There are many reasons why you would come to an Andrius Mamontovas concert in 2016.
Perhaps the best reason is even if you’re neither Lithuanian nor speak the language, it’s just a love of straight-up rock and roll.
If you are Lithuanian, then memories of when Mamontovas and his former band Foje was one of a number of Soviet Lithuanian rock bands to openly criticise the crumbling system around them is one. Being handed down a copy of a Foje album by an older sibling is another.Whatever the reason, the audience who came to see Mamontovas at Vilnius’ Tamsta Club on April 26 was 90 percent the children of perestroika, and their children; the kids of early independence. No surprise really, considering that the 48-year-old Mamontovas has been so influential in shaping the musical landscape of post-Soviet Lithuania.
The gig at Tamsta is the second stop of Mamontovas’ tour to promote his 2015 album, ‘Degančios Akys‘; a tour that saw him play a number of venues in the United States and the United Kingdom last year. He will also play the 02 Indigo in London on May 6, 2016.
The 22-song setlist started with ‘Raudonos Ruduo‘, the opening track from ‘Degančios Akys‘. Mamontovas, along with bandmates Eimantas Belickas, Meindaras Brazaitis, Tomas Andrjiauskas and Romas Rainys blitzed through tracks from his solo career – 18 of which he has recorded since going solo in 1996 – plus a number from the Foje days. One of the crowd’s favourites was ‘Tušti delnai‘, from Foje’s 1996 album, ‘1982’. Arms were raised, rock horns were made, and lighters were waved.Mamontovas closed the concert with three tracks, the first two – ‘Saugok vaikystę‘ and ‘Laužo šviesa‘ – Both were written during the Foje days immediately after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. More poignantly, the concert date also marked the 30th anniversary of the tragedy. Yet as a non-Lithuanian, what were my reasons to come and listen to a musician whose lyrics I do not fully understand? For me, it’s the hard rocking track ‘Geltona. Žalia. Raudona.’*, which takes its title from the colours of the Lithuanian flag. The song was the second on the setlist, and to be singing the lyrics “Mes tavo vaikai / Išdegę laukai / Tu mūsų vanduo ir duona /Geltona žalia raudona“** with around 200 Lithuanians was a genuinely moving experience. I am from the United Kingdom. I have never had to fight for anything. However, the majority of those around me have had to at some point in their lives. The whole thing was very emotional. As a self-confessed geek of Eastern European history, watching a man who flipped a middle finger to the USSR via rock music, and whose influence has been felt by so many of post-Soviet Lithuania’s musicians I listen to was also more than enough to keep me happy until next time.
I am writing this the following day with a sore neck, a massive grin and a number of Mamontovas’ songs swirling around my head. I am struggling to filter between so many standout moments. It seems that the Andrius Mamontovas Magic that has captured the hearts of so many Lithuanians over the years has also won over a British bloke.Even if you do not speak Lithuanian, but un-flashy, non-slick, straight-up, emotionally charged rock with historical resonance is your thing, then I am telling you to pay to go and see him irrespective of whether you are in Lithuania or the UK.
Besides, his overseas performances have subtitles meaning you don’t have an excuse to miss out, do you?
Editor’s Note*: Google Translate it!
Editors Note**: Google Translate it again!