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«We'll wait for brighter times». Zemfira's concert in Berlin


Berlin, Tempodrom Hall, October 26, 2022. "Zemfira! Zemfira!" - the crowd shouts. There is an expectation in the electrified air: when will the lights go out and she will come to the microphone?

I wonder if any of these people are those who, like me, also waited for her 20 years ago? Who listened to her first album to the rafters? Who felt, "that's me, 'a girl with a Walkman, don't walk around with a fan in the evening'"?

A little later I find out that they are. Zemfira says how glad she is that so many have managed to "get out, you know from where", because she sees faces in the audience that she has known for 20 years.

She walks out. A long black blazer with sequins, her hair sticking out, her cheekbones sharp. She doesn't say hello, she starts singing straight away.

It's not her who comes to us, it's the opposite, it's the audience that's briefly let into her world. And we have "something important in between".

There are no complicated special effects on stage. People try to catch the orange light through the lenses of their phones. Old songs are recognised from the first chords. The audience buzzes, squeals, jumps, yells and sings: "Forgive me my love!" and "Do you want the sun instead of a lamp? Do you want the Alps outside the window?".

Then in the dressing room she sings to Ekaterina Shulman "She's reading Nabokov in the underground, I'm sitting near...?" I now know that Shulman and I share the same favourite Zemfira song. That's nice.

 Her new songs are a war chronicle.

    The trains leave Kiev for Poland.

    I'll stay on the platform smoking,

    I'll fill a cartridge box with aperol

And "The day after tomorrow's war and we'll outlast it."

And the old songs sound new now. "My mum and dad turned into TV a long time ago"...

The stage lights up in red.

"Today is the 245th day of the war," says Zemfira. - A war that my country has waged. For more than two weeks there has been permanent shelling of Ukraine. I believe my country must stop this war. No to war!"

She sings:

Don't shoot, in this room love...
Don't be silent, in this loose silence we shall die....

The audience is chanting "No war!"

After the concert, I hear a black-haired girl excitedly say to a friend, "I recorded her whole speech about the war! I've been waiting for it!".

Zemfira won't let go. Sheets of paper are raised amongst the audience with "You're the best!" printed on them. Zemfira takes one of them and turns it towards the audience.

The last song is "Arrivederci". Before, Zemfira thanked "Germany for sheltering her compatriots".

On the line "I'll never go home", she extends her arms in her trademark gesture.

And she adds, "We'll wait for brighter times! Of course we will."

By: Anna Rosch

Cover photo:

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