by Alexandra Mrozowska
– Sr. Columnist —
November 10, 2017 at Rocker Club in Szczecin, Poland –-
While Heraclitus’ famous quote “No man ever steps in the same river twice” doesn’t seem to be a part of a rocker’s creed, it could have been applicable to a certain extent when it comes to the tour dates. Seldom does it happen that the band plays in the same city twice during one tour, does it?
However, there are some noble exceptions to the rule. Having already played in the city of Szczecin once during the first leg of their The Snakes Are Back In Town Tour 2017, the Polish Hard Rock/Heavy Metal veterans CETI returned to the capital of West Pomerania in mid-November. Was it the enthusiastic response of the Szczecin-based audience back in January that made them announce yet another date in the same city? It could have been so – and those who couldn’t have made it months earlier now had a chance to make up for the lost time.
The majority of fans gathered in the Rocker Club that cold, rainy November evening sported Snakes Of Eden t-shirts, a nod and a wink to CETI’s general attitude towards the choices behind the concert setlists. Similarly to their 2015 tour in support of the previous album Brutus Syndrome, the band adds a lion’s share of the new material to their concert repertoire rather than riding the wave of nostalgia. Asked about that, the band’s leader Grzegorz Kupczyk told me back in 2015 – “We played [the older songs] for so many years and finally, it’s time we took a chance and let [them] go.” However, at least a handful of classics also made it to the setlists during the tour, too – including the band’s 1992 staple “Lamiastrata.”
The support act for the gig in Szczecin was Black Meadow, a local quartet whose sound blends Rock, Metal, and Funk. Although their set was relatively short, the group managed to present a handful of songs of their repertoire, such as “Highway Son” or “Mad Woman.” If given more time, perhaps they would include a few interesting covers in their setlist as well – for example, their energetic version of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell.”
The night’s headlining act didn’t make their fans wait for too long – just a while after Black Meadow left the stage, the rhythm section (Marcin “Mucek” Krystek – drums and Tomasz Targosz – bass) appeared, followed by the group’s co-founder, the keyboard player, and backup singer Maria “Marihuana” Wietrzykowska and the guitarist Bartosz Sadura. The last to complete the line-up on stage was Grzegorz Kupczyk – not only CETI’s singer and co-founder but also the former singer of the pioneering Polish Metal band Turbo.
The intro was Rossini’s “Wilhelm Tell Overture”, not an unusual choice for the band who’s already preceded their live performances with the Classical pieces like “Carmina Burana” in the past. CETI opened the show with the first track off Snakes Of Eden, the Maiden-esque “Edge Of Madness” fading into the galloping “Wizards Of The Modern Worlds”. Referring to Hitchcock’s famous quote, it could have been said that the gig started with something comparable to a musical earthquake, and then the stress continuously increased. Songs like “C.E.T.I.’a”, “Prawo Piesci” and “Ogien I Lzy” revisited the earliest part of the band’s catalog only to prove that CETI’s debut album really stood the test of time twenty-eight years after its release. Simultaneously, they blended almost seamlessly with the group’s newest works, including the Whitesnake-tinted, anthem-ic “Notes Of Freedom”, the crowd favorite “Wild & Free” or the semi-ballad, semi-uptempo “Lady From The Dark”. CETI’s surely come a full circle with the last two albums, and the formula they embarked on doesn’t fall too far from their earliest endeavors.
Even though the entire set in Szczecin was magnificent, the show had its certain highlights too. Those included Kupczyk’s breathtaking vocal equilibristics in the epic “Empire Of Loss”, the keyboard charm of “Ogien I Lzy”, the wild drum pound in “Fight To Kill”, the blazing guitar solo in “Lamiastrata” or funky bass part in “The Evil And The Troy”. And – last, but surely not least – “Dorosle Dzieci”, the legendary ballad originally recorded by Turbo in 1982. Although it remains a cult classic for many – especially the two generations of Kupczyk’s fans – it was in and out of the CETI’s setlists throughout the years. The Snakes Are Back In Town Tour marked its return to the band’s live repertoire – but was it only for the sake of nostalgia?
Similarly to Turbo’s 1985 song “Juz Nie Z Toba,” also revisited by CETI during their 2017 gigs, “Dorosle Dzieci” in its current live version has Kupczyk reaching back to his roots as a singer and showing how his voice matured through the years of stage and recording experience. He might not have been that twenty-something singing “Dorosle Dzieci” during his first recording sessions with Turbo in 1982 anymore, but today he still delivers the songs with equal passion and feeling. And as the second verse approaches, he shares vocals with Maria “Marihuana” Wietrzykowska, making it another unique moment throughout the gig.
Although 2017 marks the 28th year in CETI’s history – invigorated by line-up changes of the Brutus Syndrome era, the band seems to get even better with time. The gig they played in Szczecin in mid-November was a clear proof of that. But – as everyone who attended it can testify – there was more to this concert than just a combination of solid repertoire, experience, and talent. Perhaps the best aspect of watching CETI live in Szczecin was to feel the energy exchanged between the band and the roaring crowd and to see the pure outbursts of joy upon the faces of the quintet as they blazed through songs old and new. If every band with almost three decades of activity under their belt was able to blend maturity and professionalism with almost childish glee, there wouldn’t have been any disappointed concert attendees. But if you want to check it out in person, be sure to keep the Polish ensemble on your radar from now on. Chances are that CETI is going to go West again quite soon, and that means way beyond Szczecin – who knows where to…?
Grzegorz Kupczyk – vocals
Maria “Marihuana” Wietrzykowska – keyboards, backing vocals
Bartosz Sadura – guitar
Tomasz Targosz – bass guitar
Marcin “Mucek” Krystek – drums
1. Edge Of Madness
2. Wizards Of The Modern Worlds
4. Notes Of Freedom
5. Devil Made Me Do It
6. Prawo Piesci
7. Juz Nie Z Toba
8. Lady From The Dark
10. Killing Time/Czas zla
11. Fight To Kill
12. Empire Of Loss
13. Dorosle Dzieci
14. Wild & Free
15. Ogien I Lzy
16. Evil And The Troy
18. Fire & Ice
Official website: http://www.ceti-gk.com/