July 18, 2011

Report: Alan Wilder in Prague 2010

It's more than a two years now when British sound genius and well-known creator and pioneer of typical Depeche Mode sound Mr. Alan Wilder as well as the face - brain - heart and soul of the Recoil project grace us with his visit. Or, if you want, the main man who represents this project. Let's remember together his last visit in Czech Republic.

Saturday April 17th, 2010

The first concert tour in Recoil history included of course the stop in Prague (CZE). Alan came from the previous gig in Budapest (HUN) on Saturday around 3:00 p.m. and immediately after arrival he was accommodated in Boscolo hotel in the Senovážné square. Then he moved to KC Vltavská where the evening concert took its place. Alan and his team did sound-check and Alan was giving interviews in the backstage for some of the local radio and TV stations, newspapers and magazines. The announced program had promised a special guest - front-man of legendary EBM band Nitzer Ebb and one of the Recoil’s albums guest vocalists – Douglas McCarthy. Prague should have been one of just a few stops where Douglas should have performed. But on April 14th all airways above Europe were closed. Millions of passengers got stuck at airports and loss of airlines grew up to enormous numbers. The case was a cloud of volcano dust blown up into the atmosphere in the third eruption of Icelandic volcano with strange name Eyjafjallajokull which had suddenly awakened after two hundred years and which was also the case of cancellation of the Client’s concert, originally planned on April 19th. In near future we probably won’t delight our senses with girls of Client, which you may know as a supporting act at Depeche Mode and as the appreciated discovery of Andy Fletcher’s label Toast Hawaii, because the band split up and nowadays is without a singer.

These eruptions frightened inhabitants of Iceland and showed us that our planet isn’t big enough and that these geologically active places can affect life of all of us.

Even on Saturday before midday still wasn’t clear if Douglas manage to arrive to Prague or not. Unfortunately to the great disappointment of all of us he didn’t and the only thing remembering him was a sticker with his name on the door of the empty cloakroom. Alan himself was travelling from Budapest by car and his presence in Prague wasn’t endangered.

The evening program started with Michal Pavlíček & Monika Načeva as a supporting act chosen by Alan Wilder himself. Monika and Michal arrived first at approximately 3:00 p. m. and immediately started with the sound check. Soon after Alan and his girlfriend Brit Rinde Hval and his music-mate Paul Kendall arrived. Britt except the other things looked also after ongoing preparations. She travels with Alan not only as his partner but also as his assistant. She was interested in all contexts of the concerts and she even authorized the exchange rate for the merchandise stand.

Alan greeted all who worked on the concert preparations at first, then walked through the whole area of Vltavská cultural centre and started with the sound-check. Alan doesn’t use other musicians except Paul K., all music is played only from two laptops and final sound of his concerts is live affected with mixing software and equalizers but it allows joining live musician or singer as well. Important part of Alan’s performance is also video projection. The Recoil performance is audio-visual multimedia show and so the widescreen dominates the stage arrangement with just Alan’s & Paul’s keyboards on the right side. The projections are work of Igor Dvorský (Lakeside X’s drummer) who shot most of them in Prague and its surroundings.

The entry gig of Michal Pavlíček and Monika Načeva was well received and reaped the success from the audience. Meanwhile Alan was giving interviews for mass-media including the interview for the main Czech TV channel. Playlist of Prague’s concert was based on album “Selected” so most of the songs were from “subhuman”, “Liquid” and “Unsound Methods” albums added with one track from the album “Bloodline”. All songs were significantly changed from their original versions. Moreover it’s wasn’t just a stream of separated songs known from the albums but it was a monolithic set including longer or shorter interwoven parts of different versions and remixes but still recognizable as Recoil music. In this new sound-coat were the songs connected in one unit that sometimes you couldn’t recognize each song at first but it really doesn’t matter. Actually you could listen to album versions at home. Recoil’s performance included two non-Recoil songs – Depeche Mode’s “Never let me down again (Aggro mix)” and “Warm Leatherette” by The Normal. The Normal used to be a Daniel Miller’s one-man-project and this single holds the catalogue number MUTE001 – the very first recording ever published by the Mute records company. The audience welcomed every song by clapping their hands nevertheless it was “Never let me down again” that reached the biggest ovation. The reason was that vast majority of people was there not for Recoil but for the ex-Depeche Mode member. The Prague’s concert was in the first part of the tour so Alan may have seemed to be a bit stage-frightened almost shy. He was only used to studio-work in last 17 years and weaned from the contact with the audience. Except the greeting with the audience in the beginning he was focused only on his computer and machines during his performance. It was different from the second part of the tour when he gained some self confidence and communicated with the audience by the microphone all the concert. Also his stage-fright went away and you could see him enjoying being back on stage. Nevertheless we must evaluate his performance as very successful. We should point the clear sound at first that we could enjoy every single tone and sound. All the hall was immersed into the amazing atmosphere that everything around you blended with Recoil’s music and drawn you into the performance. This impression was supported by the visual part of Alan’s gig which made you feel dreaming in some distant place. The Recoil’s gig lasted 70 minutes and although the audience shouted for the encore Alan did not return back. In the backstage he met Monika Načeva greeting him for the great music experience.

The evening continued by the Lakeside X concert but this was in front of just a small part of the previous audience as most of the people went home. In the meantime there was an unplanned signing sessions. Alan left the backstage to see Lakeside X’s gig and this was spotted by some of the fans and by a chain reaction this ended in people standing in a queue for an autograph or a photo. Alan willingly posed for the photo or gave his autographs to everyone who wanted to. When Lakeside X ended their performance there was a DJ Shunt after-party based on Synthpop, EBM and Depeche Mode music. That time just the most devoted ones or those waiting for the morning transport links were staying in the hall. During the after-party Alan, this time with Brit, returned back among the fans, ordered a beer, watched the people entertaining themselves and was giving the autographs and posing for the photos with fans once again. Around 4 a.m. he packed all his belongings and left to the hotel.

Prey (subHuman)
Want (Liquid)
Strange Hours (Liquid)
Drifting (Unsound Methods)
Allelujah (subHuman)
Killing Ground (subHuman)
Never Let Me Down Again (Depeche Mode, aggro mix)
Warm Leatherette (The Normal - Daniel Miller)
Shunt (Unsound Methods)
Black Box (Liquid)
Stalker (Unsound Methods)
Faith Healer (Bloodline)

Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010
photo by Peťa K2     photo by Peťa K2     photo by Peťa K2
Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010
photo by Peťa K2     photo by Peťa K2     photo by Peťa K2
Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010
photo by Peťa K2     photo by Peťa K2     photo by Peťa K2

Wonderful photo gallery by Petr Klapper

Article at Musiczone
Article at AB Radio
Invitation by EMI
Article at Muzikus
Interview at Musicserveru
Article at ČT24
Article at Týden.CZ
Report at Mediafax
Report at ČT24
Report at T-Music (1. část)
Interview at T-Music (2. část)
Interview at Musiczone
Report at Musiczone

Sunday April 18th, 2010

Alan had a breakfast in Prague’s opera restaurant which was a part of his private program as well as sightseeing walk in the centre of Prague. In case of the complicated journey to Prague Alan unfortunately couldn’t spend on it so much time as he had wanted nevertheless he spent some part of his time exploring beauties and attractions of our capitol city. Some of the fans managed to met and take a snap with Alan close to Prague Astronomical clock where he was watching street musicians.

The same day Alan was interviewed by Standa Zíma and Klára Nemravová on the Radio 1 airwaves.

An interview at Radio 1 (download MP3 file)

Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010
photo by Jakub Petříček     photo by Jakub Petříček     photo by Jakub Petříček

Monday April 19th, 2010

Next day began in the morning broadcast of TV Nova which was preceded by a little bit unfortunate annotation on TV Nova’s web page where Alan was introduced as “a former guitar player and founding member of Depeche Mode who is now touring with the subHuman album” and as his girlfriend instead of Brit was pointed his ex-wife Hepzibah Sessa 3 years after their divorce. The interview itself conducted by Marta Ondráčková and Pavel Svoboda (translated by Pavla Štípková of EMI) was not thank-goodness such a disaster as we expected. Just in the subtitle was Alan once again presented as a founding member of Depeche Mode. What surprised Alan was when hostess spoke about his next visit in September same year. Alan these small inaccuracies Alan graciously accepted with a smile. He listened to the questions and tried to answer them. Finally he allotted 3 winners of autographed Selected CDs and friendly said goodbye to hosts who didn’t forget say see you in September again.

The rest of Monday – the last day of Alan’s visit in Prague – was in the name of promotional signing session on the occasion of release date of “Selected” compilation which was organized by local EMI branch and took its place in megastore Bontonland. EMI prepared special promotional posters announcing this chance meeting Alan as well as the release of “Selected” compilation which recapitulates some of the interesting moments of Alan’s career by the date under the Recoil name. It’s interesting that this in-store signing sessions announced long time before wasn’t officially confirmed because everyone knew about it except Alan himself. The final decision was made on Saturday so the signing sessions was eventually confirmed on the day of live event. Originally Alan planned leave the Czech Republic sooner and move to Polish city of Lodz for press conference and meeting there Polish journalists for the interviews but he didn’t want to disappoint Czech fans-some of them travelling from further places. So he customized his program that the signing session could happen as it was originally announced.

Let’s move back in time for a while and go through it once more together. Those minutes of waiting could seem to be never-ending, suspension was rising and time suddenly ran somehow a little bit slowly. It was such a nice feeling seeing Alan with his girlfriend Brit coming together from “Old Town Powder Tower” down the “Na Příkopě street” accompanied by photographer, camera operator and other members of his team moving towards us. After a short welcome Alan quickly went downstairs using rear entrance. There in the office first admirers mostly employees of the store and their friends were waiting. Alan friendly shook their hands, chatted a little bit, posed for the photos, gave the first autographs and willingly signed us complete Recoil’s discography from our private CD collection. Pavla Štípková of EMI Czech who was responsible for the organization and time schedule of signing sessions made a witty comment that “Alan should have sit down on a chair” which made all laughing and put everyone in a good mood. And then finally came into being long awaited moment when Alan appeared in the store. Great ovation, whistling and rejoicing immediately announced Mr. Wilder and his eagerly awaited arrival. Alan waved with a smile to the crowd and sat at the table surrounded by style decorations with a musical accompaniment of newly released compilation Selected and for the first time used one of his two markers. Both of them almost finished off during just one hour.

The signing session although held on a working day attracted abundant number of fans of different age categories from different parts of our country. To mention at least one – Tomáš Jílek the well known Czech sport reporter who asked Alan to autograph book “Strangers” which includes next to the others as well the photos of Depeche Mode members made in “pre-velvet revolution” Prague by their “fifth member” Anton Corbijn. And what’s more some of the devoted fans came from the closest neighboring countries, that fact pleased us as well. Interest in this autograph hour was relatively high so in the shop gathered considerable number of loyal and eager fans who anxiously waiting for their occasion. Quite unusual seemed to be attendance of a few elderly persons who probably in their good-will came for the autographs instead of their grand-children as not everybody could leave his work or school at noon on Monday. Despite this unfriendly time frame, the number of people coming was pretty high and taking into account the endless queue of fans two autographs and one photo were allowed per person. This rule wasn’t followed by everyone but in the name of smooth run it was appropriate to respect it. The Depeche Mode & Recoil CD and DVD covers, books, photos, t-shirts and even revealed bodies were signed … yep, it was something to look at. The table, except two markers clean and empty in the beginning, was covered by presents from fans including high-quality wines and famous Czech beer at the end. Mr. Wilder was kind, friendly, communicant and willing throughout the time and we could see that he really appreciated interest and devotion of his fans and that he was of course very pleased by this. Moreover he fulfilled dream of a couple of his devoted fans and wrote their names down on “guest list” of sold-out Recoil event in Paris.

Alan was spreading a pleasant impression and positive energy all the time and was willing to communicate, listened carefully to each one and there was no sign of star haughtiness on his side we can see from the other music celebrities. That is what makes Alan so precious to us and his modesty and accessibility is something why he is an idol for so many of his fans. It seemed to be almost unbelievable and many of us were asking ourselves how it is possible that Alan despite his full time schedule could have been in such a good mood and without any signs of tiredness and exhaustion he could smile, chat and give autographs with graciousness and lightness so naturally. Alan not only seems to be a real professional he manners as a real professional and he is a real professional not only in his studio but also in public and he proves it on every occasion. As well as he does his work at full with tremendous strength and precision. Probably the feeling that he can do what he likes in a way he wants to helps him to overcome possible exhaustion. His performance must be over the years estimated as precisely and professionally handled.

All signing sessions was planned for an hour which was exceeded a little bit because of the enormous fan interest and we must hope that Alan’s time table wasn’t disrupted so much.

Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010
photo by Peťa K2     photo by Peťa K2     photo by Petr Zákostelský
Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010
photo by Petr Zákostelský     photo by Petr Zákostelský     photo by Petr Zákostelský
Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010
photo by Petr Zákostelský     photo by Petr Zákostelský     photo by Petr Zákostelský
Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010
photo by Petr Zákostelský     photo by Petr Zákostelský     photo by Petr Zákostelský
Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010     Alan Wilder, Prague 2010
photo by Petr Zákostelský     photo by Petr Zákostelský     photo by Petr Zákostelský

For the passionate statisticians we add the sales of Recoil and Depeche Mode titles during the signing sessions:

2 CD    Depeche Mode    101    2   
1 CD    Depeche Mode    Black Celebration    1   
1 CDS    Depeche Mode    Condemnation    1   
1 CD    Depeche Mode    Construction Time Again    2   
1 CDS    Depeche Mode    Enjoy The Silence '04    1   
1 CDS    Depeche Mode    Fragile Tension / Hole To Feed    2   
1 CDS    Depeche Mode    Never Let Me Down Again    2   
1 CD    Depeche Mode    Some Great Reward    1   
1 CD    Depeche Mode    Songs Of Faith And Devotion    1   
1 CD    Depeche Mode    Songs Of Faith And Devotion Live    2   
1 CD    Depeche Mode    Sounds Of The Universe    1   
1 CD    Depeche Mode    Violator    2   
1 CDS    Depeche Mode    Walking In My Shoes    2   
2 DVD    Depeche Mode    Devotional    3   
2 CD    Recoil    Selected    29   
1 CD    Recoil    Selected    10   
2 LP    Recoil    subHuman    1   
1 CD    Recoil    subHuman    1   

So Mr. Recoil left the best impression once again and he wasn’t the only one. We add a funny story for the end. When the signing session 65 minutes ended we were moving back to the store office, Britt followed Alan and suddenly one of the security guards who took his job really seriously probably considered Britt as a one of mad fans took her into his open arms and hold her as he was deeply thinking he protects Alan. Then he was informed that she is his girlfriend and of course he let her go. Britt just smiled tactfully but maybe that would be the thing she would remember for a while.

Alan and Britt despite the warnings used the staff toilette. The question if he "survived" this experience answered with a smile that it was O. K. and then it was necessary to leave the host store which Alan nicely commended and go upstairs. Just a quick friendly handshake and invitation for next visit, get into the van and go directly to Poland to Lodz. Alan, Britt and their mates left Prague and we have to hope that it wasn’t their last visit.

So, my friends, that’s all...

Mr. Wilder, it was a pleasure to welcome you in Prague and see you next time!

I would like to thank Petr Boušek and Tomáš Vítek for their valuable information.

Lucie "Lucerna" Klimešová, translated by Tomáš "Vincent" Vítek

autoři článku s Alanem Wilderem, Prague 2010

Lucerna & Vincent with Alan Wilder

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