Saturday, June 14, 2008

You say you want a revolution

As I walked down to the Maidan Nezalezhnosti metro stop to head to the office this morning there were a couple of things I noticed as I walked down by the Conservatory. There were all these barricades up from just below Mr. Snack... not that all of you know where that is, but if you do it will help you orient yourself geographically. As I walked closer to Maidan I could hear music from the conservatory, some discordant arpeggios, some trombone and some woman's voice! I thought for a second and the Lennon/McCartney song which I have titled this blog entry came to my head.

I thought back to a week ago when the semi's rolled in and the cranes were assembling the stage, and let me tell you its a kick-ass stage, I'm sure the first one of its type in Ukraine. For the last three days Khreshchatyk in front of Maidan has been closed to traffic, and finally its the big day. Paul McCartney will be playing in Kyiv. As I got closer to the entrance to the metro, the barricades began to remind me more and more of what I saw on Bankova on those November and December days of 2004, but there was no (R)evolution going on. Though no riot geared goons but a lot of smartly uniformed security watching the perimeter from the stage... At least 60 meters is barricaded off. What I guess is that one the VIP zones is set up on the other side of Khreschatyk, barricades run parallel with the curb two rows deep. While I couldn't see any seating closer to the stage I'm sure that that has been set aside for the special VIP members of Ukrainian society. Yes, nothing like bring one of the legends of contemporary music to Ukraine and closer to Ukraine's people, Mr. Pinchuk!

Well Mr. Pinchuk you have done it again... First Sir Elton now Sir Paul, you are trying to change your world, your Ukraine and the way people see you. "We all want to change the world." But everyone knows how you got your money, that is not a secret here, though Sir Paul may not be aware of it. You tell us that its evolution, but that actually happened in 2004. So you Mr. Pinchuk are mistaken!

Last night as we drove from the Riffmaster gig, I could hear the clearest sound of music coming from Maidan, in fact I could hear it from European Square as if it were right in the vehicle we were driving in. After seeing what I had seen this morning I thought about whether I really wanted to be right there on Maidan to see Sir Paul McCartney live...

I thought about it for some time, and then came to a conclusion. I will not even make an attempt to be on Maidan to see Sir Paul McCartney live on Maidan in what is dubbed as his Independence Concert. Easy for you Mr. P it was Ukraine's independence which allowed you to accumulate what you have, then you hired some nice suits to take care of you and sanitize you and your money. Dang, I have digressed...

So why will I not be there to see Sir Paul live. Firstly, I despise the rudeness of most Ukrainians who attend such free events who haven't an inkling of knowledge about music, nor manners. Secondly, Maidan to me is a symbol, that goes back to the student hunger strike of 1990, and then the protests of Ukraine without Kuchma, and the events of 2004. Actually the reconstruction of Maidan during the UBK protests and the real estate that was to be developed underneath, in my estimation was an attempt to change the vision of what the square looked like from those early protests of 1990, and also for the incumbent mayor at the time to line his pockets with some money. But I digress... When I had to be out there I was there along with thousands of other Ukrainians back in 2004, those who clearly know how Mr. Pinchuk made his money.

Ah the expected rain has started... whether it will continue for another 9 hours is uncertain, but this is one more reason to not go to the show tonight. Besides, there won't be a rain check. You lose Mr. Pinchuk.

I'm not sure how much the concert tonight is costing Mr.Pinchuk, but like concerts in the past on Maidan they are broadcast live, so I can sit and watch it in the comfort of some local with friends, a bevy and no people stepping all over me. The people out tonight will not be of the same ilk as those who were out in 2004.

Besides, given that the concert is being broadcast on Noviy Kanal, owned by Pinchuk, I'm sure that the concert isn't going to really cost him all that much. The advertising revenues for the broadcast, I estimate that they will be about at least USD 30K per minute, will probably cover a good part of his costs and increase his channel's ratings.

With everything this oligarch is trying to do to improve his image not a soul who is at the concert tonight will in three years remember who brought McCartney to Kyiv, nor will they give a damn. So if Mr. P is really trying to turn into a philanthropist I'm going to ask him the same questions that were put to the politicians of the time by Lennon and McCartney:

"You say you got a real solution
Well you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well you know
We're doing what we can"

So Mr. P, its easy for you to flaunt what you stole from the people of this country... but give it back to those who need it most... Not to your image, nor to your media holdings. While, I will probably watch the concert on Noviy Kanal... I will have to remind you Mr. P... I will make a note of the advertisers during the show and make every attempt not to purchase their products...


  1. This is a really great post on the "backside" of what goes on behind the free concerts......I kind of found it disconcerting last year when only VIP's could get close to the stage to see Elton John so I opted to stay home. (also because of the rain) I felt I could see it better on TV. Plus I have already seen Paul in concert.

    I was surprised this year to see so many people standing close to the stage who seemed to be real fans. Did they actually let people come in to get close to the stage this year? I couldn't tell with the rain. I also noticed many knew the words of the songs.

    Well.....I enjoyed it from home and it will be interesting to see who will play for free next year! :)

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  3. Michelle,

    What goes on behind the scenes and the politics of the industry are something that we have to try to understand if we are going to make heads or tails of where Ukraine's music industry is right now.

    I watched the concert where I could be warm and dry, although I did get soaked leaving the office, and getting to that location, where I met a journalist friend who said she was already so wet that she was going out to the concert anyhow, but that was only after she dried off someone and had some mulled wine to warm up.

    She told me that some of our journalist friends had confirmation that some VIP's were actually purchasing their spots for as much as $5000 USD a piece, though it was a lot less evident to see where the VIP zone was. Where at the Sir Elton concert the camera work was done in such a way that VIPs always got some camera time his year the camera work at the concert for the broadcast did not focus as much as they did on VIP's as they did last year. However, the inclement weather may have played its role in this.

    Some of the comments I heard on TV from people like former President Leonid Kuchma were somewhat surprising, "I use to listen to Beatles records!" True there were Beatles records here though usually released by Melodia the State run record company, but at the same time there were plenty of progressive musicians and music fans who were not encouraged to perform nor listen to new music. It really shows the hypocrisy of what the system was and what it still is today.

    As for fans getting close to the stage, that was more of an illusion of the camera work. The closest fans actually got to the stage was probably about 25-25 meters.

    Michelle, the fact they many new the words comes as little surprise to me, though what they knew were primarily Beatles songs and not as much the songs that Paul had done with Wings.

    One other reason I didn't attend the concert is crowd safety. While it is an important issue at any such large gathering, this number of people in such an enclosed area are disasters waiting to happen, and they happened due to crowd crush.

  4. Great post, Vasyl.

    To cheer yourself up, I recommend reading The Long Tail. But, whatever you do, don't let it get into the hands of the oligarchs ... or, more importantly, their advisers. If it does, tho, just pretend you don't believe it.

  5. Enjoyed reading your take on this matter Vasyl. I for one would probably have gone out to the concert, weather permitting!!! :-)) Buy to every storm their is a rainbow at the end of the tunnel. I think we do need such concerts to bring people to the realization of what democracy is all about. Certainly no such concert in the Soviet Union would have ever come to fruition. So young and old had the opportunity to gather and forget about their troubles and hardships and enjoy a jolly olde concert by Sir Paul. Maybe, even some people had pondered on the issues of today facing Ukraine and came to a realization that going ahead isn't such a bad idea.

  6. You hit the nail on the head, Vasyl!

    Now I know I'm not the only one who produced no declaration of love for Ukraine's oligarchy.

  7. Taras,

    I think you and I are not the only one's with such a view towards this country's oligarchs. It's just that not everyone voices their opinions.