Monday, 7 January 2019

Queen + Paul Rodgers in London 2008


You have probably noticed by now that a large percentage of my concert posts are about Bruce Springsteen. Yes, Bruce Springsteen is my favourite solo artist. However, my favourite band, and this was long before I discovered Bruce Springsteen, was Queen. Unfortunately, by the time I moved to the UK in 1988 they were no longer touring. And three years after that, we lost Freddie. Not only that, but on that day, the Greeks suddenly discovered Queen. Yes, the same people who were teasing me and bullying me for listening to "that faggot" were now talking about "a sad day for music" and "a great loss". Go figure. So, I never got the chance to see them live although I got lots of video tapes and DVD's. And as a hardcore fan, Queen were not just about Freddie Mercury to me and I kept following the solo careers of Brian May and Roger Taylor over the years. So when I learned that they had teamed up with Paul Rodgers (of Bad Company and Free) as a lead singer for a new album and a tour and was also offered a pre-sale link for their November 2008 London concert I jumped at the chance. OK, so I could not see Freddie live, but why not see Brian and Roger live? The truth is, I had seen both of them in person in 2001 at the traffic lights at the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street opposite the Dominion Theatre where the "We Will Rock You" musical was playing. But this was a chance to see them perform. And not just perform, but perform Queen songs. And what's more Paul Rodgers was a respectable stand-in for Freddie, since he was not just a singer, but a rock singer, from a similar era.
And so, 10 years ago, in November 2008, I flew to London for this great gig. It was also the first time I was visiting the O2 Arena, which I had known as The Millennium Dome 8 years before that.
And yes, I saw what I wanted to see: Queen songs, but also Free and Bad Company songs since Paul was the lead singer. And I even saw a bit of Freddie. He appeared on the video screens not only on "Bohemian Rhapsody" (you can't have "Bohemian Rhapsody" without Freddie) but also on "Bijou". Because the band performed songs that Queen had never performed live, songs from "The Miracle" and "Innuendo" albums, like "I Want It All" and "The Show Must Go On". And there were also songs from the "The Cosmos Rocks" album which they had released with Paul Rodgers at the time. Apart from Paul singing his Free and Bad Company songs, Roger got his moment taking centre stage for a drum solo and "I'm In Love With My Car" (on which he sang the lead vocals on the "A Night At The Opera" album anyway) and Brian also had his own place in the spotlight with a guitar solo and his solo hit "Last Horizon". Somewhere at that point, Brian told the audience that in whichever city they were playing, they would play a local song. So what could they play at the O2 Arena then? A cover of "Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner" to which the audience sang along.






And like the original Queen gigs it all ended with "We Will Rock You", "We Are The Champions" and "God Save The Queen".
All in all it was great entertainment for a Friday night, but before going home early on Sunday morning I also had the chance to see the Monty Python musical "Spamalot" on Saturday night. An amazing London weekend!


SETLIST:
01. Hammer To Fall
02. Tie Your Mother Down
03. Fat Bottomed Girls
04. Another One Bites The Dust
05. I Want It All
06. I Want To Break Free
07. C-lebrity
08. Surf's Up... School's Out!
09. Seagull
10. Maybe It's Because I'm a Londoner
11. Love Of My Life
12. '39
13. Drum Solo
14. I'm In Love With My Car
15. A Kind Of Magic
16. Say It's Not True
17. Voodoo
18. Bad Company
19. We Believe
20. Guitar Solo
21. Bijou
22. Last Horizon
23. Radio Ga Ga
24. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
25. The Show Must Go On
26. Bohemian Rhapsody
Encore:
27. Cosmos Rockin'
28. All Right Now
29. We Will Rock You
30. We Are The Champions
God Save The Queen

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Little Steven And The Disciples Of Soul in Rome


What do we do when Bruce Springsteen is not on tour? Well, we go to see one of the E Street members solo tours of course! The truth is, that I had never seen any other of the E Streeters live but Steve Van Zandt had built a strong case for himself. He already had a solo career after he had left the band in the 80's and on top of that he had a brand new (and exceptionally good) album out "Soulfire" and he was on tour with his band The Disciples Of Soul. I didn't manage to see them during the 2017 leg of their European tour, but another leg was promised for this summer and Stevie didn't disappoint.
As a taster of the gig to come, I had the chance to see the man himself the day before at the Hard Rock Cafe in Rome. He used his iPod to play a dj set of his favourite songs, starting with Bruce's "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out".




We would have spent more time with him but the problem was that the few people who had gathered at The Hard Rock Cafe were pushing to get an autograph or a selfie and as a result he started feeling claustrophobic and had to leave twice towards the safe haven of the kitchen (He didn't even finish his drink).

And all this happened on a very rainy night in Rome which left me thinking about whether the weather would be good enough the next night.

Well, I needn't have worried. The next morning was sunny and bright, a typical Roman summer day! And the venue was wonderful, an amazing park in the suburbs of Rome. As an added bonus the band's live album "Soulfire Live" was available at the merchandise stand and I had the chance to buy it before it was officially available!



Finally, Little Steven And The Disciples Of Soul came up on stage, a little bit late, but they rewarded us with a 2 1/2 hour set.







And this was a unique experience because as Stevie himself said "this is a history of the music we were listening as we were growing up". He used the introductions to the songs to tell us more about each one and in fact, when introducing "The City Weeps Tonight" he explained what doo-wop is and how it came about. So he played different kinds of songs and different kinds of music throughout his set including of course several covers. What I did not expect to hear though was a U2 cover! He even did that by playing a cover of "Out Of Control"!
And so, after almost 150 minutes of music Stevie said goodbye and I went off in the Roman night towards the city centre and finally to Trastevere, a mission made easy by the city's night bus system. (I actually met some interesting people from all over the world outside the Termini station while I was waiting for my second night bus of the night, the one towards my room in Trastevere).
All in all, it was a wonderful experience, a great conclusion to my 4-day summer trip to Rome and what's more it can be relived again and again by playing the Soulfire Live triple CD that I bought on the night!



SETLIST:
01. Sweet Soul Music
02. Soulfire
03. Lyin' In A Bed Of Fire
04. Inside Of Me
05. The Blues Is My Business
06. Love On The Wrong Side Of Town
07. Until The Good Is Gone
08. Angel Eyes
09. Some Things Just Don't Change
10. Under The Gun
11. Saint Valentine's Day
12. Standing In The Line Of Fire
13. I Saw The Light
14. Salvation
15. The City Weeps Tonight
16. Down And Out In New York City
17. Princess Of Little Italy
18. Ride The Night Away
19. Bitter Fruit
20. Forever
21. I Don't Want To Go Home
22. Out Of Control
23. Out Of The Darkness

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Roger Waters - Us+Them @ Circo Massimo


Spring 2018 had come and I had yet to decide on my summer concerts in Italy. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to see Little Steven And The Disciples Of Soul who I had missed last year. I was sure they were going to play Italy in the summer because they had made a promise when they cancelled one of their winter shows. Meanwhile, I was thinking about Roger Waters and his Us+Them show. I had seen him several times but only playing his Wall show. But would it be worth a trip just for this? And secretly, I was hoping for a gig in Athens, in fact I was almost certain of a gig in Athens, since he has a house in Greece and he had played 4 gigs here on The Wall Live tour. The popularity of the first three however was overestimated by the promoters who invited him back for a fourth one two years later for an open air concert in which the stadium ended up being only half full. And this was perhaps what made them decide not to risk an appearance on his latest tour
Well, luck was on my side and Little Steven announced a Rome gig 4 days after Roger's Circo Massimo show. The decision was made for me and I bought tickets for both gigs and I was off on a 5-day trip to Rome. I had been to Circo Massimo once before, to see The Rolling Stones four years ago and to save myself from worrying about public transport I had booked a room that was at a guest house that was within walking distance of Circo Massimo and in the heart of Trastevere. I booked a room at the same place once again, and I was good to go.
Ads about the concert greeted me as far back as the airport as I got off the plane.
So after I went to my room and got a bit of a rest, I made my way to Circo Massimo. I managed to find a "place" or a "space" if you prefer, higher up, but close to the stage so I would be able to see and waited for the show to start. There were already projections on the big stage screen before the concert began.
Once the show started, it was evident that it was going to follow The Wall Live format, meaning that the projections on the screen would be used to accompany and enhance the songs played. Only this time, there would be songs from all the Roger Waters era Pink Floyd catalogue and not just from The Wall. As far as Roger's solo work was concerned though, only songs from his latest album "Is This The Life We Really Want" were played.





There was even a break in the middle of the concert but it was only a break from the music because projections were still being shown on the screen. Exactly the same thing that had happened on The Wall Live tour. This time the projections had a "resist" theme and for the duration of the break it was explained to us what exactly we should resist.

Roger and his band came back after the break with songs from Animals while the Battersea Power Plant from the cover of the aforementioned album featured heavily on the screen.

And then of course, there were the usual flying pigs.


All in all, it was not only just another brick in the wall, but it was also nice to hear songs from my other favourite Pink Floyd albums: "The Dark Side Of The Moon", "Wish You Were Here" and "Animals". The only drawback was that the fans near me could not decide if they wanted to watch the concert standing up or sitting down. I would be very happy to sit down, especially after my morning trip, but when I and others did so, there were others in front of us who stood back up. And then others behind us would ask us to sit back down again. Oh well...
In the end, there was also an encore of two songs where a laser and fireworks show predominated.
And so, I left Circo Massimo to go back to my room. The following day the World Cup Final was taking place and two days after that it would be time for Little Steven And The Disciples Of Soul.


SETLIST:
Intro: Speak to Me
Set 1:
01. Breathe
02. One Of These Days
03. Time
04. Breathe (Reprise)
05. The Great Gig In The Sky
06. Welcome To The Machine
07. Déjà Vu
08. The Last Refugee
09. Picture That
10. Wish You Were Here
11. The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
12. Another Brick In The Wall Part 2
13. Another Brick In The Wall Part 3
Set 2:
14. Dogs
15. Pigs (Three Different Ones)
16. Money
17. Us And Them
18. Smell The Roses
19. Brain Damage
20. Eclipse
Encore:
21. Mother
22. Comfortably Numb

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