My name is Cosmo. I am the Lighting Designer/Director for the German rock band the Scorpions. We are doing a 21-city tour of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. I decided to write a travelogue- a diary, if you will, about our tour, from my perspective, and thought that I would put it on the Internet for other people to enjoy.

No other band has ever undertaken such an extensive tour of the old Soviet Union. The Scorpions were one of the first bands to come here, and have been back to several cities many times over the past 13 years. We have played Moscow, St. Petersburg (Leningrad), Minsk, Kiev and the Baltic states in recent years, but have never been farther east than Moscow. Our tour will traverse the entire country of Russia, encompassing 9 different time zones spanning over 10,000 miles. Since these cities are so far away from each other, we have a chartered jet, a Yakolev Yak-42D, which is similar to a Boeing 727, but a bit smaller. We will be relying on local companies to provide staging, lighting and sound for us, and will be carrying a minimum of band gear, such as amps, speakers, drums and guitars because of the weight restrictions of our aircraft. We will have a support staff from each country traveling with us, the Promoter reps, interpreters, merchandisers, security, and other necessary crew totaling over 30 people, including the band and their immediate crew. Here are the people I will be working with:


  • Klaus Meine- Lead Vocals
  • Rudolf Schenker- Guitar & Vocals
  • Matthias Jabs- Lead Guitar & Vocals
  • James Kottak- Drums & Vocals
  • Ralf Riekermann Bass & Vocals

  • Fieldmarshall Gehrke- Tour Manager


  • Robbie- Production Manager
  • Achim- Sound Engineer
  • Andreas- Monitor Engineer
  • Cosmo- Lighting Director
  • Peter- Rudolf's Guitar Tech
  • Ingo- Matthias' Guitar Tech
  • Francis- James' Drum Tech
  • Malte- Ralf's Bass Tech
  • Lars- Moving Light Operator

As far as the traveling support staff, I will name them as they become part of the story.

I will be writing when I can, and I will update the Webpage whenever I can, but please understand that getting online over here isn't easy. Thanks for your patience, and enjoy!

I will be taking many photos throughout the tour, and will be placing them on separate pages in order for the diary pages to load quickly. Wherever you see a red "link," click on it and it will open up either a photo or another Webpage in another browser window. Simply close that window and the original diary page will still be there.

Also, I will be adding new photos to the older diary sections as well, so check back periodically to see new stuff there, too.

Click here to see the Official Tour Website

DAY 1- Friday, September 27, 2002


My last few hours at home were spent packing and readying my house for my long absence. Since I travel so much, I am usually pretty experienced at packing for any trip. This trip, however, presents quite different circumstances since we are heading to the end of the earth and may have a difficult time getting things that we take for granted. We have been warned about the lack of food, but hell, I am not going to bring a pantry. So, I went to the other extreme and decided to only bring a jar of Planters Peanuts. I'll survive, I say. We shall see. It is also going to be winter in Siberia, so I packed many items to help keep me warm. Even though I live in Florida, I own big coats, hats and gloves. Thermal underwear is another story. I have to think about laundry as well, so I packed so I could go 15 days before having to do any laundry, so I will only need a Laundromat twice while I am over there. I also packed NyQuil, DayQuil, Excedrin, Blistex, chewing gum and my vitamins. And condoms. Most important those.

Since I am going to be so out of touch for so long, I caught up on my bills as much as possible, shut of the newspaper, stocked up on food and litter for the cats, removed any breakable items from table tops because the cats tend to climb on everything when I am gone and I left some notes for my neighbor, who looks after my house and cats whenever I am away. My friend Barry arrived to pick me up at about 4 PM, we loaded my luggage and we were off to the airport. Barry is one of my best friends, and usually drops me off or picks me up from the airport. I generally try to fly out of Daytona, but it is sometimes much easier for the travel agent to fly me out of Orlando. Unfortunately, Orlando is over an hour away, and Daytona is 20 minutes away.

Upon arrival at the airport, I checked in and headed to the gate. Security remains a time-consuming process, but I think they are getting better at it. They were redesigning the security checkpoints at OIA, so it should be a fairly quick process once they finish.

The first leg of my trip was from Orlando to Washington-Dulles, where I ran into Francis at the bar near the gate. We slammed a couple of beers and boarded the United Airlines Boeing 777 and settled in for the 8-hour flight. Europe is 6 hours ahead of east coast time (EST). Thankfully, I managed to sleep through most of the flight.

DAY 2 - Saturday, September 28, 2002


I awoke when the flight attendants were serving breakfast; I had slept nearly 4 hours. Upon landing, we cleared customs, and picked up our luggage. We then headed to the Steigenberger Hotel, which is near the airport, and where several us were to stay before catching the flight to Russia.

After a few hours nap, Francis and I met in the lobby. This was Francis' first trip to Germany, and I didn't want him to only see the area adjacent to the airport, so I decided to take him into town for a bit of culture.

We took the hotel shuttle to the airport and then caught a train to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (main train station), where we stopped for a bratwurst, which for me is always a must. Bratwurst stands are found all over the place in Germany and only cost a couple of bucks. We proceeded to walk around the city center, stopping at a little café on Zeilstrasse for a quick beer. Francis' first beer in Germany! We then headed to the "Romer," bought some postcards there, and then walked across the "Main" river into "Sachsenhausen."

Sachsenhausen is an old part of Frankfurt, complete with very old buildings and cobblestone streets. The area mostly consists of bars and restaurants, and it gives you the feeling that you are in old Germany. We visited a few bars, and then had dinner in a typical German restaurant. We both had "Schweinsaxe," which is a pork knee joint; I know, it sounds terrible but it is quite tasty. It came with the usual accoutrements of mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and mustard. We left there for another bar called "Wild Thing" which has been a favorite of mine for many years. We had a couple of beers there and then headed back to the hotel. Between the jetlag and several beers, we were both ready to hit the sack. But not before having another bratwurst at the train station! The ride back was uneventful; we caught the shuttle back to the hotel and I was in bed by 1 AM.

DAY 3- Sunday, September 29, 2002


After a good German breakfast, Francis and I left for the airport and met up with the bands' travel agent to get our tickets. We checked our luggage and proceeded to the gate. The security is unbelievable here; the wait was over 30 minutes to get to the x-ray, then another 20 to get through Passport Control. We finally made it to the other side. We met the rest of the crew near the gate, and boarded a Lufthansa Airbus 320, and settled in for the 4-and-a-half-hour flight to Russia. The flight was full of Russian students, returning from some sort of field trip to Germany, and they were rather loud and raucous, but hey, we can't really complain! Been there, done that! We lost another 4 hours on this trip. Now 10 hours ahead of EST.

We arrived into Ekaterinburg at about 10 PM; it is always eerie arriving into the old Eastern Bloc countries under the cover of darkness. Maybe it's just my own mind, but it always has this surrealness, especially at the airports with the silhouettes of all the old Soviet jets shadowed by the amber lights. There was also a light drizzle and low clouds, which added to the eeriness.

It was chilly here, in the 30's, but not freezing yet. Cold enough for me, since it was still in the 90's when I left Florida!

We cleared customs with no problem, loaded a bus and headed to the hotel. The first thing I noticed was the lack of street lights. And to make matters worse, all the cars seem to have very dim headlights.

It was a short drive. We were all pleasantly surprised to see that the hotel was of the Western standards that we are all accustomed to. We checked in and then went down to the restaurant to have dinner before we headed to the gig.

Our first meal in Russia was pretty good, salad, cabbage soup (read- borscht) with a dollop of sour cream and pork cutlets- your typical Russian fare. After coffee, we loaded into a van and off to the venue we went. We drove through the city to get there, and it was quite an eye-opener. I have been coming to the Eastern Bloc for over 15 years now, and ever since the "wall" came down, things seemed to be improving, albeit at a slow pace. Moscow is rebuilding quickly, and the old East Berlin is now unrecognizable compared to when the wall was there. But over here, the state of the cities is incredibly bad. Buildings are crumbling; everything is in extremely dilapidated condition. The roads are horrendous; the living conditions for the most part seem to be very uncomfortable at best. Maybe it's just here in Ekaterinburg, but we will see as the tour progresses.

It was a 15-minute drive to the venue, which was a theater, with a capacity of about 1200. It was definitely constructed with ballet in mind. In the lobby of the theater were these glass-enclosed cases with a multitude of carvings made out of different stones. On the wall was a map of the old Soviet Union, complete with a profile of Lenin, all made out of different colored stones. The reason for all of these carvings was because that this area of Russia, being in the foothills of the Ural Mountains, is known for it's natural stones. There were many carvings, probably all done in the 40's and 50's, considering that the common theme was that of defeating the Nazis and Soviet style propaganda. The most disturbing artwork was a carving of an old WWII Nazi army helmet, with a spike through it.

We made our way upstairs to look at the stage, to make sure that everything was the way that we needed it for the show. If we would've waited until the morning, there was no way to make any changes, if necessary. All looked okay, even still, a couple of minor changes were made, and we headed back to the hotel at about 2 AM. A few people were in the bar playing pool, but I was tired and jetlagged, so I headed up and went to bed.

DAY 4- Monday, September 30, 2002


The crew headed to the gig at 10 AM, after having breakfast in the hotel. This consisted of hard-boiled eggs, brown bread and many other barely recognizable food items. The food is definitely different over here.

It was another cloudy and drizzly day; gray like you would think it would be here. Traffic was heavy, as it is Monday morning, back to work day.

In the light, you could really see the state of the city- crumbling. Many building which looked vacant were actually either homes or places of business. I feel for these people having to live in such disrepair. I can only imagine what it looks like inside, and between the walls, the electrical wires and plumbing.

Everything seemed in order at the venue, the local crew scurrying about, trying to put together the drum riser. The riser itself was a bit of a nightmare, bits and pieces of carts, then skinned with plywood and finally layered with bits of old carpet. A sturdy but somewhat dangerous looking platform, I'm glad that I don't have to play drums on it! The backline crew proceeded to put up their equipment- amps, drums, tuning guitars. The process seemed to slow a bit as the local crew attempted to build this "step unit" to go in front of the drum riser. After an intolerable amount of time, the riser was finally finished and Francis put his drums on the haphazard structure.

Lars and myself hung the Scorpions sign, which is a 20' wide by 5' high aluminum sign that spells out "SCORPIONS." Finally, the lights were trimmed to their proper height, and I proceeded to focus. Poor Lars had this lighting console that was nearly impossible to program, so I had him run my console while I focused. I figured it would take his mind of his immediate problem.

The day dragged on, full of little problems that had to be worked out, but still, added together, took most of the day to iron out. We had lunch in the theater restaurant, once again, mixed salad, cabbage soup with a dollop of sour cream and chicken, fish or "meat" for the main course. A pattern is starting to emerge.

Next thing we all knew, it was show time. Instead of having a local band as a support act, we have this thing called "Queen of Rock," which is like a beauty pageant where they have about 10 girls who are all vying for the "Queen of Rock." They were all dressed in bikinis, (dressed?) and they came out one at a time. They were judged by the volume of the audiences' applause on a dB meter, and finally, we had a winner. Not very exciting, but hey, none of the crew complained- good looking Russian girl in bikinis? Best opening act that we've ever had!

After a short intermission, the band went on, to the delight of the fans. The Scorpions have an incredible relationship with the Russian fans; they were one of the first bands to go over to Russia back in the day. There was this one guy sitting in front of me, who was probably late 30's, maybe 40 years old, and you could tell he'd been waiting a long time to see the Scorpions. Every time the band would start the next song, he would writhe with ecstasy. Many in the audience were doing the same. It gave me this great feeling to be part of bringing such happiness to these people. "Wind of Change" was the clincher, though, as the song that signified East meeting West. This song was written after the bands' experience in Leningrad 1988. If any modern song belongs to the Russians, it is this one.

The crowd was wild throughout the whole show, but really went over the top when the band came back and started Wind of Change. It was a great first show, especially for really being a "rehearsal."

After load out, we had a bite to eat, and all loaded the "Russian Luxury Coach" and headed off to Perm. The bus was your usual tourist bus, with reclining seats, and plenty of room to stretch out. Unfortunately, the shocks were shot, but I don't think it would have mattered, as the road was absolutely horrendous! Did I say road? Trail is more like it. 378 kilometers, and it took us over 6 hours to get there. 6 hours of battering, broken sleep, not to mention we had to watch the Russian version of "America's Funniest Home Videos." 'Nuff said. We finally arrived at 6:30 AM, and checking into our beautiful hotel, in the Old Soviet style. Talk about bare… but we were all so tired, that at this point, no one really cared and all were happy to just get into a bed that didn't move.

DAY 5- Tuesday, October 1, 2002


After an extremely short 3-hour sleep, we were all meant to meet in the lobby at 11 AM to head down to the gig. Of course, no one was there at 11, but everybody finally straggled down and we headed to the gig at 11:45. Waiting around seems to be a prerequisite for doing a tour of Russia. After a somewhat long and inexplicable detour, we finally made it to the venue, only to be at the wrong entrance, where we had to get back in the cars to head over to the "correct" door. All this in the pouring rain.

Upon entering this "Ice Palace," it certainly lived up to it's name- a hockey rink, freezing cold, with carpet laid over only a portion of the ice. The stage was completely wrong, probably half the agreed size, the lights were in a different configuration than yesterday and the crew was way behind in getting everything up. An argument ensued, with Robbie telling the Russian promoter the way it has to be, and we went to eat while they tried to get things done properly.

Well, we ate, but what a conglomeration of food, if you could call it that. There was the usual spread of sliced meats and cheeses, a selection of vegetables, and then we were brought "breakfast," which consisted of a rather anemic-looking fried egg, a serving of what we figured to be "buckwheat" and two horrendous looking "hot dogs." I wouldn't have fed these dogs to, well, my dog! We had the usual wait staff serving us our food. The Russians seem to be trying to find work for everybody, as they have people around to do everything it seems. Even the most menial task has a specialist there to do it. We even had one person just to make the coffee. When we arrived at the venue, there was someone there to open the gate, however, the gate seemed to have no purpose. Maybe it was there to give someone work…? We decided to call this "work creation" at some point.

After eating, we went back down to the arena floor, where the changes seemed to be in the process of being made. Hooray for that. They were piecing together a black carpet for the stage, but meanwhile, over the ice, were huge runs of carpet, 8 feet wide and surely long enough to cover the stage in one go. After much discussion, they decided to go with that idea, and lo and behold, the stage was covered in two runs- imagine that. It seems that the Russian mentality is to argue that their way is superior, even if they are wrong. At this point in the tour, I am still trying to figure out the Russian way of doing things. I am still having a difficult time coming up with any answers. Somebody on the crew brought up Yuri Gagarin. For those of you who don't know, Yuri Gagarin was a Russian Cosmonaut, and the first man in space and to orbit the earth. This he did in February of 1961. We all suddenly had a new found respect for this man, who had the courage to strap himself on top of a rocket built by Russian scientists and engineers and blast off into space. We couldn't get a drum riser built, yet this man made it into outer space. Incredible.

At some point, those of us who could went to eat lunch. This wasn't much better than breakfast, but when you're hungry, you'll eat about anything. We have the same three items as choices for the main course- always chicken, fish of meat. I tend to stay away from the fish, as the nearest ocean is 5000 miles away. We also had mixed salad and cabbage soup with a dollop of sour cream.

Finally, after what seemed a never-ending struggle, everything seemed to gel and we started the show with the usual "Queen of Rock" contest. These girls were obviously dancers, strutting their stuff to the beat of AC/DC. A winner was picked and on with the Scorpions. No matter how hard the day goes, it all seems to work out in the end when the band hit the stage. I mean the whole point of this is to entertain the fans, and in this case it is really special because these fans have never seen the Scorpions. After the show was over, we loaded up all the gear, had a late dinner, and headed back to the hotel. Everybody was beat and all were in their rooms by 1 AM.

DAY 6- Wednesday, October 2, 2002


Wow! Slept until 11:00 AM! As did most of the crew. Tired is an understatement. Showered, packed and met in the lobby for the bus ride to the train station. Guess what? It is raining again. Winter is closing in, we should be happy that it is not snowing yet! Once again, we were delayed in leaving, but we're getting used to it. After a short trip through this hustling city, we arrive at the train station, where the driver of our bus actually drove onto the train platform! There were two train cars, just for the band, crew and Russian support staff. We offloaded all the bags and proceeded to get into our compartments. The band arrived shortly after us. Meanwhile, over the loudspeaker, a Russian female voice was spouting out, I assume, train information, and then, some sort of music came over, like a National Anthem or something- very surreal. Outside our train on the platform was a pallet full of beer, unfortunately not for us. But it was heavily guarded.

An "engine" arrived, camouflaged, with a big Red Star on the front; it took us to another track, and after an interminably long time, we hooked up with a full size train we were finally underway. We were the last two cars of a regularly scheduled train, in other words, we were hooked up to group of cars being used by the general public. Now we were in for some real Russian culture- culture shock, was more like it! We made our way to the restaurant car, so we had to go through the regular cars- I cannot even begin to describe what these cars were like. Russians, with their belongings were sprawled out amongst the compartments and seats, in various states of undress, eating, drinking, sleeping, playing games; I guess doing what you do when you you're on a train. These compartments were open, so you had to be careful, otherwise you would end up with a pair of feet in your face. Stinky feet, believe me. The odor was indescribable- the conglomeration of sweaty bodies, stinky feet, strange food and coal smoke made quite the impression upon your sinuses. Deodorant is definitely not in vogue here. Once we finally made it to the restaurant car, our appetites had been dimmed, to say the least.

There was no one else in the restaurant car, just us. There was a woman, the chef I presumed, who seemed to be doing all the cooking and serving. She was wearing an extremely tight pair of black pants and obviously a thong underneath that. She had a white top revealing a rather large and shapely pair of breasts, however, her face belied her curvaceous body. Russian woman for the most part are beautiful, and they all seem to have one thing in common- beautiful legs and asses. Even the ugly women are somewhat good-looking!

But then, I digress…In any case, we were all served lunch- sliced bread, mixed salads, cabbage soup with a dollop of sour cream and our choice of several indistinguishable main courses- chicken, fish or meat. I will not elaborate in case you are eating as you read this. After eating, we had a couple of beers trying to delay the inevitable return trek back through the mass of humanity in the train cars behind us, but finally, without any smelly feet forced in our faces, we made it back to our cars. I laid down for a nap and managed a couple of hours sleep before we arrived back into Ekaterinburg. We got of the train and went to a hotel different to the original one we stayed at on our previous visit. This one was not as nice, but it would suffice.

Once again, we headed to a restaurant, which we were told was one of the nicest in the city. Well, wrong again. It was in some hotel basement, and seemed to be more of a cantina than a restaurant. No matter, the food was filling and the beer was cold. Back to the hotel, I crawled in my bed at 1 AM for what I hoped to be a long sleep.

DAY 7- Thursday, October 3, 2002


I awoke at 3:30 AM. Jet lag. 3:35. Sleep, try to sleep…3:40…sleep, close your eyes…sleep…3:45. I wasn't slated to go to the airport to help load the plane, but since I was up, I decided to go. Robbie, Peter, Lars and myself all met in the lobby and left for the airport at 5:30 AM. We headed to the terminal first to have some coffee and a bite to eat. Small pieces of bread with either salami, salmon or salmon roe on it. I like the roe, myself. Coffee was terrible, but I am getting used to it.

We went back to the van and drove over to the International Cargo area. Where we waited. Then we were told that they needed our passports. Why? We weren't leaving Russia, just flying to another city. So we gave them to them. Protocol, I told myself. Flexing their power.

We waited some more. For nearly an hour. Finally, we were told that they were going to weigh the gear, and we could watch if we wished. The gear had already been weighed by Peter. Protocol. We agreed, as if we had any choice in the matter, and walked to this derelict warehouse that had other cargo in it. They unloaded our gear and proceeded to weigh each piece on this scale that probably dated back to WWII. Maybe WWI. I mentioned to Robbie that at least it wasn't raining. Then, it started to drizzle. After an hour, they finally finished, and we went back to the van- to wait some more. Eventually, they gave us back our passports and we were allowed to drive to our plane. By this point, it was absolutely pouring rain. Mischa, our Russian "loadmaster" started loading the gear into the cargo bays. Then he unloaded it. Then put it back. It didn't look like we were going to make our noon departure. Hell, at this rate, we'd be lucky to leave today. After several attempts, the gear finally fit, but not before several rows of seats were removed from the back of the plane. There was a lot of gear on that plane, and over 30 passengers would be in it as well. We also had to put all of our luggage on top of the gear.

We loaded our luggage onto the plane and chose some seats. Then we headed back to the terminal to meet up with the rest of the crew, who had already been there for 3 hours. Once again, we had to surrender our passports to receive- boarding passes? Okay, more protocol. I bought some postcards. We waited. We went to another room and waited some more, then finally loaded a bus and were driven out to our waiting jet. We boarded the cargo-laden aircraft, settled into our seats and the pilot started the engines. We taxied our way toward the runway, and pulled into position. The pilots were obviously going through their checks. The engines then started spooling up, louder and louder, then the pilot released the brakes. We started rolling down the runway, slowly picking up speed. The plane started to vibrate. The nose lifted, and after what seemed an eternity, we were airborne, with not much runway to spare. A lot of people were quite relieved.

We were originally supposed to leave a noon, but it was now 2 PM. Not too bad considering.

We broke out of the clouds and there was the sun! Hadn't seen that in quite a while. Shortly after leveling off, the flight attendants served dinner. I was starved- we hadn't eaten since the salmon roe and salami toast at 6 AM. Well, the meal was nothing to write home about, but at least it was filling.

The flight was to take about 5 hours, so some people napped, others drank beer and vodka. I wrote some postcards. One of our interpreters is a girl name Irina, she is from Moscow. She's a lot of help, for obvious reasons. I always try to learn the local language, so she has been great help. As if the language barrier is not enough, the Russians also have a completely different alphabet. Theirs consists of 33 characters, and only 6 are the same as ours. I spent most of the flight going over the letters, learning what they mean. I already know a few letters, but with her help, I know the entire alphabet now. It really helps to know the alphabet, as everything is obviously written using Russian letters. And even though the words are Russian as well, it helps to be able to actually "read" the words. For instance, an easy Russian word is spelled "PECTOPAH" which is pronounced "RESTORAN" and, yes, it means "restaurant." My name is KOCMO in Russian. Click here to see an airport sign in both letters. Here are a few examples of how different the letters are- The Russian "F" looks like this- "Ф." The Russian "J"- "Ж." As you can see, the letters are extremely different, but with practice, you can start reading. I find it very interesting.

We landed in Irkutsk at 9:30; we lost 3 more hours, now 13 hours ahead of EST. Some serious time-zone changes.

We all loaded into a 15-passenger bus and headed to the hotel. It was short drive, and the hotel looked great. No elevators, though. 3 floors, so not too bad. The hotel also had Internet access, hooray! Hopefully, it worked. We were told that we couldn't get it tonight, however, as the technicians were not there. In the morning, they said. We had dinner, it was really bad, but the beer was good, as was my cabbage soup with a dollop of sour cream. We headed to the gig to see how things were going. A short drive through Irkutsk and we were there. Again, this city was crumbling, but there did seem to be more new construction than I had seen in any of the other cities so far.

We walked through a mall to get into the venue, and were we pleasantly surprised- the stage, the lights, the sound- all perfect! We were stunned. The promoter and crew couldn't seem to do enough to help us. We made some minor changes, Robbie checked out the dressing rooms and we left to go back to the hotel.

It had been a long day, so it was sack time for most of us. The Internet would have to wait.

Ahead to Week 2