Our arrival in Lvov was a bit insane, a huge bus trying to navigate ridiculously narrow streets and turns in order to get us to the National Philharmonic Hall. Eventually it became necessary to just unload the people and equipment and walk several blocks over icy sidewalks to make it to the venue. The space was huge, bigger than the last auditorium where the Vandermark 5 had performed two years earlier. Banners hung from most of the balconies, ads for batteries and other products, most of which I didn’t understand. Behind the ensemble was an enormous (50 meters tall?) reproduction of my portrait. Below that image were a couple of dozen pixilated shots of the other members in the band. Put mildly, it felt pretty odd to have my enormous face glaring down over my saxophone at the band while we set up onstage.
Sound check was crazy- the first time to correctly position the group, a run through of the most difficult passages of the charts in a space with completely different acoustics to contend with… In addition, the show was going to be recorded, so there were line checks and PA issues to sort out. Before going onstage for the gig, I talked through the arrangements with the band one last time. Though we had been rehearsing all week there were tons of information for everyone to remember. The first set was a bit tough- it’s one thing to work on a piece of music knowing that you can stop at any point if there’s a problem, it’s quite another to realize that you have to deliver on the promise that this is a concert for listeners who have also made an effort to be there. Even so, we got through the music pretty well and played pretty decently. The audience was amazing, almost 800 people were there and they responded with total enthusiasm, dealing with all the twists, turns, and demands of our music with open ears.
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