Ukraine: early starts, language barriers and indescribable food
Well it's 5am and the boys have just turned up, so off to Luton Airport we go. We had some issues last night with the promoter having only booked four items of holding luggage and not even asking us how much gear we are bringing with us - crazy!
Poster for Jayce Lewis' concert in Kiev
We arrive at the airport and discover you have to pay £2 for a trolley, and even to drop stuff off at arrivals is £1 - this is eating into our beer money, I miss Heathrow BIG TIME! We arrive at Kiev wearing the thickest jumpers, woolly hats and gloves, only to discover it's warmer here than in the UK.
We are greeted at the airport by Yougin the promoter and festival owners who swiftly get us in to the cars and to the hotel. The traffic in Kiev is unlike anything I have seen - dare I say I think it's equally as bad as in India. There is no traffic law, everyone is barging in and driving on the wrong side of the road to get past, yet when there is a zebra crossing all the cars stop and pull off slowly. This place is insane!
When we get to the hotel, a very nice place but seems to be in the middle of nowhere, Yougin tells us that we are on the one and only national music channel breakfast show... at 6am. I have to perform Icon without the band along to a playback CD of the track, which none of us are happy about. We eventually agree to do playback but with live keyboards and live vocals.
We walk around trying to find a restaurant or fast food joint and find nothing accept a very posh looking building at the end of the road, which turns out to be a pub. We walk in and there is a table with girls (all smoking) and nothing else except some rather big guns on the wall and funny looking wallpaper. A waiter runs up to us asking stuff in Ukrainian.
I ask if he speaks English, but he doesn't even know what I'm saying. This is going to be a long night! Eventually he gets one of the girls to come over and translate for us. She doesn't really speak much English but more than him. The menus is indescribable and eventually we settle for chips (fried potato) and something called hunters sausage... along with a load of beer.
We get our call at 5am. We get ready then try to fit our two keyboards and five people in the smallest car I have ever been in. The television building is a very impressive place surrounded by gates and cameras - this feels more like home! Inside I am confronted by the most attractive girls I have ever seen, all running around and not smiling. I get put into a dressing room and they slap on some matting make up. I am truly dreading this performance.
Performing on Ukrainian television
The studio looks and sounds like something out of Eurovision. However, the people are really excited to have us there and look after us by giving us the strongest coffee ever. They do a big presentation and lead in to my performance. I feel so uncomfortable at first, but the people in the studio are all enjoying it and really getting into what they hear.
So I loosen up and feel like I'm back on stage again. When we finish we do the interview, with a translator called Sasha. I am only now really waking up and find the interview so funny, the presenters are great and I have a great time. Afterwards we head back to the hotel where we get some rest and get ready for the show tonight.
The post-performance interview
A lovely lady by the name of Daria comes to get us at around 5pm. She pretty much takes over everything for us as there has been a lot of confusion and big errors made by the promoter which really did upset us all. We head into the to the venue, Sullivan Rooms, which is in a gorgeous building with a big stage and an awesome sound system.
At the soundcheck the language barrier is a constant issue, but we get through it with me eventually mixing it out front and saving all the settings. It sounds big, clear and powerful. The show starts at 11pm and we take to the stage at 12.
Although the sound on stage is a struggle we have a great show. The crowd is awesome and people move in ways I have not seen humans move before. Afterwards everyone pretty much piles into our dressing room wanting photos. There is a guy constantly buying us vodka and I don't remember much from that point onwards.
The next day - our last - we get shown around the city. What a beautiful place Kiev is, the buildings are amazing and the culture is very reserved but welcoming. We spot a McDonald's, inside which even the women serving look like they should be on the catwalk. We eat the saltiest fries known to man but have instant recognition of this food - we are happy! Martin the bass player goes on the hunt for vodka and buys loads of bottles, which later leads to issues at the airport because of weight issues.
Ukraine - an awesome place, lovely people, insane food - and in need of a traffic system on the roads.