Live From Russia: Who Knew Boris Yeltsin Was So Funky?
When you’re offered an all-expenses paid, two-day trip to Russia as the guest of a headlining DJ to cover a huge concert dedicated to the memory of Boris Yeltsin, all you can do is say “yes,” hop on the next Aeroflot flight and head towards the Ural Mountains.
That’s exactly what happened to me this week, as my great friend DJ Miss Saigon (featured in DrJays.com‘s “Salute The DJ” campaign) and I traveled to Yeltsin’s birthplace of Ekaterinburg (with minus 15 below Celsius temperatures) at the invitation of his daughter, Tatyana Borisovna Yumasheva. Taking place last night, the inaugural memorial concert was the highlight of a month-long celebration of the legacy of Russia’s first president (and what would have been his 80th birthday), featuring a diverse array of talent from local rock bands to operatic performers to UK sensation Craig David plus Saigon on the wheels of steel.
According to a prior news report promoting the show:
On February 11, Russian rock bands will perform a live gig under the slogan “Yeltsin Forever” in Ekaterinburg. The Communists were extremely suspicious of rock music, seeing it as evil filling people brains with anti-Soviet, pro-western ideas. For years, rock was largely an underground affair in the USSR. It first started emerging into the light during Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika, and became extremely popular in the nineties. “[Rock] embodied changes in society, and Boris Yeltsin wanted to introduce changes, too,” one of the concert’s organizers, Anatoly Kirillov, told Kemmersant Daily. “That is why a rock concert should remind about that epoch.”
The venue for the concert was a large sporting arena, like Ekaterinburg’s version of Madison Square Garden. Massive images of Yeltsin (President from 1991-1999) flashed on stage-to-ceiling screens through the night, showing him growing from young man to politician, and pictured with dignitaries like Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright.
Yeltsin’s daughter Tatyana officially kicked off the event (pictured above) with an impassioned speech to the crowd, telling them the youth of Russia were important to her father and how the concert represents and continues her father’s love for them. She then introduced the diverse bill of acts for the night, with the highlight being a spirited rendition of a classic Russian song from Imperial times remixed into a modern version featuring rock, operatic and R&B elements and accompanied by an orchestra (pictured below).
A refreshed-looking Craig David rocked the venue as the main act, performing hits including “Fill Me In,” “Walking Away” and “Insomnia”:
DJ Miss Saigon closed the night with a setlist made for the all-ages crowd that included everything from Madonna to Lil’ Jon to A-Trak and Guns N Roses:
Check out some backstage pics and be sure to stay tuned for more coverage (including an exclusive interview with Craig David) next week:
Showtime for DJ Miss Saigon
Gotta have my Red Bull at all times!
At soundcheck earlier in the day
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