Culture & Press news Embassy 4 January 2008
Few embassies would risk hosting a gig for a British indie band but the Czechs have always been a little different. After all, this is a quirky nation whose first post-communist president, Vaclav Havel, appointed Frank Zappa as cultural ambassador.
The 160-strong army of hardcore British Sea Power fans that streamed through the Embassy doors were rather titillated to be part of the select few attending a rock concert in an embassy
“I was expecting to eat Ferrero Rochers,” remarked one, sporting a maroon twin Mohican and some painful-looking ear-spears.
Another dishevelled groupie sidled up: “Is it just me, or does the place look a bit, you know, soviet?”
I explain that the Embassy was opened in 1968, about the time the Soviet tanks rolled into Prague, and that today’s diplomats aren’t exactly fans of the architecture either.
In fact, when the band politely asked Ambassador Winkler whether it would be alright to make some noise, he joked: “Of course and be sure to wreck the place so that we will have to rebuild it!”
When BSP lead singer Neil Hamilton struck up a chord and shouted: “Welcome to the Czech Republic!” the crowd roared with approval.
But how did Ladislav Pflimpfl, the head of the Czech Centre, persuade the Ambassador to take the plunge?
It's all for good, cultural diplomacy reasons, he explained. For one thing, the Brighton-based band a likeable bunch of cerebral absurdists mixed their new album, Do You Like Rock Music?, in Prague and it is littered with Czech references.
But more importantly, the single Waving Flags, which was launched at the gig, is all about welcoming Central European immigrants in the UK.
“It’s a reaction to the flag-waving ‘Little Englander’ mentality against immigration,” says Roy Wilkinson, the band’s publicist. “We think it’s far better to embrace our brothers and sisters from the east.”
To hear the track Waving Flags, or to buy Do You Like Rock Music? visit www.britishseapower.co.uk