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Differing approaches to Obywatel G.C.

For more than 20 years, lovers of the work of this well-known Torun musician have been meeting at the Special Concerts in Memory of Grzegorz Ciechowski. The event attracts both the artists and the audience. This year was no different.

Grzegorz Ciechowski died on December 22, 2001. Known for his activities in the band Republika, as well as his solo projects, the most recognizable being Obywatel G.C. On the initiative of the artist’s relatives and associates, commemorative concerts have been held for 21 years, during which bands and soloists present their take on Ciechowski’s songs. The concert formula hasn’t changed for years — the list of performers remains unknown until the very last minute, which adds an extra bit of spice to the event.

The first group to perform at Od Nowa was a band from Brześć Kujawski — Sytuacje. They opened their set with the song „Sam na linie”. This is one of the most cheerful Republika songs, at least on the instrumental side. Upbeat, reminiscent of the band’s punk roots, it was performed faithfully, with vocal variations in the recited parts. The second number was „Mamona”, Republika’s all-time big hit. We were treated to a faithful cover. The third song was no less famous, „Sexy doll”, which focused on a rearrangement. The guitar sounds in the verses were replaced by piano sounds. The singer’s interpretation opted for calmness, there was seemingly less of it than Ciechowski’s in the original. The musicians decided to „flatten out” the song a bit, and we didn’t experience the energetic rocking out known from the original. In the next track, „Śmierć w bikini”, we could hear a shreddy guitar solo, which was the only divergence from the original. On the other side, „Arktyka” sounded quite different. The musicians changed the melody of the song, resulting in a circling around the guitar intro to the song during the verse. On top of that, instead of the original energetic chorus, the audience was graced with a melodeclamation. The band Sytuacje gave the impression as if they had come from the assumption that words speak more than sound, and placed them on a pedestal. The last song played by the artists was „Reinkarnacje”. The organ and guitar, which were present in the Republika’s performance, have been replaced here with a sonically spare piano. The explosive chorus has been replaced by a calm recitation.


The performance of Sytuacje was followed by the ceremonial opening. Grzegorz Kopcewicz, the originator of the commemorative concerts, took over the stage. A short film was shown in which the winner of this year’s Arts Award of the city of Toruń in honor of Grzegorz Ciechowski, Daria ze Śląska performed her popular song „Dziewczyna z papierosem”.

There were also some „non-musical” guests. Mayor of Toruń Michał Zaleski described Ciechowski’s relationship with the city as follows: „Born in Tczew, in love with Toruń.” This speech was followed by a short speech by Professor Wojciech Wysota. In his statement, he pointed out the value of annual meetings to cultivate the memory of the late musician. He summed it up with the sentence: „Let us remember Grzegorz and always keep him in our hearts.”

prof. Wojciech Wysota

After these very words, a punk band from Płock, Farben Lehre, took the stage. Their opening song was a classic from Republika’s debut album, „Będzie plan”. They played the song with a punk rock twist. There was nothing surprising about this, since „cold wave,” of which Republika is the crown Polish representative, originated from this music. The song was enriched with a guitar solo. The second song was the psychedelic „Układ sił”. Calm and rhythmic, based on a sharp guitar sound. Farben Lehre’s vocalist Wojciech Włoch did his best to give this piece, too, a punk vibe. The explosion came in the third track, the inherently heavy „Kombinacje”. Here the overdriven guitar and galloping drums took the listeners into the land of heavy playing. It was energetic, fast and upbeat. The musicians from Płock closed their set with the song „Odchodząc”. Calm and in the atmosphere of the original.

Farben Lehre

An interlude in the musical marathon was the presentation of an award in the One Poem Contest , „Citizen of the Word” in honor of Grzegorz Ciechowski. The winner was Maria Teresa Domarecka, who recited her prize-winning poem on stage, in which she addressed, among other things, the armed conflict in the Gaza Strip.

The band performances were over, and it was time for soloists. The first to sing in this part of the concert was the vocalist of a band from Toruń — Manchester, namely Maciej Tacher, who greeted the audience with the song „Republika Marzeń”. Rafał Karasiewicz’s organ had a wonderful time during this song, it is one of the hallmarks of the Republika band and was beautifully represented here. The second (and the last) song performed by Tacher was heavily rearranged — coming from the repertoire of Citizen G.C. — „Tobie wybaczam”. Instead of the brass instruments in the introduction, a lone piano reverberated. The vocalist’s singing remained faithful to the original, and the saxophone solo was replaced by an organ.

Maciej Tachel

After Tacher’s performance, singer Adela Konop, known from „The Voice of Poland” TV show, appeared on the stage. She took the audience into the world of „Masakra”, Republika’s last album. Her performance of „Raz na milion” did not feature the electronic music elements present in the original. Adela’s voice was captivatingly gentle, which, along with the strong moments, worked well with the song’s message. Another song performed by the singer was „Sado-maso piosenka”. She was playing with the form in her rendition. The electric guitar was highlighted much more than in the original, and Adela herself added a touch of feminine sensitivity to her performance.

Adela Konop

The undisputed guest star on the Od Nowa’s stage was the legend of Polish heavy metal, singer of the band TSA, Marek Piekarczyk. After a warm welcome from the audience, he sang his version of the song „Ciało” from the repertoire of Obywatel G.C. The addition of a keyboard sound evoked associations with electronic music, and Piekarczyk himself brought a lot of heavy metal atmosphere with his vocal show-offs. Tomasz Pacanowski’s guitar solo harmonized well with them, arousing associations with fast and heavy music. Next, another hit by Obywatel G.C. was played, namely „Tak… Tak… To ja” The song is strong and punchy in the original with some aggressive phrases. The heavy metal musician on vocals, of course, added even more punch to it. Instead of a saxophone solo, we heard an organ solo, with which the performance by the legend of Polish heavy music ended.

The performer of the next two songs was the current vocalist of the group Dżem — Maciej Balcar. He presented the first song of the evening from Republika’s second album, „Obcy Astronom”. It was certainly one of the most faithful performances. Aside from a discrete guitar solo, it was hard to find differences between the original and the arrangement. Next in line was Republika’s biggest hit — „Biała flaga”. Here, again, fidelity to the original seemed to be the main focus of performers. The only difference that was noticeable was the guitar solo after the iconic piano part. The song seemed like a good ending to the concert, but it was coming with the performance of a well-known female artist.

Maciej Balcar

The one to end the concert was Urszula. Giving the impression of being heavily emotionally taken over, she presented the last songs of the evening. The first was „Zapytaj Mnie Czy Cię Kocham”. It retained the same dense atmosphere as the original, and Urszula’s stage expression added a touch of nostalgia to the performance. A snappy guitar solo was also part of the song’s atmosphere. The artist’s last song, as well as the last song of the day, was a classic over classics, namely „Nie pytaj o Polskę”. Urszula paired with backing vocalist Michał Skoczek, tenderly approached this text, so important to many Polish people. A monumental guitar solo, straight out of a rock power ballad, was also added to this piece. These were the final chords of the Special Concert in Memory of Grzegorz Ciechowski.

Grzegorz Ciechowski, like few other Polish artists, perfectly fits the phrase „one of a kind”. The uniqueness of the artist and his home band is something that invariably makes a strong impression on listeners of different generations. It is therefore gratifying that, thanks to the Memorial Concert, we all have a chance to commune with the musical diversity flowing from the Od Nowa’s stage based on his legacy.

[original article by Stanisław Humienny]

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