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Oliver Wakeman Photo

Oliver's Poland DVD filming
A Keyboard Players Tale

Well, I've been back from Poland for some time now and thought it was best to write a report on the show before I forget all the details!

The band and I had a three day trip to Poland to record our first DVD in a beautiful theatre in the heart of Katowitz in Poland. The first day, Tuesday, was traveling, the second was to record the concert and interview with the third day being a travel home day.

Tuesday arrived and the band and I were all making our separate ways to the airport in Luton for an evening flight. I had arranged with Dave the guitarist to come to my house and then we'd travel on together.

Dave arrived on time and after lunch we loaded his traveling gear into my car. He asked if he could park in my driveway whilst we were away - 'not a problem' was my reply but it didn't go particularly smoothly as Dave put the car in reverse and then promptly smacked into my gates and bent them. Fortunately for me, the gates had never closed properly but now, thanks to Dave, they close effortlessly.

Oliver band on stage

The journey to the airport was fun as Dave and I don't get as much time to natter as we'd like and so the time passed quickly right up to the point that we realised we'd gone to the wrong Airport car park!

Eventually we found the right place and made our way to the terminal where we met up with the other guys and their partners who were accompanying us on the trip. Another positive after the gate incident was that Paul Manzi (singer) had managed to get to the airport without getting stopped by the police which seems to be happening with much too much frequency these days! Must be the hair.....

We were due to fly to Poland on the early evening flight and arrive in time for a late meal before getting a good nights sleep before 'show' day. Unfortunately the flight was delayed and with the hour difference (they are ahead by an hour) we didn't arrive at the hotel until very late that evening.

We all booked into our rooms except for the few who decided to find a bar. Pretty much everyone, except me....and when they realised that there was nowhere open, and having woken me to tell me, we all decided to take a walk to the theatre to see where we would be playing the following day (or later that day really as it was about 1am!).

After a short 1/2 mile walk we found the location for the concert. The theatre was a lovely old building which looked as if it would be a great venue to play. We were not to be disappointed! After taking a few photographs of the theatre and of ourselves being 'rock stars(!)' on the steps outside we decided that a good nights sleep would be a good thing.

Oliver on stage
Paul Manzi on stage

Having said that a good nights sleep was what the people who had rooms at the back of the hotel got.

The people at the front were woken up regularly by the trams going up and down the road all night. Luckily nearly all the band had rooms at the back with 2 exceptions. I was one of the two.....

Early next morning we all met for breakfast and decided to get to the theatre and catch up with the other acts on the bill and make sure all our equipment had arrived safely from the UK. After a quick check up we found that everything seemed present and correct and we got to meet up with lots of old friends who were also playing at the theatre that evening.

One of the bands was Pallas who I hadn't met before but, as we were sharing a dressing room with them, by the end of the night we were old friends.

Clive Nolan (who I wrote Jabberwocky and Hound of the Baskervilles with) was performing his rock opera that evening as well and his band consisted of lots of people I knew very well. So a lot of chatting and catching up was done!

During the afternoon I had to record an interview for the DVD which was very enjoyable and then, following a meal, we had to set up our equipment and sound check. We also got our first taste of the stage and how the theatre looked from that perspective. It does have to be said that if it was a lovely building from the outside, then it is a beautiful building from the inside, almost like a mini Albert Hall (in the UK).

We finished sound checking and made our way to the dressing rooms hoping that we'd be able to put in a performance that would do us proud and give the audience a night to remember. Although there is always the DVD!

Dave Pearce on stage

As our sound check wasn't very long (due to time constraints) it seemed that we only had enough time to get back to the dressing room and get changed before we were heading back on to the stage again! We got ourselves into position and then the lights went up...

We started with Don't Come Running from my Mother's Ruin album and worked through nearly all of the tracks from that album. We also included tracks from Hound of the Baskervilles and Jabberwocky in the set as well. I felt quite honoured when I introduced tracks from Jabberwocky and Hound and the audience cheered before I'd even played a note. These guys knew the material and were as excited about it as we were!

One song of particular note for me was the track 'Mother's Ruin'. The album version is a full on progressive piece with orchestra parts, choirs, samples etc. You name it, it's got it in there. For the live show we play this song as a stripped down acoustic song which I feel has no less impact because of its lighter arrangement. This is the only recorded version of this song and I am really proud of the way this song came out on the night.

Well the set went really quickly and we came off stage to thunderous applause - and were quickly pushed back on again by the executive producer for an encore. We finished the night with the track 'Coming to Town' which featured a fun soloing section which is different to the album version.

I won't go into all the details of the show as the DVD will tell the story better than I ever could but we felt that we had turned in a worthy performance of which we could be proud. Excitedly we made our way to the dressing room and all had a well earned drink! We then decided it would be nice to go to the front of the theatre and chat to anyone who wanted to say hello.

The response is still something I don't think I will ever forget. We were literally swamped by well wishers and fans, some who had travelled hundreds if not thousands of miles for the show. We must have spent well over a hour chatting, signing and having photos taken. The band and I felt very honoured by the good wishes and comments people were giving us. It really finished off a wonderful evening.

By the end of the evening we had to help load all the gear back onto the van for it to be transported back to the UK. We then headed back to the hotel trying to decide what we were going to do before our flight left at 3 the following afternoon.

Oliver and Dave Pearce on stage

We decided that it was too good an opportunity to miss by not trying to see some of Poland before we went home. So at 6 the following morning, after 4 hours sleep, we all made our way to the train station and with the help of a guide book we bought return tickets to Krakow.

At this point I must thank the young girl on the train who was most gracious with her help translating our tickets, explaining how the system worked and telling us what train to catch to get back in time! We don't know your name but if by some chance you ever read this - thank you!

We arrived in Krakow to almost silence. We then realised we had arrived on the All souls day where they honour their dead. The only shops open were a few small gift sellers, coffee shops and flower stalls. It would be difficult to describe how the day made us feel and it was obviously a very poignant day for the Polish people and we felt honoured to have witnessed the day first hand.

Krakow is a beautiful city with some wonderful architecture and we had a very enjoyable morning looking around and taking pictures. We also had a very nice lunch at a beautiful old restaurant, it seemed to have been unchanged since the 40's and was like stepping back in time.

I then had time to buy my wife and son some gifts before we made our way back to the train station. Following the long train ride back to Katowice (which we passed the time by listening to Paul Browns digital recorder of the show) and after a mad taxi dash through the town we arrived at the airport just in time to hear our flight had been delayed!

Oliver clapping on stage

We eventually boarded and after a short taxi ride to the runway we received an announcement from the captain.


He explained that the flight would be delayed again because the vehicle which pushed the plane onto the runway would not detach itself. Luckily the captain 'knew someone who had some tools.......'

After about an hour (and several updates from the captain...!) we took off and after a couple of hours arrived back in the Uk and prepared for the drive home.

All in all I can honestly say that the guys and I really enjoyed our trip to Poland and hope that the pleasure we had performing in Poland comes across on the DVD. We hope you enjoy watching it!

Oliver Wakeman
March 2008

All photos used with kind permission of Pawel Filipiak

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