Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Rockwave Festival 2018 - Day 1 - Arctic Monkeys


People say that we don't often get the chance to see new bands (well, newer than the usual) in Greece which are at the peak of their career. I had seen Arcade Fire in Italy in 2014, something I'd been longing for for quite a long time, so after that I wanted to see The Arctic Monkeys. I never thought that would be possible in Greece but when Alex Turner's side project The Last Shadow Puppets played at Rockwave Festival two years ago, I thought, "well, Alex can't you come back with The Arctic Monkeys next year?" Two years later my wish came true. And not only did I see Alex Turner again, but also his partner in The Last Shadow Puppets, Miles Kane.

I arrived at Terra Vibe in time for Miles' set, grabbed what I judged to be a good place right in front of the second barrier (so that I wouldn't be squeezed -much -) and then Miles proceeded to give us a good head start which climaxed with the cover of Donna Summer's “Hot Stuff”

Next up were Alt-J and all I can say for them is that they were interesting but what really caught my attention was their stage set-up and their light show.
But the anticipation was high for the main act and it was during this anticipation that one Arctic Monkeys fan complimented me on my Arcade Fire t-shirt (after all, both bands begin with the same three letters!)
What can I say about their set? Wonderful. A lot of people did not appreciate their latest album with its laid-back, lounge-y sound, but when playing live they don't disappoint; mixing the new songs with the older, more energetic ones with good measure. Not to mention that they teased us in the beginning with a false start!


The only drawback was the price of the tickets. However, I have seen even British fans complain about them, so we're all in the same boat here, not just in Greece, but in other countries as well. It seems that a Monkeys gig costs a little bit more. But then again, it refreshes the parts other gigs cannot reach. And overall, it is worth it.
As for Rockwave Festival, it turned out that in 2018, for the first time ever, I attended all of its three dates. My next appointment with it would be for something a bit heavier...

SETLISTS

Miles Kane
01. Counting Down The Days
02. Inhaler
03. Better Than That
04. Loaded
05. Give Up
06. Taking Over
07. Cry On My Guitar
08. Rearrange
09. Too Little Too Late
10. Shavambacu
11. Colour Of the Trap
12. Don't Forget Who You Are
13. Hot Stuff
14. Coup De Grace
15. Come Closer

Alt-J
01. Deadcrush
02. Fitzpleasure
03. Something Good
04. The Gospel Of John Hurt
05. In Cold Blood
06. Ripe & Ruin
07. Tessellate
08. Every Other Freckle
09. Bloodflood
10. Matilda
11. Dissolve Me
12. Pleader
13. Taro
14. Left Hand Free
15. Intro (An Awesome Wave)
16. 3WW
17. Breezeblocks

Arctic Monkeys
01. Four Out Of Five (with Brianstorm false start)
02. Do I Wanna Know
03. Brianstorm
04. Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair
05. Crying Lightning
06. The View From The Afternoon
07. Teddy Picker
08. She Looks Like Fun
09. Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino
10. Do Me A Favour
11. Cornerstone
12. Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?
13. Knee Socks
14. One Point Perspective
15. Pretty Visitors
16. I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor
17. R U Mine
Encore:
18. Star Treatment
19. Arabella
20. 505 (with Miles Kane)






Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Ejekt Festival 2018 - Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, The Editors and a thunderstorm


Nick Cave is a regular visitor to Greece. I was actually planning to go to one of his gigs 31 years ago, back in 1987, but somehow I didn't. And what's funny is that I never got to see him during this 31 year period. My last attempt was last November, but this was on a weekday and because of work I couldn't make it to the venue on time. That gig was sold out and thankfully (and probably because of that) the promoters decided to bring him and the Bad Seeds back for a summer, open air gig at Ejekt Festival.
When the day of the festival came it didn't look much like a summer day at all. Well, it did, but not according to the weather forecast. A thunderstorm was predicted and this looked like a gig that was going to be ruined. It was indeed ruined for some people, but not for me because somehow I managed to properly prepare for it. I noticed that the forecast predicted a thunderstorm that would last for only an hour (from 8-9pm) and by my calculations I was going to get there at around 7:30. (The bands I wanted to see were the Editors and Nick Cave). Now, I remembereded that Water Square had a covered space on its right side (where most of the bars usually are) and I thought that if worse comes to worst, I would head straight for that particular place. My plans actually worked out, I was indeed there at 7:30, I met some of my friends near the front of the stage and I could see the thunderstorm approaching from the south. When I felt the first drops of rain, I immediately headed for the sheltered space and stayed there for the duration of the thunderstorm which was indeed a fierce one and, as predicted, lasted for only an hour.
 
Now, I have been in a situation that seemed worse, namely a Bruce Springsteen concert in Florence under a rain that lasted for three hours, but this was different. The rain in Florence was just rain. The situation in Athens back in June was a thunderstorm, meaning there was thunder and lightning and the danger of being struck by a thunderbolt was considerable. However, after the storm I once again emerged in the open, completely dry. It was then that it was announced through the speakers that the festival would go on, with Editors appearing at 10 with Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds to follow. I have already mentioned that the gig was ruined for some people. These were the people that got soaking wet during the thunderstorm, left the venue and went home thinking that the festival was going to be canceled. And they blame the promoters that they did not announce that the gig was going to go on (During the thunderstorm the stage was covered and there was a power failure so maybe that's why no announcements were made from the speakers). There were others that went home, changed clothes and came back (thankfully re-admission was allowed).
So, as I came out into the open after the storm I noticed that I couldn't get too close to the stage, because a huge pool had been formed, so I decided to watch the gig from further back as I had done with Thievery Corporation.

At 10pm promptly, Editors came on stage playing a rather short set (well, it was certainly shorter than expected from the act before the headliners, but that was probably due to the fact that the festival was way behind schedule by then). I wanted to see them, since they are quite popular in Greece, but for me there were just another one of those bands I have seen at festivals while waiting to see another one.
After the Editors finished their set, the stage was being prepared for Nick Cave who we thought was going to appear soon. However, this procedure lasted for quite a long time (this was probably for the best since the end result turned out to be formidable) and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds came on stage exactly at the stroke of midnight. All the obstacles we had faced up until then were forgotten as he launched into a full two hour set featuring most of his (and our) favourites. Our only loss were the projection screens. They were working (albeit intermittently) during the Editors set, but went completely blank while Nick Cave was performing.



Going home was a daunting task since the festival finished at 2am, but finally seeing Nick Cave live, somehow made everything worth it!


SETLISTS:
EDITORS
01. Hallelujah (So Low)
02. Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors
03. An End Has a Start
04. Munich
05. Violence
06. No Harm
07. Sugar
08. The Racing Rats
09. Papillon
10. Magazine

NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS
01. Jesus Alone
02. Magneto
03. Do You Love Me
04. From Her to Eternity
05. Loverman
06. Red Right Hand
07. The Ship Song
08. Into My Arms
09. Girl in Amber
10. Tupelo
11. Jubilee Street
12. The Weeping Song
13. Stagger Lee
14. Push the Sky Away
Encore:
15. The Mercy Seat
16. Rings of Saturn


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

The second time I saw Marsheaux

It had already been more than a year since the OMD gig in Athens when I discovered Marsheaux and the time had finally come to see them for a second time. The gig was a free one, part of an exhibition at Technopolis called Athens Digital Week. And this time they were not the support band so I hoped they would play for a bit more time. They did, but only just. (You have to remember they had only released two albums at that time).
I arrived at Technopolis, just as the gig was starting. The synths were playing and I could see the shadows of Marianthi and Sophie as they were preparing to come on stage. 
I really enjoyed that particular gig and I took quite a few videos which were some of the first I ever posted on YouTube. Unfortunately, I managed to ruin a couple of them in the process by singing along (mainly "The Promise"). Being a YouTube newbie, I did not realize that I would be heard over the music. 
Over the years, I have taken many videos at concerts where people were singing along and I have often wondered why it was my voice only that could be heard on these early videos. And then it dawned on me: I was probably the only person that knew the full lyrics by heart. At that time I was a member of a Marsheaux fan forum on the internet and for a while I was the only Greek in there. 
I also took a few photos as well which you will notice that they are quite dark. It was indeed very dark there. There were no stage lights and in fact the only light was coming from the projection screen at the back of the stage. And as I was sitting at the very first row I didn't think it was proper to use a flash. Apart from stage lights there were other things missing on that night: changing rooms. As a result of that, Marsheaux, whose stage outfits are usually quite spectacular, performed wearing their everyday clothes.
The main reason however that this particular gig was special for me was that I met Marsheaux (as well as Nick and George from UNDO Records and Fotonovela) after it had finished and took a couple of photos with them.
I would have to wait three more years to see them again, playing support to Thirty Seconds To Mars.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

MTV GR Day


10 years ago, MTV Greece was launched. And this was done with a free concert at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens (which had been the venue for the Rock In Athens festival back in 1985). The line-up was quite impressive: REM, Kaiser Chiefs, Gabriella Cilmi and C-Real (a Greek band).
You will notice, at the end of this post, that there was a ticket issued. How come, you may wonder, since this was a free concert? Well, what happened was this: As people were approaching the stadium, they were handed this particular ticket which had a "nominal value" of €0.20 (of course, no one paid that amount). And then, they were let in. And it's great as a souvenir, 10 years after the event.

The concert was broadcast live at various MTV channels around the world so the sets had to comply to the TV format, meaning that C-Real, Gabriella Cilmi and Kaiser chiefs played 30 minute sets with enough time left over after each one ended for commercials, interviews etc. REM, on the other hand, played a full 90-minute set, and although that might have been a bit shorter than their usual sets, they still managed to overrun its intended duration with an encore


And between sets, we were treated to different happenings such as the debut of the Greek MTV presenters who were selected after an audition, presenters from other MTV channels, plus a guide to Athens and an REM interview that were also broadcast through the big screens that were set up in the stadium on that day. 

 
But what I mostly remember among all these and several commercials was the repeated screening of Kid Rock's video "All Summer Long" which sampled Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and its lyrics invoked good feelings, nostalgia and the simple things in life back in 1989 when "we didn't have no internet" (that's a double negative, by the way, Kid) and...

"we were trying different things
We were smoking funny things
Making love out by the lake to our favorite song
Sipping whiskey out the bottle
Not thinking 'bout tomorrow
Singing Sweet home Alabama all summer long"



First on stage where C-Real whom I had seen two years before at the Olympic Stadium supporting Shakira. People argued about whether they were suitable for this event, but this was MTV Greece after all, and a Greek band had to be featured.


Next up was Gabriella Cilmi, from Australia with Italian origins. She had a big hit at the time "Sweet About Me". She also treated us to a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" at the end of her set.


Then, it was time for Kaiser Chiefs, a band that a lot of people in the audience had come to see. Their singer kept prancing about the stage even climbing up towards the stage lights (surely, that had to be dangerous) and before each song announced that "we are the Kaiser Chiefs" (I mean, I'm sure we already knew that by then).



And finally, it was time for REM. I had seen already seen them nine years before when they had come to Athens (that is Athens, Greece, not their native Athens, Georgia). Nothing could beat that performance of course with its epic 7 minute version of "It's The End Of The World As We Know It" at the end and Michael Stipe singing "Happy Birthday" to everyone who had their birthday on that day, but it was still pretty good and a very lucky chance to see them for a second time, especially considering that a few years later they disbanded.


And so it was that MTV GR Day was finally over and we went home where we had the chance to watch it again and again on MTV Greece which repeated it a few times. I had set my DVD Recorder for it and I'm, sure I have the DVD somewhere.

Sadly, like REM, MTV Greece is no more. It was closed a few years ago. But we will always remember the day we got to watch - for free - REM and Kaiser Chiefs and discovered Gabriella Cilmi.


SETLISTS
 
Gabriella Cilmi
01. Got No Place To Go
02. Sanctuary
03. Cry Me A River
04. Sweet About Me
05. Don't Want To Go To Bed Now
06. Terrifying
07. Save The Lies
08. Whole Lotta Love
 
Kaiser Chiefs
01. Never Miss A Beat
02. Everyday I Love You Less And Less
03. You Want History
04. Ruby
05. Half The Truth
06. I Predict A Riot
07. The Angry Mob

REM
01. Living Well Is The Best Revenge
02. What's The Frequency, Kenneth?
03. Drive
04. Man-Sized Wreath
05. Ignoreland
06. Bad Day
07. Hollow Man
08. Electrolite
09. (Don't Go Back To) Rockville
10. The Great Beyond
11. The One I Love
12. She Just Wants To Be
13. Losing My Religion
14. Let Me In
15. Horse To Water
16. Orange Crush
17. Imitation Of Life
Encore:
18. Supernatural Superserious
19. It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
20. Man on the Moon

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Your disco needs you - Kylie Minogue live in Athens in 2008


As I was writing my latest blog spot in the series of "gigs I attended 10 years ago" (the Madonna concert), I realized that there was another pop queen I saw live in that particular year (2008) and I forgot to write a post about it! It was of course Kylie Minogue, who came to prominence in 1988, a bit later than Madonna.
Her concert did not take place at a big stadium but at Terra Vibe Park instead. Now, this was the second time I went to Terra Vibe. The first was for Depeche Mode back in 2006 which was a traumatic experience. The park was filled to capacity (maybe over capacity) and we arrived quite late. The result was that there were so many people and I was at the back and I could not see absolutely anything. You see, Terra Vibe is a park not a proper concert venue so there's no gradual elevation. All I could see were the heads of the people in front of me.
This time, however there weren't so many people and after we walked about 1.5km from the car park for what seemed like ages, we managed to find an elevated area, so if everything went wrong we would still be able to see the stage.

Kylie sang several songs from her current album of that time "X" but did not forget the old hits. My personal favourites were "Shocked", which was one of her last singles with Stock/Aitken/Waterman, presented in my favourite version, the DNA mix as featured in the 12inch single I had bought at the time and "Your Disco Needs You" an amazing song which as far as I can remember was criminally not released as a single in the UK, but I discovered it as a B-side on one of her CD singles.
The ending of course couldn't be anything else than "I Should Be So Lucky".
After that, we had to face the usual Terra Vibe torture: trying to get out of the car park (It is said that this is a procedure that can last longer than the actual concert!)

So 2008, was the year that I saw two pop queens live: Kylie, and, 4 months later, Madonna!


SETLIST:
01. Speakerphone
02. Can't Get You Out of My Head
03. Ruffle My Feathers
04. In Your Eyes
05. Heart Beat Rock
06. Wow
07. Shocked (DNA Mix)
08. Loveboat
09. Copacabana (At the Copa)
10. Spinning Around
11. Like a Drug
12. Slow
13. 2 Hearts
14. Flower
15. I Believe in You (Ballad)
16. On a Night Like This
17. Your Disco Needs You
18. Kids
19. Step Back in Time
20. In My Arms
Encore:
21. No More Rain
22. Love at First Sight
23. I Should Be So Lucky

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Madonna, Sticky & Sweet, live in Athens in 2008


The first time we heard rumours of a Madonna concert in Athens was in 1998, after the one by The Rolling Stones. This would have been perfect because her current album at that time was "Ray Of Light", her best one in my opinion. It wasn't to be. However, three albums (and ten years) later she did come to Greece. Which was also ten years ago, hence the occasion for this blog post.
When the concert was announced I was in Paris to see Bruce Springsteen for the first time. A friend of mine called me and asked me if I could get her tickets for the Madonna concert in Paris, because the ones in Athens were selling like crazy and there were none left. I almost panicked, but realizing that there was nothing I could do while I was in France, I decided to worry about it when I returned to Greece. 
So when I did come back to Athens, I realized that what had happened was this: All the TV celebrities, along with their fans and the people who worshipped them had rushed to buy tickets even though they only listen to Greek music for the rest of the year. They just wanted to go to a Madonna concert to see who else was there and also to be seen (usually on TV, or the gossip columns). The result was that the server went down. However, there were some tickets left and since I wasn't interested in seeing this particular concert from up close, I bought a ticket for a seat on the opposite side of the stadium. As you will see, this turned out to be a good decision.
On the day of the concert, I had the flu accompanied by a fever. So I did what I always did when I had to work, or had exams in such a case: Just before I left home, I swallowed a couple of Panadol tablets hoping that they would last me through the length of the concert. And they almost did. The weather wasn't helping, as there was a light drizzle on that night, nor did the fact that my seat was on the upper tier of the stadium. However, when the stadium was revamped for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, a specially designed roof was placed on top designed by architect Santiago Calatrava and this gave me shelter from the rain.
Artists like Madonna (and Kylie Minogue and Lady GaGa among others but even Roger Waters) don't so much do "a concert" but "a show". The problem with this is that the setlist cannot easily be changed. So when somebody told me a few days before the concert that the setlist had been "leaked", I pointed out that the setlist is usually the same throughout the tour. And that means that if you buy the official DVD of the tour it is possible to almost "re-live" that moment. (And that was one of the reasons I bought the Sticky & Sweet Tour DVD later). Anyway, I found the "leaked" setlist, but I only just peeked at it. Honest. So, when a Greek pop singer complained to a TV reporter who interviewed him as he was exiting the stadium after the concert that Madonna didn't play "Frozen", it's not because she didn't want to play it that night but because she hadn't included it in the tour setlist.
Another issue with this type of concert shows is that there are bound to be some pre-recorded parts. Madonna used some pre-recorded music and videos between sections of the show but that doesn't mean that all instruments were pre-recorded like they do at the Eurovision Song Contest. As a friend of mine who was close to the stage, there were musicians on stage, they just weren't in the spotlight. And a pre-recorded bit I did spot was on a particular song (I have forgotten which one it was now, it's been after all ten years) where Madonna sings (live) and a pre-recorded sample of her voice answers her phrase. There are actually pre-recorded parts in almost all concerts, even rock ones, it's just that we don't know much about them.
Anyway, as I entered the stadium and found the way to my seat, Robyn, the support singer was already on stage, singing her hit "Show Me Love". I thought she looked a bit different and I thought "Show Me Love" sounded a bit different, until I realized that I was confusing her with Robyn S, a singer who also had a hit called "Show Me Love" in the 90's.

Madonna did follow that "leaked" setlist as usual (which I am sure had been carefully pre-planned and considered before the tour) and gave us two hours of fun. And she tried to get some audience participation when she urged us to sing along with her "ooh-ooh"'s but with out much success. As one gossip mag commented after the concert "Dear Maddy, we are not sheep so that we can be commanded to go ooh-ooh whenever you want us to". Unfortunately what the columnist did not realize was that Madonna did not see us as sheep, nor did she want us to be her bitches, she was merely trying to get us to sing along with the hook of "Let's All Chant", a big 70's disco hit by The Michael Zager Band. But of course you can't expect a gossip journalist who only listens to the current Greek "hits" and the day of the concert was the only day that they listened to pop music, to know this particular song.


As the concert was drawing to a close my fever returned. But of course, by then I didn't mind. All I had to do was get on public transport (and a taxi) and go straight to bed, having finally achieved my goal: I had seen Madonna live!



SETLIST:
01. Candy Shop
02. Beat Goes On
03. Human Nature
04. Vogue
05. Into The Groove
06. Heartbeat
07. Borderline
08. She's Not Me
09. Music
10. Devil Wouldn't Recognize You
11. Spanish Lesson
12. Miles Away
13. La Isla Bonita
14. You Must Love Me
15. 4 Minutes
16. Like A Prayer
17. Ray Of Light
18. Express Yourself
19. Hung Up
20. Give It 2 Me


Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Stereo Nova @ Summer Nostos Festival

In the 90's we had Greek hip-hop (not only Imiskoubria, who I eventually saw two years ago, but also Going Through, Terror-X-Crew and Active Member among others) and we also had Greek techno, which came in the form of Stereo Nova who, like their hip-hop counterparts mentioned above, were using Greek lyrics. That didn't stop them from getting featured on MTV Europe. Unfortunately they disbanded before the millennium. They reunited ten years ago for just one gig but I somehow managed to miss that. This year though they had a proper reunion with a new album as well. And this time I was not going to miss it.
It was still winter when it was announced that they were going to appear at the Summer Nostos Festival. This festival is absolutely free and is held at the newly built Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center which houses the Greek National Opera, the National Library Of Greece as well as a large park. And it is at this park that the festival was held.
We arrived quite early and realized that not many people had arrived before us. That meant that we could secure our places right at the front of the stage. And that's exactly what we did. 
Meanwhile, more people were coming while the music played by the DJ made this feel like a true 90's party.
The two presenters announced Stereo Nova early on (at least one hour before they came on stage) as "the event that we have been waiting for for the last 20 years" (It was actually 10 as I have already mentioned above). 
The very same presenters appeared again when it was finally time for the group to appear.
It was indeed what we had been waiting for. Not only did they play the familiar songs from the 90's but also several from the new album which is one of the best I've heard this year.
I heard several people saying that they felt like they had gone back in time. Indeed, like the DJ set that preceded it, the gig felt like a 90's party as well!


Apart from that the venue is simply great, perfect for the Athenian summer, the festival is, as I have already mentioned, free and on top of that it lasts for a week so there's bound to be something for everyone especially if you take into account the fact that it doesn't only feature concerts but also sports events and other activities. Let's wait and see what it will feature next year!

SETLIST:
01. Telson
02. Nea Zoi
03. 3000 meres
04. Atlas
05. Isorropia
06. Enas Megalos Kosmos
07. Mathima
08. Ena klemmeno podilato
09. Video Club
10. Den allazo ta icheia mou
11. To Taxidi Tis Falainas
12. Assymetri Diataxi
13. Ta Dentra
14. Motokouzi
15. Proastia
16. Ti Vi O
17. Ouranos
18. Nea Moda
19. Mikro Agori
20. To Puzzle Ston Aera