Saturday, 20 August 2016

London 2012 Olympic Games

While this year's Olympic Games are currently taking place in Rio De Janeiro, let's take a look at the last Olympics I attended, in London 4 years ago. Because the Olympics were hosted in the city where I had been living for about 10 years, I simply had to go. And because of my extensive stay in the UK, and the fact that even though I am a Bruce Springsteen fan, my general musical tastes are more British rather than American oriented, I was able to appreciate them more, especially the ceremonies for which there was a certain level of criticism in the Greek media who were wondering "how would the British conpete with [ancient] Greek civilization" (Their words, not mine). I particurarly enjoyed the closing ceremony which was a true celebration of British music.
So it was that on an August night, less than a month after seeing Bruce Springsteen at the Hard Rock Calling festival I was back in London, and back at Earl's Court in the same hostel.
All the rumours we had been hearing were proven false. Heathrow Airport was empty, I cruised through passport control, London Underground was also empty, and I did not have to suffer any security checks. Those very nice people of the organising commitee had also thrown in a travelcard so I could travel around the city for free on the day of the event I was attending
Access to the Olympic Park was extremely easy. The only security check needed was an airport-style one to enter the park. And that was all!
My destination was the Aquatics Centre for the Synchronised Swimming event. The reason I chose this sport, was because it was one of the few I wanted to, but could not attend at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games (and yes, I do need to write a post about those games, but I first need to gather all the photos, most of which are not digital so they need to be scanned, plus the footage from my friend's video camera). Anyway, I was extremely lucky to be allocated a ticket at the event I had chosen while some Londoners could not get any tickets at all!
And here is my very own seat as stated on my ticket.
As was the case with Athens in 2004, London also had its own Zeppelin flying above the city.
Of course there was the obligatory shop to buy souvenirs from. And it was huge. With a huge queue to get in!
Traditional British food (ie fish and chips) was on offer... was traditional British alcohol (ie beer)!
And since the Underground was running later in the night than usual a midnight stroll through Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus was a must.
Back then there was still an HMV record shop where I checked in... order to buy the official albums of the games...

 ...and found out there was going be an extra one later, which I would have to order from Amazon!

The next day, in Earl's Court, near the hostel, there was another games venue... there was in Greenwich...
...where there was also a new cable car.
Just before my return trip a found another souvenir shop at Heathrow.

So what do I like the Olympic Games so much and why do I try to be there myself? It's not just about watching some sports (which are usually sports not easy to watch through the rest of the year which is mostly filled with football and basketball here in Greece). It is also about all the people from all corners of the world that gather at the host city and the general excitement that is in the air. Those who took time to be out and about in Athens during the 2004 games will know what I mean!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Throwback Thursday - Shakira Live in Athens 10 years ago

It was 10 years ago when I went to another concert in Athens with my then new Sony Cybershot digital camera. In fact it was one of those very rare occasions where I also took my video camera along. As you will be able to see I was not close enough for that particular camera to take close up pictures of the artists, but the video camera had (as it was the case back then) a much bigger zoom so I was able to get lots of good footage. I haven't gotten round to processing it yet so this will have to wait for another post.
Anyway, why Shakira? As I used to say back in the day "I had discovered Shakira". Let me explain: Back in late 2001 I was working in a small record shop in Oxford Street. We used to stock some imports from the States. One of these was "Laundry Service" before it was released in the UK. "Listen to this" my colleague told me "she is really good". So I got the album, listened to all of it, decided it was great and yet nobody in the UK knew who Shakira was... yet! (Except those customers who were asking for a recommendation and I told them about it, or those who heard it being played in the shop's sound system, asked me what it was... and then bought it!). About two months after I had bought the album, BBC Radio 1 started playing "Whenever Wherever" which was released as the first single (the album still wasn't out in the UK then) and FHM did a cover story "Shakira's hot!". The single was released, became a hit, then the album was finally released a few weeks later and the rest is, as they say, history. So, if there was one person in Greece who had to see Shakira live, that was me!
The Olympic Stadium arrangement was a bit strange, but logical, since Shakira wasn't expected to fetch the crowds rock acts do in Greece. The stage was placed in the middle of the pitch and only one half of the arena and stands were used.

The two opening acts were local artists. The first one, Rallia Christidou was a female singer who had took part in one of the first Greek TV talent shows. If I remember correctly she withdrew from the show claiming she wasn't expecting to win it, but took part in order to gain some exposure (a plan which apparently worked). Frankly I did not remember seeing her set, and only realized she took part after watching the videos from the day stored on my hard disk.

The second act was C:Real, a Greek pop band that had been around since 1996 (they recently celebrated their 20th anniversary)

Finally around 10 o' clock Shakira came on stage with a set that featured not only songs from her "Oral Fixation" and "Laundry Service" albums but also from the earlier ones when she was only singing in Spanish (My favourite songs from that era were "Ojos Asi" and "Ciega Sordomuda" which she did play.)

I hope that I will finally get down to transfer the footage from my Mini-DV tape to my computer so that you can get a better idea of what it was like on the night. So, watch this space and there will (probably) be an update post on this one!

01. Estoy Aqui
02. Don't Bother
03. Te Dejo Madrid
04. Illegal
05. Antologia
06. Inevitable
07. Si Te Vas
08. La Tortura
09. No
10. Whenever, Wherever
11. La Pared
12. Underneath Your Clothes
13. Dia De Enero
14. Pies descalzos, sueños blancos
15. Ciega, Sordomuda
16. Ojos Asi
17. Hips Don't Lie