Thursday, 23 May 2013

Seeing Bruce Springsteen live in Italy...A religious experience!

It is the obvious and cheapest choice really for those of us living in Greece. The airfares are usually cheap (especially if you book in advance) for one thing. And there's also something about the Italian fans... I met and made friends not only through the internet, but also in person of Springsteen fans from many different countries but most of them are from Italy. We Greeks seem to connect a lot with the Italians. One could say "they are more passionate", but Scandinavian fans are also passionate and loyal too and that's why Bruce often plays gigs in cities in Sweden or Norway with a population that is roughly twice the capacity of the venue...and they are sold out! But the Italians are somehow different, at least for us Greeks! What's more, Bruce always makes the extra effort to speak quite a bit in Italian between songs when he plays there. Of course, his family, on the side of his mother is from Italy, but he himself does not speak the language.
Anyway, my Italian affair with Bruce started on a Sunday, the 19th of July 2009 in Rome where at least 60 Greeks were gathered in the pit for this "historic" concert

01. Badlands
02. Out in the Street
03. No Surrender
04. She's the One
05. Working on a Dream
06. Seeds
07. Johnny 99
08. Atlantic City
09. Raise Your Hand
10. Hungry Heart
11. Pink Cadillac
12. I'm On Fire
13. Surprise, Surprise
14. Prove It All Night
15. Waitin' on a Sunny Day
16. The Promised Land
17. American Skin (41 Shots)
18. Lonesome Day
19. The Rising
20. Born to Run
21. My City of Ruins
22. Thunder Road
23. You Can't Sit Down
24. Bobby Jean
25. Dancing in the Dark
26. Twist And Shout

My 2nd stop was two days later in Torino where I had the privilege to experience one of those rare occasions when Bruce plays "Drive All Night"

01. Loose Ends
02. Badlands
03. Hungry Heart
04. Outlaw Pete
05. Working on the Highway
06. Working on a Dream
07. Murder Incorporated
08. Johnny 99
09. American Skin (41 Shots)
10. Raise Your Hand
11. Travelin' Band
12. Drive All Night
13. Two Hearts
14. My Love Will Not Let You Down
15. Waitin' on a Sunny Day
16. The Promised Land
17. My Hometown
18. Backstreets
19. Lonesome Day
20. The Rising
21. Born to Run
22. Land of Hope and Dreams
23. American Land
24. Glory Days
25. Dancing in the Dark
26. Twist And Shout

And two days after that I was off to Udine, which was the last time I saw Clarence Clemons...

01. Sherry Darling
02. Badlands
03. Hungry Heart
04. Outlaw Pete
05. Darlington County
06. Something In The Night
07. Working On A Dream
08. Murder Incorporated
09. Johnny 99
10. No Surrender
11. Raise Your Hand
12. Summertime Blues
13. Be True
14. Streets Of Fire
15. My Love Will Not Let You Down
16. Waitin On A Sunny Day
17. The Promised Land
18. American Skin (41 Shots)
19. Lonesome Day
20. The Rising
21. Born To Run
22. Born In The USA
23. American Land
24. Bobby Jean
25. Dancing In The Dark
26. Twist And Shout

My next date with Bruce was 3 years after that (Well, 2 years, 10 months and 18 days later). The place was Florence and Clarence was no longer with us. About an hour before the concert started someone told us "You see how the wind is blowing? It's blowing towards us. And see what's in front of us? The stage! So if it rains, we'll be protected by it" Yeah, right, famous last words and all that...
I felt shivers down my spine when Ennio Morricone's intro music started playing from the speakers and when Bruce and the band came on stage, first asking "Firenze, siete pronti?" ("Florence, are you ready") and then blasting into "Badlands", it felt like not even one day had passed. These 2 years, 10 months and 18 days had been shrunk to 0 (zero, null).
And then, at the 3rd song the rain started. A rain that would last for the rest of the concert (that's 3 and a half hours to you) and then some as we were trying to get back to our hostel. But no one seem to mind. I didn't see anybody leave. And Bruce, although he could have stayed under cover, protected by the downpour, would come to the front to get wet with us. And right there at the front row, was a very good friend of mine who missed the chance to see Bruce when he came to Greece in 1988 because she was pregnant. 24 years later her wish came true!
In the pit there was also this little girl which is probably Bruce's youngest fan. And she was also in Rome 3 years before that!

01. Badlands
02. No Surrender
03. We Take Care of Our Own
04. Wrecking Ball
05. Death to My Hometown
06. My City of Ruins
07. Spirit in the Night
08. Be True
09. Jack of All Trades
10. Trapped
11. Prove It All Night
12. Honky Tonk Women/Darlington County
13. Burning Love
14. Working on the Highway
15. Shackled and Drawn
16. Waitin' on a Sunny Day
17. Apollo Medley
18. The River
19. The Rising
20. Backstreets
21. Land of Hope and Dreams
22. Rocky Ground
23. Born in the U.S.A.
24. Born to Run
25. Hungry Heart
26. Seven Nights to Rock
27. Dancing in the Dark
28. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
29. Twist And Shout
30. Who'll Stop The Rain

Within one day, we now had to move all the way up north to Trieste for the next concert. OK, so it was not as memorable as Firenze (how could it compare with THAT?) but it was special in its own way. It featured "Thunder Road" for instance and Bruce greeted the audience in Croatian when he got on stage ("Dobro vece Croatia. Kako ste?"). There were indeed lots of people in Trieste from nearby Croatia in the audience

01. Badlands
02. No Surrender
03  We Take Care of Our Own
04. Wrecking Ball
05. Death to My Hometown
06. My City of Ruins
07. Spirit in the Night
08. Downbound Train
09. Jack of All Trades
10. Youngstown
11. Murder Incorporated
12. Johnny 99
13. Working on the Highway
14. Shackled and Drawn
15. Waitin' on a Sunny Day
16. Apollo Medley (The Way You Do The Things You Do/634-5789)
17. The River
18. Because the Night
19. The Rising
20. We Are Alive
21. Thunder Road
22. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
23. Born in the U.S.A.
24. Born to Run
25. Bobby Jean
26. Hungry Heart
27. Seven Nights to Rock
28. Dancing in the Dark
29. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out

Bruce is returning to Italy tonight with a concert in a city square in Napoli. This should indeed be special and I wish I was there! But my schedule for this year features Padova on the 31st of May and Milano on the 3rd of June. He will also play in Roma in July.
See you on the road and also on this blog in June with a report from Padova and Milano!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Before we were so rudely interrupted at Terra Vibe 4 years ago...

As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted 4 years ago...

...Depeche Mode have finally made it to Terra Vibe last Friday. So, did we... all of us? Apparently not, but I promised myself that this time I will not complain about the organizers and I will do my best to keep this promise until the end of this post... Let's see if I succeed!
As I have explained in previous posts, Terra Vibe is a far off place in the open country to the north of Athens, not easily reached by public transport. This should mean that it's better to have a car, but you'd still probably have to park it a far as 6km from the place (yes, it really did happen and the distance was really actually measured), and you might spend up to 2 hours getting out of there (I once saw a couple having sex on - not in - their car while waiting for the Terra Vibe car park to clear so they could get out. Because on top of that there's no lighting so it's pitch dark in there. Unfortunately there was a full moon that night, although I guess that probably made it more romantic). Anyway, for those who don't have a car there are special buses commissioned, some of them from travel agents. There were over 60 buses hired that night according to our driver.and the audience was estimated at 30000.

I chose to get a ticket with the earliest bus (5pm with doors opening at 7pm and concert starting at 9pm) not because I was afraid I would be late, but because I wanted to hang around outside browsing at the stands selling food and unofficial merchandise.

There wasn't really a queue as such outside, just quite a lot of people gathered outside the entrance. There was a second entrance but it was never opened.

The doors did NOT open at the appropriate time but a bit later. When I realized they had been opened, I stood behind the crowd of people gathered (about 20m from the entrance) and waited to get in. It took us about half an hour to go through these 20 metres. And when we finally got in we realized why: They had installed turnstiles behind the main gate. But only 2 turnstiles for 30000 people! (But as i've said, I'm not going to complain on this post)

The first thing some people saw was this stage and they gathered in front of it thinking that they just got themselves FOS privileges!

Since I got in quite early I had the opportunity to wander around the park...

...but finally headed to the check in points for the special tickets.

Mine was the VIP section, the same one I bought on the 2009 concert that never took place (The only difference being that in 2009 the ticket was 100% more expensive than it was now). This is because with this I was sure to be able to see the band, something which I wasn't able to do in 2006 when I went to see Depeche Mode again on Terra Vibe. The crowd was similar and though I heard the entire concert I couldn't see anything and I was lucky I wasn't squashed in that crowd. I usually buy a VIP ticket when I have to go to Terra Vibe because that section is a bit higher up so you get a clear view of the stage.

And so the concert started! The moment that never came in 2009

It was "Welcome To My World", the opening track from their latest album "Delta Machine". Several oldies and favourites came later such as "Walking In My Shoes", "Precious", "Policy Of Truth" and "Black Celebration"

There seemed however to be quite a lot of songs from the new album on the setlist and it was obvious that most of the crowd were not familiar with them

Just before "Heaven" the band played "Happy Birthday" for Dave who had celebrated his 51st birthday the day before (The day of the concert was actually Bono's birthday)

Things picked up towards the end of the main set with "Enjoy The Silence" and an amazing "Personal Jesus" with a Johnny Cash-like intro.

The closer however, "Goodbye", was admittedly an anti-climax...

And so the encore began... with "Home"...

"Predictable", I thought, since it was played both in 2006 and in 2009 in Barcelona. However, just after that, they surprised me with "Halo".
And after that, it was the moment I've been waiting for for 28 years:

"Just Can't Get Enough". Last time I experienced this live was at the "Rock In Athens" festival back in 1985 when a much younger Dave had placed the mike stand between his legs singing "I just can't get it up" instead...

And so it ended with "I Feel You" and "Never Let Me Down Again".
We headed toward the exits and that's when I found out that although the concert started at 9:15, the organizers hadn't managed to get everyone in until 10:30. I know I said I wouldn't complain but this is just too much. I was lucky that I was one of the first people to arrive and got in early, otherwise I would have been furious. But what can we do? The organizers, which are the only company in Greece to bring big names have hired the area that is Terra Vibe Park until 2025 (if we are to believe some stories circulating on the internet). By that time Greece will be back borrowing by the international "markets" (If we are to believe our prime minister). So if the organizers bring our favourite artists there, that's where we'll have to go. We have no choice. And not counting the fact that Terra Vibe is a "security nightmare" as a British friend described it.

01. Welcome To My World
02. Angel
03. Walking In My Shoes
04. Precious
05. Black Celebration
06. Policy Of Truth
07. Should Be Higher
08. Barrel Of A Gun
09. Higher Love (Martin on vocals)
10. When The Body Speaks (Martin on vocals)
11. Heaven
12. Soothe My Soul
13. A Pain That I'm Used To
14. A Question Of Time
15. Secret To The End
16. Enjoy The Silence
17. Personal Jesus
18. Goodbye
19. Home (Martin on vocals)
20. Halo (Martin on vocals)
21. Just Can't Get Enough
22. I Feel You
23. Never Let Me Down Again

Friday, 10 May 2013

Never again is what we swore the time before... so we went to Barcelona!

Never again (at Terra Vibe) is what we swore the time before. May 12 2009 to be exact. Because this is what happened:

We had gone to Terra Vibe, a place in the country outside Athens to see Depeche Mode. But we didn't, for reasons which have been well documented by now. And the day looked so promising:

Of course it was nobody's fault that Dave was seriously ill, but the organizers never seem to make an effort to reschedule a gig that's been cancelled (they did it the same thing with The Rolling Stones in 2006). On top of that Terra Vibe is "a security risk" according to a British friend of mine who had come all the way from the UK to see DM. And if that's not enough, it's not reachable by public transport (coaches have been hired the last few years, but you must take care and buy a ticket for one of them by going in person - not from the internet). OK, so, if you have a car it must be ideal, right? "Wrong" as DM themselves would have said back in 2009, since it's going to take you almost 2 hours to drive out of the parking lot (which ia located a LONG walking distance from where the concert is taking place). So seeing as the organizers were not going to reschedule it when the tour resumed, I decided to go see them in Barcelona in November of the same year

(That's a 2-pint glass of lager by the way. Only in Barcelona!)

And I was lucky to have chosen the time and place where the DVD of that tour was being filmed.

Plus I also discovered 2 other Greeks sitting behind me.
So here is "Personal Jesus" as I filmed it on the night with my camera:

And here it is again, in its official version, as it ended up on the DVD:

The highlight of the evening was of course the very last song "Waiting For The Night" where Martin tries to help Dave on vocals...and ends up singing the wrong verse

So why this retrospective? Well, today, Depeche Mode are playing at Terra Vibe again! And contrary to what I said the time before (I think it was "never again"), I couldn't resist buying a ticket. Let's hope this time everything goes well. The weather report doesn't look too promising...but maybe we shouldn't be thinking about that!
Until then, I will always have Barcelona and Palau San Jordi...

Thursday, 9 May 2013

TEXAS BBQ (The Western Ramblers - Part 4)

And finally here's something (a bit) different. The Western Ramblers and The Duo Jet Band played live at this event. But it wasn't just about music.
There was coffee and Western Pies by Kiss Lorraine. Also a Retro Bazaar by Dazzlin' Gal & Friends. The Broadway Scent Barbershop was there to take care your 50's Hair Style. Plus a DJ set from Dj Mississippi Outlaw. But the most important thing was that you could enjoy all that while eating tasty Burgers & Hot dogs!,(With lots of beer of course!)