Sunday, 13 May 2012

Fruit and bikes and flowers and oil wells

Greetings followers, Hacksaw is in the building...

Mind you, it was a close call. I love a good bike race, but the decision to base the final stage of the Tour de Baku in the centre of the city on the first day of rehearsals caused travel carnage for those of us lazy enough to get cabs in, and led to a near two hour trip around the back alleys of town.

Ordinarily that would have been a bit of a bind - especially in all this heat and mugginess. But this trip was an unexpected treat, as our valiant cabbie found more and more obscure back streets to take us down on his quest to get his charges to the venue. We went up the huge cliff that shadows the eastern side of the city, through an amazing neighbourhood where every crumbling little shack had an dinky oil well in their back garden, and even led us through a dusty lane where we witnessed a street abatoir with our eyes. Well, you wanted local colour..

So it was a welcome site to finally spot the giant flagpole that signals the little promentary that houses the Crystal Hall. And man that thing is huge. It's red, blue and green folds ripple in hefty slow motion with enough fabric to cover Norwich, and still have enough fabric left over for a nice pair of trousers for Bury St Edmunds.

But you don't want to know about that - you want to know what the hall is like. Well, despite having a hive of workers still finishing the thing off around our very feet, the thing is pretty special. Rough and ready, yes, but it's one heck of a space, and still smells like a new kitchen.

The floor is nought but driveway tarmac, and the raised seating is made out of that stuff they build fire escapes from, with seats roughly screwed in in a cheap football stadium kind of fashion, but it's still pretty impressing. For a start, it's considerably wider than the pictures have made it look, and had little walkways and podiums running out into the crowd.

But best of all, the green room is actually at the back of the hall, with a nice little catwalk running the length of the hall to get there. So will the acts be quickly ushered to the big sofas the minute they finish their song, with nary a chance to towel themselves down and avail themselves of the, ahem, fruit and flowers backstage before they show their newly powdered fizogs off to the world again? It would be interesting if they were!

Oh, and if you were wondering about those big pillars obscuring the crowd view - four of the six offer little little visual resistance. But if you're sat at the back they may become more of an issue, as they obscure a good three quarters of the performance area. (But don't worry if that's where your seat is, as you can still clearly see the screens) I've even attached a really badly taken picture to help you visualise it. 

But best of all about this place is the city itself. Take no heed of those naysayers who said a million bad things about the place as they justified themselves a good reason for not coming. This place is beautiful, bonkers, and populated by some of the friendliest, more eager to help people I've ever met. It might still be a bit rough and ready, but the people of this city seem to be genuinely chuffed to have this party going on in their town.

And I'm genuinely chuffed that they invited me.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds great, Roy! I love a bit of an adventure. Looking forward to seeing you.