find an exit - Switzerland, as I heard, leads quantitatively of suicides, and there is nothing surprising in that fact. The Europeans are terribly hog-tied by their own rules and restrictions. I've seen the sterile-clean streets and general, total well-being, I've also seen nature, deprived of peculiar aromas and smells, everything is so strange, so artificial and unnatural... And glory to the gods, that in Russia everything is quite different, and I hope, that Russia will remain Russia...
Well, now actually about the trip and the concert of Neutral.
I think, it is necessary to begin this story with the fact that the idea of this concert has started up about one year ago. Sylvie Pereira Fernandes (Portuguese, by the way) has sent to ASH the letter about an opportunity for the group to arrange a performance in Switzerland next (2003) year. Both sides were in active correspondence during last year, and the preparation for the trip began in June. It was supposed initially, that the concert would be held in one of the Swiss castles, namely in the castle of Neuchatel, however, in Europe, especially in Switzerland, there reigns a great suspiciousness towards the dark folk groups: that's why it was necessary to search for another scene, and it has appeared to be a church in Boudry village, nearby Neuchatel.
To my surprise, we didn't have any troubles with reception of the visas, they were made but in a few days.
Early in the morning, July 24, we gathered at the airport Sheremetyevo-2 and everything seemed to be wonderful, but suddenly Noel's violin turned out to be a problem - the customs refused to let the instrument out abroad, and thus we had to leave it in a left-luggage office and to ask Sylvie to find another one.
Arriving in Zurich, we didn't find our hosts and went anxious a little. But glory to the gods, they came soon, the people in black - Sylvie and her friend Bertrand - to tell the truth, I didn't assume, that the organizers would turn out to be Goths. However, there was nothing defiant in their costumes and hairdresses.
We got into a microbus and went to Zurich. We didn't like the city - ordinary large European capital, cold and lifeless, besides the heavy rainfall began. We planned to glance in a sole large shop with "dark music", but then, because of some reasons, including the rain, we had to refuse shopping.
Well, further on was a road, running by the countless fields, the houses with tile roofs, - landscapes typical for Europe. We arrived in Neuchatel in two hours and came to the apartment of Bertrand and Sylvie. Actually, it didn't impress me much with it's size- it is rather usual for Moscow, the contents however have turned out to be amusing. In the drawing room two walls are occupied with racks full of compact discs - the huge collection of dark music. Basically it was gothic-rock, but there was also a lot of dark folk, industrial. Of course, there we found some CD's of our groups - Moon Far Away, Neutral, Romowe Rikoito. A huge quantity of small Gothic items, photos, pictures is stuck, scattered and hung up in all corners of the apartment.
We was treated with the Swiss beer, which, expectedly, appeared delightful, especially dark Mandragore...
I think, it is not necessary to describe further events in full details - I'll content myself with general descriptions of our adventures. Next day our company with Bertrand and Sylvie set off to mountains Creux-du-Van, it was a beautiful, unforgettable trip, royal rocks and downfalls impressed all of us very much. As we've found out later - the place we visited is a Place of Power, which influence is especially shown at dawn and sunset. We were there in the afternoon, unfortunately. We tried a local dish "fondue" - I did not think at all, that it can be so tasty - slices of bread, dipped in molted cheese. It could seem to be elementary, but in Moscow preparing "fondue" on one's own is quite uneasy thing. Except for mountains, we visited an old family cemetery, went for a walk in Neuchatel by night and generally spent our time very well...
July 26 we arrived in Boudry at last and faced the church, in which Neutral 've had to perform. Our best expectations were justified - it was a decent and pleasant Gothic building with excellent acoustics and all relying internal church attributes. The musicians were absolutely delighted - in such place with natural reverberation it was possible to perform easily even without electricity. However monitors and mixer panel were there all the same. The sound engineer, as we were told, had spent during his way to Boudry 20 hours. Soundcheck passed without any problems, the professionalism of the sound engineer deserves the highest praises.
By 9 o'clock in the evening people began to gather, there were basically Swiss Goths, however some dark folkers came shortly before the concert and I was certainly very glad about that fact. It was my first meeting with western colleagues. There was Antoine (DJ Antz) among them, from neo-folk webzine SoleiNoir - I recognized him on a photo, which I had seen on his site. Unfortunately, we had not much time for conversation, but all the same it has left most pleasant memoirs.
Sylvie came on the stage and announced the beginning of the concert, and thanked all Swiss friends, who had taken part in preparation of arrival of Russian group in Switzerland.
Neutral played almost a complete program that time- 15 songs, for approximately 80 minutes. One of the compositions ("Noone to Follow") was completely new, written not so long ago by vocalist of the group, ASH, and prepared by the musicians specially for this concert. The group has played as known hits - "Russian Saga", "Ride On", "Sheath and Knife", "Cold Iron", as also some new, very beautiful melancholic compositions created by the group in the last half a year. The audience was magnificent - nobody talked and all the more laughed during the performance, the people came to listen to music - and they received it. Neutral more than justified the expectations of the people, who had come to the concert - enthusiastic responses in a conference of the Swiss Gothic resource Sanctuary are confirmation of that. I shot the concert on a videocamera, and sometimes turning away from the view-finder, looked at the public - people were simply stunned and experienced real ecstasy. Hot applause accompanied the end of each composition.
After " Russian Saga " the musicians left behind the scenes, and the people patiently sat and waited - alas, their hopes were not justified, the group decided to finish the performance, while the people would like to hear some more of this beautiful music.
If to speak about Neutral performances for all their concert history, I would mark as the best three of them - concert at Luisenkirche, Koenigsberg, 2000, concert at fort Stein, Koenigsberg, 2003 and this concert in Switzerland. Alas - in Moscow I can't choose any total-lot successful performance of the group.
Undoubtedly, this concert in Switzerland is a very important experience for Neutral. Let's hope, that this performance will be followed by other offers to play in the West.
Hearty thanks to Sylvie, Bertrand, Christina and to all of those, who have organized the first arrival of Russian dark folk in Western Europe. Thanks for your carrying us in Switzerland, for feeding and giving us a drink - a whole-heartedly thank you. And certainly thanks to everybody, who came to the concert in Boudry.
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