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Throwback to a fantastic concert in Mariupol

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March 17, 2022
In the spring of 2016, Serhij Zhadan & Sobaky released the album “Psy”. I played and sang on some pieces, and a joint festival tour was planned for the summer. That didn’t work out, but when Serhiy suggested doing some concerts in Donbass, I immediately said yes.

I’m flying to Kharkiv to rehearse with the band. I am accompanied by a good friend from Berlin, the director Marcus Welsch, who wants to document the tour with his camera. The organization is pure chaos, nobody knows exactly where and when we should play.

The roads are broken, the tanks arrived here in recent years.

But at some point it becomes clear that with Zhadan & Sobaky, a true cultural caravan will be on the way with various bands and poets. Among other things, the Papa Karlo band should be there. Crazy, I shared the stage with these guys at one of my first concerts in October 1992. 24 years later we should meet again!

Our first destination is Mariupol. As a seasoned touring musician, I prepared myself for the journey: an exciting book, a fully loaded laptop. When my band is away, I watch movies and answer emails during long hours on the freeway. I can also sleep well on the bus, sometimes even better than in my own bed.

We leave Kharkiv and I soon realize: none of this is possible. The streets are through the ass, they haven’t been renewed for a long time. In recent years, tanks have also been passing through here, my Ukrainian colleagues tell me. Marcus tries to film but it’s not easy, his hand shakes, our bus shakes all the time. Also, it is extremely warm. We finally reached Mariupol.

[Alle aktuellen Entwicklungen im Ukraine-Krieg können Sie hier in unserem Newsblog verfolgen.]

I send a message to Masha, an old friend from college. She grew up here, but now lives in the US, her parents are still here. I am writing that you should invite them to our concert. We made an appointment with Andrij, whom I met in Berlin a few years before, he lives in kyiv but is currently visiting his father in Mariupol. We meet up before sound check, he shows Marcus and me around town.

Punk exhausted after the concert.Photo: Yevgeny Sosnovsky

The concert will take place at Platforma Tu. I heard a lot about this place, it’s new: a cultural center, an art gallery, a club. The concert we give there is one of the best of my musical career. The sound is terrible, everything is humming and humming, you can’t hear any instruments, but it’s still fantastic.

I feel like this isn’t about the melodies or the rhythm, it’s not about the virtuosity, it’s not even about the lyrics, which you probably won’t hear either, it’s about the exchange of energy and it works beautifully. To this day I still have on my mobile a photo of a young punk from Mariupol in a perfect Mohican, half naked, lying on the floor of Platforma Tu after our concert, completely exhausted.

[Alle aktuellen Nachrichten zum russischen Angriff auf die Ukraine bekommen Sie mit der Tagesspiegel-App live auf ihr Handy. Hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen.]

These are my memories of a day in Mariupol. To Mariupol, where today, six years later, it is said that there are hardly any residential buildings in good condition. Where people have barely been able to get out of the basement for weeks because there’s shelling going on all the time. Al Mariupol without electricity and without heating. To Mariupol, where it’s minus five degrees at night. Neither Andriy nor Masha have heard from their parents for weeks.
Russian warship, fuck you!

Read the other parts of Yuriy Gurzhy’s war diary here:

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