News Tour Diary: The Victorian English Gentlemens Club & We Are The Physics

Last week saw We Are The Physics and The Victorian English Gentlemens Club decamp together for two Russian gigs - firstly in Moscow on 25th November, and the following day in St Petersburg. Here, TVEGC’s Louise Mason recalls the weekend’s activities for us.

We arrive in Moscow at night time and are driven straight to the club for litres of Russian beer. We Are The Physics sleep in a child prison masquerading as a hostel, while we’re forced to sleep in the promoters luxury apartment. He drunkenly gives me a guitar and in the morning serenades us over breakfast playing his self-playing, remote control white grand piano from the jacuzzi.

A quick cold tour around Christmassy Moscow, (decorations up since 15th November, enforced by Russian law) then Michael M and Chris Physics and Adam and I are interviewed for TNT - the national Russian television channel. Michael gets accused of not being a ‘true punk’ by the TV presenter as he’s wearing a grey jumper. I suffer plenty of girl-ism, not for the first time over the trip… They ask how it’s possible to have 16 children (obviously I do as I’m a girl) and play music at the same time.

We get to soundcheck at 5pm, soundcheck at 10pm and play at 10.03pm. It’s big and ace and loud and we have a twelve-second stage invasion. We break the news to some child fans that have travelled 7-and-a-half hours from St Petersburg that we’re playing in St Petersburg the following night.

The gig runs late so there’s fun 100mph Range Rover driving through Moscow at midnight in time to pile onto our night train to St. Petersburg. There already a Russian in a Physics member’s bed, but our Russian promoter first bribes with many Roubles, then violent threats until he leaves. After lots of loud noises and Russian swearing we all sleep like foetuses in the big metallic Russian womb of the night train. We arrive in St Petersburg at dawn and get taken to a hotel with no running water for good hot showers. Adam asks ten thousand too many fast questions and confuses Russia.

Non tactfully refusing a trip to the Hermitage with our MA Art Historian guide, we instead ask to go to the KunstKamera - Peter the Great’s Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. I see my very first cyclops piglet foetus, there’s plenty of tiny small conjoined faces and limbs in jars.

We get to the venue which is an astoundingly huge Art Gallery, and we play in a contemporary painting exhibition. During pre-gig Irish pints, we realise we’re meant to be on stage in eight minutes so our new Russian friends flag a ‘car’. we assume they mean a cab - but they mean a car - a Lada 1500 in this case, and five of us pile in the back. The driver explains to us that all he needs is his car and his wife to make him the happiest man alive. Hope he doesn’t need the suspension, as we definitely broke it.

It’s my favourite gig ever, deadly awkward silences between songs and amazing white room reverb. We Are The Physics are nervous about playing the gallery, but they’re astoundingly good and brilliant and loud. A Russian Rolling Stone man has travelled from Malta especially to see them. Back to the bar and too much drink, a Russian insults my authentic hat and calls me a thick English tourist ‘Girl’, so I challenge him first to a vodka drinking competition then an arm wrestle. Luckily we’re late again for the night train so we have to make a very rapid exit.

We’re back in Moscow by daybreak. Under deep protests form our guide, on Sunday we’re proper tourists - head to Red Square, buy tat, eat Borscht and head off on our respective planes back to Britain. Incredible trip - a dream come true.

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