Top Manchester band James are busy rushing round city centre shops equipping themselves with stocks of canned vegetables and warm winter woolies – they are the first of the new wave of the city’s pop stars to tour the Soviet Union starting on Thursday.
Singer Tim Booth and the rest of the seven-piece band will brave temperatures of below 20 degrees to play to around 14,000 people in Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Estonia and the Ukraine in venues that include an aircraft factory in Kiev and “The Cultural Palace of Construction” in Archangel, a port on the Arctic Circle’s White Sea.
It will be a far cry from the massive G-Mex Centre in Manchester where they played to 18,000 fans over two nights on Friday and Saturday.
The band’s record company Phonogram doesn’t have a distribution deal in the Soviet Union.
Manager Martine McDonagh says “It’s not a promotional tour for selling records – the band want to do something different.”
The band play at seven venues in five nation-states, including some trying to secede from the Soviet Union.
But agent Nick Hobbs says : “The band won’t be in any trouble where they’re going. The biggest problem is that they are all vegetarians and in the Soviet Union, being a vegetarian is as useful as speaking Chinese”
Martine assures me that the band are taking adequate supplies. She adds “Our records aren’t sold there, so it will be interesting to see what they make of the band. Apparently, everyone from grannies to little children turn up to watch.”