This month's "Boot of the Month" is Rory's performances at Sala Kongresowa in Warsaw, Poland on September 3, 1976. This is Rory's first ever performance in the former soviet block nation.
The Sala Kongresowa, or Congress Hall, is a 3-tiered 2,800 seat capacity, domed amphitheatre that lies below the imposing edifice of the Palace of Culture and Science. The Palace of Culture and Science is a Stalinist era behemoth that stands 231 meters in height and can be seen from over 30km away. It is the tallest building in Poland and 4th largest in the European Union. Commissioned by Stalin as a "gift" to the Polish people, and perhaps as a reminder of Russia's controlling presence in the nation, it was originally intended to serve as the Communist Party Headquarters, but now contains museums, theatres, concert halls, and the likes. It was here in 1967 at the Sala Kongresowa that the Rolling Stones became one of the first rock bands to perform behind the Iron Curtain -- at the height of the cold war tensions. Visiting Soviet officials were not pleased by their performance and it would be a long while before the Stones would return to the soviet-bloc nations.
"They thought the show was so awful, so decadent, that they said this would never happen in Moscow,"-- Mick Jagger.
In an article in Rolling Stone magazine titled, "Would you believe?...the Polish Rock 'n Roll scene", writer Tomasz Wielski boasted that Polish authorities had always taken a more liberal approach to youth culture, more so than other eastern block countries. Warsaw became a hot spot for this burgeoning rock scene, and in the fall of 1976, Rory and his band were invited to play 3 concert dates in Poland -- in Katowice, in Gdansk, and at the Sala Kongresawa in Warsaw. Having just completed work on his latest album, 'Calling Card' at the Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany, Rory makes his first and only foray into the soviet bloc nation. It would be a venture neither he or his bandmates would soon forget.
"Well, we were invited. I don't know why us. But a group calling itself the Polish Jazz Society asked us over. I thought, why the hell not? Maybe we'll play Russia next year. We're negotiating deals with cultural groups in Vladivostok and Moscow. Playing Warsaw wasn't that much different from a large concert hall. The kids were awfully quiet, though. Very attentive and extremely polite." -- Rory Gallagher, excerpt from May '77 issue of 'Rock' magazine.
Many years later, in an interview by Jakob Mulder for a Rory Gallagher fanzine, former drummer for the Rory Gallagher Band, Rod D'Ath, recalls what it was like to play in Poland during those times.
"That I remember all too well. We did 3 or 4 concerts in Warsaw and Gdansk, if I am not mistaken. The audience was brilliant. They had not seen and heard anything like us before, were quiet during the shows and applauded immensely after the songs & concerts. After the shows, many of the people came backstage to thank us for our concert. From 18 til 'what have-you'-olds. That was very moving. The last concert was attended mainly by people from former East Germany, who came to Poland in coaches, hundreds and hundreds of them, because we were not allowed to play over there. Probably the Polish government had made a deal with East German government. That concert was a very emotional event and everyone came backstage, lined up and shook hands with us and had tears in their eyes. Our visit in Poland got into many rock magazines, even in Rolling Stone. "-- Rod D'Ath, excerpt from 'Signals' fanzine 1997
On September 3, 1976, 32 years after the famous "Warsaw Uprising" that attempted to free Warsaw from the yoke of German tyranny, Rory Gallagher and his band come to the Sala Kongresowa and showed Warsaw an uprising of a different nature.
|Paul Hamburg||Postd at 3:22pm on Wednesday, March 17th, 2010|
|i was there actually, what a fantastic concert. I was 18 in this year.I'm still thinking abuot this|
music and so on....