Sunday, 30 November 2014

Italia 2014 - 3 gigs in 3 days - Day 3 - Motorhead in Milano

Why did I want to see Motorhead? Well my mind sometimes works in this way: "I've seen THIS band, so I've got to see THAT one" (For example : "I've seen Bruce Springsteen, so I've got to see Bryan Adams" - but more about that in a future post). So, back in the early 80's the biggest hard rock - or heavy metal of you like - bands were considered to be by a lot of people AC/DC, Motorhead and Iron Maiden. In fact, one day in 1983 I had bought "Flick Of The Wrist", "Another Perfect Day" and "Piece Of Mind" in the same week. And one year earlier, my best friend and me had decided that I would buy "For Those About To Rock", she would buy "Iron Fist" and then we would give them to each other to record them on cassette. So, I had seen AC/DC live (twice), so I had to see Motorhead. (And yes, I have also seen Iron Maiden). Plus, there is a rumour floating around that Lemmy does not want to come to Greece again because he has some issues with the Greek organizers.
Back to the present, as I was buying my concert tickets for the summer, I discovered that I was so lucky that not only Arcade Fire were playing in Rome the day after The Rolling Stones, but Motorhead were playing the day after Arcade Fire (and once gain in a "Ippodromo" (ie hippodrome). And now it's Tuesday and it's time to take a train to Milano, all the way to the north of the country. It's an ultra fast train, the ticket is cheap because it has been paid in advance online so the journey is a pleasant one. Last year, when I was here for the Bruce Springsteen concert at Stadio San Siro I discovered a very good and cheap hotel only one minute walk from the train station.
So the first step was to find out where Ippodromo City Sound was located. The map revealed this to be halfway to Stadio San Siro as one gets out of the underground station. Now, as I found out last year, Stadio San Siro is quite a long walk from the underground station, but as I got out of the station, I just crossed the road and there it was: Ippodromo City Sound. Meanwhile I had met some Italian Motorhead fans (and a Spanish one) and we decided not to go in but stay outside and have a few beers. As we soon found out, this was a very wise decision because in a short while the heavens opened and it started raining hard. We took cover beside one of the fast food stands, while in the meantime Italy was being eliminated from the World Cup and we could see that on one of the TV sets.
Finally, at some point, it stopped raining and we could finally get inside. The weather was still very humid, the ground was wet and quite muddy, but we managed to get in front. And then Pino Scotto came onstage, which for me was a pleasant surprise and the revelation of the evening. He is an Italian rocker who looks a bit like Ozzy Osbourne (but doesn't necessarily sound like him) and sings in Italian and English. Needless to say the next day, I bought his latest CD.
Then, it was time for Motorhead and I had to move back a little because the area in front of the stage almost became a mosh pit, with people pushing each other (but in a nice way). In fact, the guy who pushed me had such a good-natured look on his face that I wanted to say "thank you"!
It was a very short set (little over an hour), but this is Lemmy so you can forgive him anything. Plus it was full of songs from all eras of the band (including even one song from "Another Perfect Day" - "Rock It") culminating with "Ace Of Spades" as the last song before the encore. 

And for me, the highlight of the evening was when Lemmy announced "Sorry about the World Cup" (not only had Italy just been eliminated, but England as well) and then launched into "Going To Brazil".
And with that, my Italian adventure for this year was over. Well, not yet, because I had one more day to wander around Milan but more about that some other time...

01. Damage Case
02. Stay Clean
03. Metropolis
04. Over the Top
05. Guitar Solo
06. The Chase Is Better Than the Catch
07. Rock It
08. Lost Woman Blues
09. Doctor Rock
      (With drum solo)
10. Just 'Cos You Got the Power
11. Going to Brazil
12. Killed by Death
13. Ace of Spades
14. Overkill

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Italia 2014 - 3 gigs in 3 days - Day 2 - Arcade Fire in Rome

I've been meaning to see Arcade Fire live since The Suburbs album, but never quite had the chance. I remember there was a great gig that I missed at Hyde Park in 2010? Or was it 2011? Anyway, I was lucky that they were playing the day after The Rolling Stones, in the same city.
So first thing in the morning I had to move to another hostel closer to the train station (Roma Termini) as opposed to Circo Massimo. Then I had to figure out how to get to Ippodromo Delle Capannelle. All I knew was that Bruce Springsteen had played there last year. So as soon as I had identified the proper train to take, I was on my way there.
The first thing I noticed once I got out at the station was that the place was quite outside Rome. Plus the venue was quite a few minutes walk from the station.

There would be night buses going back to the city though and I identified the correct bus stop. As soon as I got to the venue though, I found a kiosk from which I could buy a ticket back to the city, on a special last train, after all the other trains had gone. So, with no worries about heading back I was ready to have a beer, walk around the venue and enjoy the gig.

First on the stage were the support band, Antibalas, "a Brooklyn-based afrobeat band that is modeled after Fela Kuti's Africa 70 band and Eddie Palmieri's Harlem River Drive Orchestra" as they are described in Wikipedia.
And then it was time for what we were all waiting for: Arcade Fire. So there they were on stage but... wait a minute that's not them! That's a fake band wearing "bobbleheads". 
We realize that just as the real Arcade Fire get up on stage kicking the fake ones out. "I'm sorry, they keep doing that" says Win Butler before the band launch into "Normal Person" from the new album "Reflektor". 

And yes, the new album is as good or even better than "The Suburbs". I never expected to say this, but testament to that is the response the title track receives from the audience when it's played next. 

And yes, they play "The Suburbs" and "Ready To Start" but the song from the previous album that gets the crowd dancing is "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) at the end of the proper set.
It's not a gig anymore, it's a party. And yes there are some effects like the Reflektor robot, but these complement the music, they're not meant to grab your attention away from it. And that's the precise moment that I realize that we're never going to see this band in Greece...
And so the encore kicks off with a guest appearance by the Pope! Unfortunately it's a fake one with a bobblehead and I think it was Win Butler behind the mask. 
But then the party continues with "Here Comes The Night Time".
So it was over and then there was the long(ish) walk back to the train station with the other fans as in the end we gathered sitting on the platform waiting for the train. And on the opposite platform were those who were going to the airport.

And upon coming back to the hostel, I realized that it was full of Arcade Fire fans, who had come to Rome for the concert. As I was sitting in the lobby drinking my beer, there were people playing Reflektor on their mobiles and explaining about Arcade Fire to those that didn't know them...

Rebellion (Lies)
(intro played by fake band)
01.Normal Person
02. Reflektor
03. Flashbulb Eyes
04. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
05. Rebellion (Lies)
06. Joan Of Arc
07. Month of May
08. The Suburbs
09. Ready To Start
10. Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
11. No Cars Go
12. We Exist
13. Afterlife
      (w/ 'My Body Is a Cage' intro)
14. It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)
      (Régine on B-stage)
15. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
      ('Damian Taylor Remix' intro)
Pie Jesu
(played over PA, with Pope bobblehead)
16. Here Comes the Night Time
17. Keep the Car Running
18. Wake Up

Friday, 28 November 2014

Italia 2014 - 3 gigs in 3 days - Day 1 - The Rolling Stones in Rome

My yearly trip to Italy was originally planned for this concert. (I have already given a brief review here). But, as I do every time I go to a concert abroad, I looked at the listings around that date, to check if there was anything else I'd like to see nearby. And there was. In fact two of them, Arcade Fire and Motorhead in the two days following The Rolling Stones. But more about these later, in my next posts...

So, it seems that the Rolling Stones concert was the big event for Rome this year. It was taking place on a historic site (Circo Massimo) and although I've been to several Bruce Springsteen concerts in Italy (one of them in Rome) which normally attract huge crowds, I've never seen road closures to such an extent. I was able to walk from the Colosseum to the Circo Massimo in the middle of the road. It's like the historic centre of Rome was brought to a standstill.
Nevertheless, we arrived early and managed to get close to the stage. (No roll calls, this wasn't Bruce Springsteen!). And then came the long wait. It was quite a hot day, but it wouldn't be so bad if people were not walking back and forth trying to get to a better position within an area that was already too crowded. (So crowded, that even those people selling beer would not reach us. And this was the biggest problem of all!) On the other hand, it would not do much good to complain about that, remember, this was an open air concert (I still remember the lady from the couple sitting (actually lying) next to me who would complain each time (ie all the time!) somebody would step on the edge of her blanket and move her umbrella from its proper place!).

Anyway, the time DID pass and it was time for John Mayer to get onstage. He was quite good actually and he was clearly thrilled to be there, but when you're waiting to see the Stones, you tend to find most support bands a bit boring.
It was almost time for the Stones now. While waiting we were noticing a lot of activity in the VIP sections. Could that, for example, be Dan Akroyd in the stetson?

So the Stones where on stage and I realize it's probably the first time I'm seeing 70-year olds playing live. With no new album to promote this is going to be a "Greatest Hits" or "Best Of" show (actually a "Grrr!" one), so it looks very promising. (The "new" song "Doom And Gloom" is of course played). And there are actually a few surprises: "Streets Of Love" which I did not hear on The Bigger Bang tour is played! And since they haven't played many ballads on the shows that I have attended, the addition of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" during the encore is a bonus for me. (There was a rumour circulating in the Greek music press back in 1998 when they played Athens that Mick didn't want to play "Angie" anymore but this was probably untrue judging by the setlists that I've checked and the DVD's that I watched).

The second surprise of the night is "Out Of Control" from "Bridges To Babylon" which brings back memories of the Athens concert in 1998.
The night's request is "Respectable" which sees John Mayer coming back on stage to join them.

The songs that one always expects to hear on a Stones show are of course played (for example "Gimme Shelter" with Lisa Fischer), but in my opinion, the most important part of the night is Mick Taylor's presence, a link to the band's history, "Midnight Rambler" being his best, in my opinion at least, performance.
Keith's part consists of "You Got The Silver" and "Can't Be Seen". So no "Wanna Hold You" this time.
 There were rumours that the concert was going to be filmed for a DVD release (maybe, we'll see) and that Bruce Springsteen would make a guest appearance on "Tumbling Dice" like he did on a previous date. The latter, proves to be untrue... 

So the show is over and everyone's happy having seen a band play that have already celebrated 50 years of being together. The only thing that leaves a bad taste are the TV reports the next day showing all the rubbish left at Circo Massimo and the authorities wondering whether concerts on this site are worth the disruption they are causing on the city's life. Well, only the Romans can answer that. Would it be better at Stadio Olimpico? I think not, because it was this site, Circo Massimo that made this concert special...
01. Jumpin' Jack Flash
02. Let's Spend the Night Together
03. It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)
04. Tumbling Dice
05. Streets of Love (with Mick Taylor)
06. Doom and Gloom
07. Respectable (with John Mayer by request)
08. Out of Control
09. Honky Tonk Women (band introductions)
10. You Got the Silver (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
11. Can't Be Seen (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
12. Midnight Rambler (with Mick Taylor)
13. Miss You
14. Gimme Shelter (with Lisa Fischer)
15. Start Me Up
16. Sympathy for the Devil
17. Brown Sugar
18. You Can' t Always Get What You Want
19. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (with Mick Taylor)