Tuesday, 21 March 2017

''The more you drink, the better we sound'' (The Big Nose Attack @ Gazarte Roof Stage)

This is what Boogie Man told the audience on Thursday, the 9th of March at Gazarte Roof Stage. And we didn't need to drink to appreciate The Big Nose Attack. I know I've already seen them many times but it sounded like a good idea to see them once again at this particular venue which gives you a magnificent view of Athens.
Another reason for going to this gig was that I wanted to get my hands on one of those pizza shaped USB sticks the band have released that features their complete discography for only 10 euros (a snip!).
As you can see they're awesome, and I must admit I do get confused sometimes...
Anyway, I went there straight after work so I missed the first 10 minutes. Because of this, as I was approaching Gazarte I could hear the sound of The Big Nose Attack coming from inside!



Once inside, however, it was once again magnificent. They played songs from all their 3 albums and the obligatory "Foxy Lady"



I had to leave during the very last song because of a strike on the metro, so I had to walk to catch another line that was operating normally.
All in all, I had a great time, and for once more my first gig of the year was by The Big Nose Attack.


Sunday, 26 February 2017

Santorini 1991 - You never forget your first time!

When there are no concerts to report from, I like to post reports from my travels, as I did last month with Antiparos. Of course usually my travels coincide with my concerts, but I intend to keep the travel posts separate from the concert ones. Anyway, before I discovered Antiparos I used to go to Santorini every summer. I went there every summer for 14 years, from 1991 to 2004, sometimes going twice a year. In the very last year I even found a job there and stayed for the winter.
In 1997 I got my first internet subscription. One of the first things I did was to create my own webpage. My site has not progressed much since then as I tend to post on this very blog instead, but one of its first features was a page dedicated to Santorini. I used the map you can see at the top of this post as background image (which I had scanned from a tourist guide book) and this still captured (using my TV & Video capture card - a very advanced gadget for computers back then!) from a VHS tape which was released back in the 90's.
The rest of the page was filled with my own photos taken using my film camera during my first few summers there from 1991 to 1996,  which were then scanned using a hand-held scanner. On top of that, the sizes of the photos were small in order to comply with the strict bandwidth requirements of that era where the fastest connections were those of 33.6kbps dial-up modems. As a result, don't expect them to be of good quality!

Santorini is at the south of the Cyclades group of islands in the Aegean sea in Greece. Its spreading is 76 sq.km and has a population of 7000. One of its attractions is the volcano, situated opposite the west side of the island.

Fira
Sunset at Ia

Perissa beach

Red Beach

White Beach
Vlyhada beach

The volcano
The volcano's crater

Excavations at Akrotiri
Nightlife at Enigma Club
I hope that soon I will be able to add pictures from later years, properly scanned of course. Meanwhile you can still see the original page here, while we're still waiting for the summer...

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Last summer in Antiparos


With the cold whether we've been having lately, now is the perfect opportunity to look back at some pictures from last summer in Antiparos as the first post of 2017.




Open air cinema "Oliaros" was open again but this year it was showing movies for free. It can be supported by buying snacks and drinks from the bar. I caught a screening of "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead" with Philip Seymour Hoffman.



And what better way to end the night than with a few tequilas at "Loco Coffees & Cocktails"...



Hopefully, we'll be back next year. In the meantime, the original and popular post about Antiparos can be found here in English, while at some point I hope to finally compile a post with photos from all the years that I've been going there...

"Nobody on the road
Nobody on the beach
I feel it in the air
The summer's out of reach
[...] empty streets
The sun goes down alone..."


Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 Lemons later...

A lemon. Having travelled all the way from Athens, Greece, it finally came to rest under one of the seats of Manchester's Etihad Stadium, having seen its favourite band, The Stone Roses live...
Several years ago, I was warned by a fellow blogger, to avoid writing a "Year In Review" post at the end of the year. So I'll try not to do that. (And I hope that she'll probably be reading this from somewhere in Poland). I won't mention every gig I went to in 2016, but I will instead stop at some key moments that happened this year which I have been waiting for for several years. (As Bruce would say, they've been a lot time coming). These were the "lemons" that I was expecting 2016 to give me on my very first post of the year.
Well, obviously, I finally saw The Stone Roses live this year. And not just anywhere, but in Manchester. And they played the full first album, including, most importantly for me "This Is The One". But what other key moments were there for me in 2016? Bruce? Well, it was only the 12th (and 13th) time that I saw him live. But... I didn't know if I could make it, if I would be able to see him this year. However, I was really looking forward to hear the full River album live, having already heard the full Born To Run in Padova and the full Born In The U.S.A. twice in Milano and in Paris. So, when Bruce announced that after the end of the US tour he would stop playing the full River I was somewhat disappointed. Now what would I get? Another one (or two) of the "Greatest Hits" shows? Was that worth waiting for? My question was answered when Bruce came up on the San Siro stage on the evening of the 3rd of July starting once again with "Land Of Hope And Dreams" exactly as he had done 3 years before in the same stadium. Because once he comes up on stage, no matter what he's playing (even "Pony Boy" I guess), you forget all your doubts, enjoy the show, and wonder why on earth did you ever doubt that you were going to have a good time (again). And he did play most of The River (at least on the first night). Now one of the reasons I was looking forward to a complete performance of The River was that I would be guaranteed to hear one of my favourite songs, "Sherry Darling", which up until then I had experienced only once, in Udine in 2009 (my last concert with Clarence). Bruce did not disappoint me and he played it both nights and I got to hear it for the 2nd and 3rd time. The 2nd time I got to sing along with it at the top of my lungs with no people pushing me. The 3rd time though, i got to dance to it with my girlfriend. So, thanks Bruce!
Another key moment was when I realized I was going to hear "Drive All Night" for only the second time, after my first time in Torino in 2009. And whereas back then, it was just a sign request (albeit a very clever one) we weren't sure if he was going to play it. This year in Milano, there was no warning. The lights were already off and suddenly the piano intro was heard, courtesy of Professor Roy Bittan as a chill went through all over my body. Which left only one thing... "Point Blank"... for the first time ever. I knew when it was supposed to come in the setlist. And the lights went off. And then there was silence for several seconds. And then there was Roy Bittan's piano and I knew that was it.
Yes, there were a lot of important moments for me in 2016, which I realize that was not a very good year for music. But these few ones from Manchester and Milano were the most important for me. I guess that paraphrasing The Stone Roses you could say that "these were the ones I was waiting for"...

Friday, 30 December 2016

One Night @ Remedy


I have been to Remedy Live Club twice in the past for gigs, but this time as I was passing by outside, I thought I'd go in and have a beer and listen to some music.
As my luck would have it though, there was also an (unpublicized) gig scheduled for that night by The Mighty N (you can find them on Bandcamp where you can also buy their album)



And this would prove to be my last gig of 2016, but also the discovery of a great local band!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Leonard Cohen, live in Athens, July 2008


My first experience of Leonard Cohen was a bit strange. Back in the early 80's I was in high school and I used to study with the radio on because, as I told my parents, "music helps me study better" (yeah, right). Now there was a 15-minute radio program then which was targeted at English learners and was probably a BBC production, where a song was played and its lyrics explained by an English presenter. On top of that a Greek presenter would translate his explanation. When the whole song was explained and translated, the show would be repeated, this time without the Greek translation. I remember two particular songs from this show. One was "Blue Suede Shoes" by Carl Perkins (it was funny hearing the presenter trying to explain "one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go cat go" but at least I ended up learning what the word "cat" meant in slang) and the other was "Suzanne" by Leonard Cohen. "Suzanne" was explained beautifully, even why the tea had come "all the way from China". It was a few years later that my mum told me that she really loved "this Canadian singer with the deep voice called Leonard Cohen". When I heard the song she was referring to I first thought it was a Greek song. The harmonies reminded me of the songs of a famous Greek singer of the time. It wasn't Greek though. It was "Dance Me To The End Of Love". And after all the time Leonard had been spending in Greece (he has a house on the island of Hydra) it was inevitable that he would be influenced by the country's music.
He played live in Athens in 1988 when his "I'm Your Man" album had been released and I somehow managed to miss that. A few months later Tanita Tikaram broke into the UK charts who cited Cohen as one of her major influences. And one of his backing singers on the "I'm Your Man" album, Jennifer Warnes, would release "Famous Blue Raincoat", an album of Cohen covers. However, it would take Cohen four more years to release another album. I was living in London by then, and I saw him at the Royal Albert Hall a few months after "The Future" had been released. Incredibly enough, the people sitting behind me were Greek, too! It would take him a long time to start touring again, but in 2008 I finally saw him in Athens.
It was a little over a month since I had seen Bruce Springsteen live for the first time in Paris and I was surprised that Leonard also played for three hours even with a 20 minute break. Amazing, considering he was already 74 by then! He treated us to all our favourite songs, backed by a very good band and some wonderful female backing singers, who he treated just like the gentleman he was.
"Dance Me To The End Of Love" was the first video I ever uploaded on YouTube and because it was featured on the Speaking Cohen site it got 3000 views.

It was a beautiful summer night, it was a great concert and this was the last time I would ever see Leonard. As always, it was hard to get to and back from Terra Vibe, but I will always remember it.
Goodbye Leonard. Have a nice trip. Stay safe up there at the tower of song...



SETLIST

First Set
01. Dance Me to the End of Love
02. The Future
03. Ain't No Cure for Love
04. Bird on the Wire
05. Everybody Knows
06. In My Secret Life
07. Who by Fire
08. Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye
09. Anthem
   
Second Set
10. Tower of Song
11. Suzanne
12. The Gypsy's Wife
13. Boogie Street
14. Hallelujah
15. Democracy
16. I'm Your Man
17. Take This Waltz
   
Encore:
18. So Long, Marianne
19. First We Take Manhattan
   
Encore 2:
20. Sisters of Mercy
21. If It Be Your Will
22. Closing Time
   
Encore 3:
23. I Tried to Leave You
24. Famous Blue Raincoat
25. Whither Thou Goest
   

   

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The greatest live album of all time


    
30 years ago, the best live album ever was released. Yes, that's Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band's "Live 1975-85". The first Springsteen album I saw on the Greek music press was "Darkness On The Edge Of Town". The first album from which I heard songs on the radio was "The River" (and yes, the first song I heard was "Hungry Heart"). And the first album I owned was, of course, "Born In The U.S.A". I was gradually becoming a fan while reading the lyrics of that album, but it was this 5 LP set that made me the big fan that I am today.
Before it came out, I bought the 12'' single that preceded it, "War", thinking that I could probably not afford to buy the whole album. This was a very wise purchase as it also featured "Merry Christmas Baby" and an amazing 10 minute version of "Incident On 57th Street". Thankfully, when It did come out, the price was pretty reasonable so I bought it at once. I had already heard of his famous 3 hour live shows so this album was, as I believed then, the closest I could get to that experience. Indeed, I would have to wait nearly 22 years to finally see Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band live in person!
I was probably already hooked after the first few notes of "Thunder Road" and that is why, to this day, this is my favourite version. Little did I know that the next song "Adam Raised A Cain" would be the first song I would hear Bruce play live at the Parc De Princes stadium in Paris, France, on the 27th of June 2007.
Some of the songs I already knew. "Jersey Girl" in this particular version, I already had, as a b-side to the "Cover Me" 12-inch single. "Because The Night" I had already known, like most people, from Patti Smith. And weirdest of all, "Racing In The Street" was featured on Queen drummer Roger Taylor's second solo album "Strange Frontier". Seeing as Queen were (and still are) my favourite band, I had bought that album. "This Is Your Land" I had already heard in a television programme, probably about Woody Guthrie. Plus there was that cover version of "Born To Run" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood on their debut album...
With the help of the 36-page booklet featuring the lyrics of all the tracks, I immersed myself in the songs and the stories that Bruce told in them. And not just the stories in the lyrics but the stories Bruce himself narrated at the beginning, or in the middle of songs (Like the story in "Growin' Up" and its sequel at the beginning of "The River"). They spoke of an America that was totally different of the one I knew from the movies and TV series and the one reported from in the news. That was when I started dreaming of a road trip across the US from one cost to the other, something which I did 14 years later, in the late summer of the year 2000. I made that dream come true and I owe it all to Bruce Springsteen.
I also noticed a couple of songs about murderers that both ended up in the chair ("Nebraska" and "Johnny 99", both of course from the "Nebraska" album, here in much "richer" versions).
Finally, I also started "pairing" songs. What did that mean? Well, I would pick a couple of songs that, in my mind, one complemented the other. Like, for example, "Thunder Road" and "Growin' Up" which I thought that there were both great "opening" song. Now "Thunder Road" was the opener on "Born To Run", but "Growin' Up" was not the opener on "Greetings". I felt, however, that if "Live 1975-85 did not open with "Born To Run", it should open with "Growin' Up".
Another couple were "Sandy" and "Rosalita". That one's easy. They both had girls' names (and brackets) in their titles! Then I had "Badlands" and "Backstreets". Well, they both begin with "B" and end with "S" and they're totally different as far as musical styles are concerned. But I felt somehow that they both told similar stories. Finally there was "10th Avenue Freeze-Out" and "Incident On 57th Street" (And yes, yes, I know "Incident" is not featured on the album, but as I've mentioned before, it's on the b-side of the "War" 12-inch single, which, for me, is part of the whole set). Well, these two both tell stories about something that happened on a certain street (Actually, one of them is on an avenue, but there you go).
Four months later, in early 1987, I would buy the album again! By then, I had a CD player and I could not resist the similar box with 3 CD's instead of 5 LP's. Plus, I was studying in another country at that time and I had of course left the vinyl box set at home.
Fast forward to the noughties when I decided to "complete" my collection. One of the first items I bought when I opened an account on eBay was the 3 cassette box set. And after that, I decided to buy the singles that were released from the album. I got "Fire" on 12-inch vinyl which features "For You" which is not on the album and the CD single of "Born To Run" (which is apparently, the first CD single Bruce ever released)

30 years later, when someone asks me to name my 10 favourite albums (or the 10 records I would take with me on a desert island), "Live 1975-85" is always on both lists. "But, no!" they go, "you have to pick 'proper' albums like 'Born To Run' or 'Darkness On The Edge Of Town', no compilations or live ones". "But it is a proper album!" I insist. "It's just... well, a bit longer!".
Admittedly when you are asked which 10 records you would take with you on a desert island and one of those you pick is... 5 records instead of one, it's cheating, but it's my desert island, so what if my luggage is a little bit... heavier?
Needless to say, every year, i pick a day (usually on a Sunday), when I put on my headphones and listen to the complete album from start to finish...