Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Cranberries, live in Athens in 2010

Most people who read my blog are probably familiar with the reviews of gigs I went to 10 years ago. In fact my last post was one that falls into that category. However, this is a review of a gig I went to 8 years ago. The reason I chose to revisit it now was Dolores's (the lead singer of Cranberries) untimely departure earlier this year.
So, 8 years ago (on July 14 2010), the Cranberries were in Athens and I decided to go and see them.

I arrived at the theatre at the last minute and managed to buy one of the 3 remaining tickets. The theatre was filled to capacity, in fact I suspect that it was filled beyond its capacity, but there were quite a few places reserved for "VIP" guests. Most of these seats were probably allocated free to executives of a mobile telephony company which was one of the sponsors of this event. As these people probably didn't know who the Cranberries were, the seats were regrettably left empty.

As far as the gig was concerned, it was pretty much a "Greatest Hits" affair plus a few tracks from Dolores's solo album. And this is why it was, in my opinion, successful. It was one of a handful of times when I came back from a gig where the band had played all the songs I wanted to hear. (In my case these were "Linger", "Zombie", "Dreams" and "Ode To My Family". Everything else was a bonus for me.)

Of course I heard some complaints from other people in the audience like "they didn't play No Need To Argue" which I heard somebody say as we were leaving the theatre. Of course, if we start talking about album tracks I could also mention that I would like Bruce Springsteen to play "Man's Job" during one of his concerts that I regularly attend, but I don't think that this is very likely to happen. Everybody was expecting "Zombie" (they played this as the last song before the encore), while I was expecting "Dreams" (they played this as the last song of the considerably lengthy encore.)

01. Analyse
02. Animal Instinct
03. How
04. Dreaming My Dreams
05. Linger
06. Wanted
07. Just My Imagination
08. When You're Gone
09. Switch Off the Moment (Dolores O’Riordan song)
10. Desperate Andy
11. Time Is Ticking Out
12. I Can't Be With You
13. Ode to My Family
14. Free to Decide
15. Salvation
16. Ridiculous Thoughts
17. Zombie
18. Shattered
19. Still Can't...
20. Promises
21. Dreams

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Bruce Springsteen live in Paris in 2008 - You never forget your first time

Continuing the series of "concerts I attended 10 years ago" here is an important one: An artist who I had not seen live until that time but who I would go and see 12 more times in the next 8 years. Bruce Springsteen. And not just Bruce Springsteen. Bruce Springsteen with the E Street Band. The year before I had gone to France to see The Rolling Stones, so I thought "why not Bruce this year in the same country"? I had wanted to see him live ever since I bought his "Live 1975-85" album and learned about his legendary 3 hours+ concerts. But, not being close to the fan circuit I did not expect he would still be doing these things in 2008. I was disappointed when he disbanded the E Street Band and his lack of output in the 90's thinking "now I'll never get to see him live", but hope arose again when in late 2000 when I was a postgraduate student in London and I watched a 90-minute special of his concerts in Madison Square Garden earlier that year. And I remembered a few years later picking up a copy of the "Tour Edition" of "The Rising" at Santorini airport and thinking "yeah, tour!". It took a few years for faith to be rewarded, but it was indeed rewarded.
Earlier that year, in 2008,  I had become aware of the Greek Bruce Springsteen community who were calling themselves "No Surrender". While I was planning my summer trip to Paris to see Bruce I read in a Greek newspaper a review of his winter concert in the same city where the fans had made a sign saying "Play NO SURRENDER for the Greeks" and Bruce did indeed oblige. And I had also picked up one of their flyers advertising one of their parties at a record shop.

So I bought my ticket but for some strange reason I had to pick it up from the stadium on the day of the concert. I had decided to buy the most expensive ticket as I had done with The Rolling Stones the year before while in the meantime noticing some strange facts. The most expensive ticket for the (cancelled) Rolling Stones concert in Athens in 2006 was €300. The most expensive ticket for the Rolling Stones concert in Lyon in 2007 was half that price at €150. And the most expensive ticket for the Bruce Springsteen concert in 2008 was a bit more than half the latter price at €85! Anyway, I arrived at Parc Des Princes early to receive my ticket only to end up waiting for a couple of hours with other fans next to a gendarme that looked a lot like Richard Gere while most of the time only pitch tickets were handed out (mine was in the stands). The two French words I mostly heard during those two hours were "Pelouse" (pitch) and "Attendez" (wait). I finally got my ticket, went back to the hotel and back to the stadium in time for my first Bruce Springsteen concert.

And the first Bruce Springsteen song I heard live was "Adam Raised A Cain". And I realized that he would play the requests he received as signs for the audience (a funny moment was when he picked up one for "Fire", the band mistakenly started playing "I'm On Fire" only to stop and then start the correct song a few seconds later. I also realized that he would play obscure tracks. One of my favourite Bruce songs is "Janey Don't You Lose Heart" which I had discovered back in 1985 when I bought the "I'm Going Down" 7 inch single. "Janey" was on the b-side. I could not believe my luck when he played it that night.

And since he was in France he also played "Rendez-Vous" and he introduced "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" as a "chanson pout les jeunes filles Francaises". On, and he did play "No Surrender".
And finally I realized that he did still play those marathon shows. The Paris concert was only (only?) 2 hours and 35 minutes, still a lot longer than other bands, but Bruce can be forgiven because he had played a longer one at San Siro in Milano a few days earlier. And anyway, at the end of these 2 hours and 35 minutes the concert had become a huge party with a (very) extended version of "American Land" at the end.

The only problem was the sound. At least the sound where I was sitting. Acoustic songs were fine, but on louder songs the sound of the bass and the drums seemed to reverberate at the concrete of the stadium's tiers. When I realized this I prayed for Bruce to play more acoustic songs (and he did indeed play quite a few). Of course by the end I didn't care. It just goes to show that when you buy the most expensive ticket you don't necessarily get the best conditions. From my next Bruce shows, I would move to the arena and later the "pit" once I learned the ropes and how this procedure was carried out.
Upon my return to Greece I contacted the No Surrender community and the rest is, as they say, history, an important part of which is that my next Bruce Springsteen concert was 366 days later, on the next day of my first year anniversary. This one, my first, was on the 27th of June 2008 at Parc Des Princes in Paris, while my second one was on the 28th of June 2009 at Hyde Park in London (the one that was released on DVD). And as an extra twist, my eleventh one was once again in Paris at the other big stadium of the city (Stade De France at Saint Denis) on the 29th of June 2013 two days after my fifth anniversary! (11 concerts in 5 years! Let that sink in for a minute). It seems like the end of June is the ideal time to see Bruce Springsteen live...
01. Adam Raised a Cain
02. Radio Nowhere
03. No Surrender
04. The Promised Land
05. Spirit in the Night
06. Rendezvous (Sign request)
07. Candy's Room
08. Atlantic City
09. Janey Don't You Lose Heart (Sign request)
10. Darlington County
11. Because the Night
12. She's the One
13. Livin' in the Future
14. Mary's Place
15. Fire (Sign request - False start : Max started "I'm on Fire")
16. For You
17. The River
18. The Rising
19. Last to Die
20. Long Walk Home
21. Badlands
22. Out in the Street
23. Girls in Their Summer Clothes
24. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
25. Born to Run
26. Bobby Jean
27. Dancing in the Dark
28. American Land

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

10 years ago, I went to Manchester to see Yazoo live

Earlier this year (2018) I saw Erasure live. 30 years ago (1988) I also saw Erasure live. But 10 years ago (2008) I saw another Vince Clarke group live. It was, of course, Yazoo. And I saw them at another Apollo venue, Manchester Apollo whereas I saw Erasure at the Hammersmith Apollo, both times (although back in 1988 it was called Hammersmith Odeon).
It all started through an internet fan forum when this question was posed by another user: "What is your synth-pop top 5?" My answer was this:
However, I added an extra comment to my answer: "The only ones I haven't seen live are Yazoo (Pretty much impossible now, I guess... Although reunions are always possible...)". A few days later their reunion was indeed announced
in the form of their Reconnected tour and tickets went on sale. I bought one for Manchester on the 7th of June.
The night before, I flew to London and early the next morning I took the train to Manchester. I settled in at my hotel, found where Manchester Apollo was and once there I met my Swedish friend from the same internet forum for the first time in person and had a couple of pints at the local.

Then I went back to my hotel and had a chance to walk around Manchester for a bit. I was to return there again in 2011 for Roger Waters and in 2016 for the city's very own Stone Roses.
Unfortunately, back then I believed what was stated on concert tickets, ie that cameras were not allowed, so the only photos that I took inside the venue and during the gig are those that I took with my mobile, a SonyEricsson W880.

I even filmed one video with it, at a very low resolution, but I also manaaged to find one more on YouTube from another user.

What is true, is that compact cameras are allowed, it's professional (SLR) cameras and video cameras that are not usually allowed.
The gig started with "Nobody's Diary" a song that was never performed live before the 2008 tour (as indeed were all the songs from their second album "You And Me Both"). And because Yazoo had only released two albums, we heard a lot of our favourite tunes from back then.

After the end of the gig, I remember my Swedish friend stating that "this woman was born to sing!"
After the gig, we sat and waited outside the Apollo for a while; there was a rumour going on that either Alison or Vince may show up.

Finally, I took the bus back to my hotel.
The next day,at Manchester Piccadilly station from where I would take the train back to London, I spotted a billboard advertising a Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band concert at Old Trafford, that had already taken place. I was about to attend my very first Bruce Springstten gig at the end of that same month in Paris, but that is of course a subject for another blog post...

01. Nobody's Diary
02. Bad Connection
03. Mr. Blue
04. Good Times
05. Tuesday
06. Ode to Boy
07. Goodbye 70's
08. Too Pieces
09. In My Room
10. Walk Away From Love
      I Before E Except After C
11. Anyone
12. State Farm
13. Sweet Thing
14. Winter Kills
15. Midnight
16. Unmarked
17. Bring Your Love Down (Didn't I)
18. Situation
19. Don't Go
20. Only You

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Chameleons Vox live in Athens

The first 3 gigs of 2018 were all electro gigs, as I mentioned on my previous post, the last of them being Kid Moxie at Death Disco. The 4th one, even though it was not an electro one, was also at Death Disco. And it was pulled straight out of the 80's Manchester scene. Chameleons Vox aren't the original Chameleons of course. It's just their lead singer, Mark Burgess, with "whoever wants to play with him". But how did I get into the Chameleons? Back in the day (somewhere around 1984) a schoolfriend lent me their "Script Of The Bridge" album (along with "The Crackdown" by Cabaret Voltaire and the 12 inch of "Paris Latino" by Bandolero - yeah, I know, whatever) and forgot to ask me to give it back. I remember listening to the record and enjoying it because "there was so much music in there". What I was referring to was that its duration was around 55 minutes. So, if you liked that kind of music there was lots of it on the album for you to enjoy. The problem was of course, that vinyl records didn't really sound that good if they were over 45 minutes. I remembered that when the weekend before the gig I dug the record out, to listen to it again. I realized then that i probably needed to buy the remastered CD in order to enjoy their music in full.

On the night, which was sold out, they played songs from "Script Of The Bridge" but also from some of their later albums.

I enjoyed it thoroughly, probably because I was at the front of the stage. But there was a catch to that. I was also in front of one of the speakers.

I did not realize it then, but my hearing did suffer as I got out of the venue. On the train home I couldn't hear all the sounds clearly, and I was also hearing some sounds (sort of "beep, beep, beep") that weren't actually there. It took 48 hours for my hearing to come back to normal. It was probably worth it, but I'm not going to do this again. So, don't try this at home kids, you have been warned...

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Kid Moxie - finally - live!

As it turned out, my first 3 gigs of 2018 were all electro gigs. The first one was Erasure, the second one Kraftwerk, and the third one turned out to be Kid Moxie.
It's funny how one gets to discover new acts in the internet age. I discovered Kid Moxie via Marsheaux. How did that happen? Well, many years ago she released her "Selector" album on UNDO Records, the same record company that Marsheaux release their music. When I saw that CD on the UNDO Records online store I decided to investigate. The fact that the CD contained a "Marsheaux Remix" of one of the songs was a plus. So, I bought it immediately without listening to a single note of it first (We used to do that often before the internet, you know). I wasn't disappointed. Her next album, 1888, was even better and, since I'm a "physical format" kind of guy I was happy when she finally released her latest, "Perfect Shadow" on CD. But, the question was, would I ever see her live? I had seen Marsheaux a few times, so why not Kid Moxie? From what I could tell, she hadn't played any gigs. But finally, earlier this year, an announcement came on her Facebook page: "Stay tuned for live gigs in Greece later this year". The first one, was, predictably on a Monday, when I could not go because I was working. But this, the one at Death Disco was taking place on a Thursday and I could go after work.
So, there I was on the 29th of March, trying to catch as much of the support act as possible who were starting earlier. And that's funny, because, Someone Who Isn't Me (the support band) was another discovery for me. I may have discovered Kid Moxie through Marsheaux, but I can now say that I discovered Someone Who Isn't Me through Kid Moxie.

Their latest single, "Gomenaki", is probably the best thing I have heard this year so far.
And one of their members was a familiar face. If I am not mistaken she used to be in The Berlin Brides.
Kid Moxie's set was next. She and her band, started with Lacuna, my favourite song from "1888" accompanied by projections on a big screen behind the stage.
There were a couple of sound problems (sometimes her voice was louder than the instruments, and at other times the instruments were louder than her voice, at least from where I was standing), but these were soon smoothed out.

And she had a big surprise for us towards the end: a cover version of "Big In Japan".

All in all, it was a wonderful night and she will appear live again, at the Release Festival in a few days. I don't know if I can make it yet, but it's certainly worth it.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Kraftwerk live and in 3D

I have been listening to a lot of synth-pop music, especially during the 80's when it was most popular. In fact, my last gig was a synth-pop gig. But there would have been no synth-pop (and also other forms of electronic music), no Erasure, no OMD, no Marsheaux, no Depeche Mode (even if they are not so electronic now) without Kraftwerk. I had wanted to see Kraftwerk live for many years and it was extremely hard to get tickets for their UK shows. Then I noticed that this year they were playing their 3-D show in places that were awfully close to Greece (Sofia and Skopje for example), so why didn't any promoter make an effort to bring them here? Finally someone did. And at long last, on the 3rd of March, exactly one week after my seeing Erasure in London, Kraftwerk played in Athens.
When the gig was announced, before I bought my ticket, I had to make some enquiries. Where should I be in the venue? In the arena or in the seats in order to enjoy the full 3D experience? Both people I asked gave me the same verdict: It doesn't matter where you are, as long as you are facing the middle of the stage in order to better experience the 3-D  effects. I decided to buy a seated ticket, so my view would not be obstructed by a tall person in front of me. And since the seated tickets were not numbered, I had to get there early in order to find a seat that would be facing the middle of the stage. And that's just what I did. I got a seat at the topmost row directly facing the stage.

When the show finally started it was confirmed that this was a perfect seat to experience the 3D effects from, although, as you will be able to see from the videos, the show can be enjoyed even in 2D. 

I could go on for hours telling you how magnificent the 3D graphics were, but what was even more exciting was how many Kraftwerk tunes I was familiar with from all those years.

And the one I had completely forgotten about was "Neon Lights" which I came to know through its OMD cover of 1991!
Then again, the song I was most waiting for was "The Model" which had no 3D effects at all.

All in all, it was a wonderful night and a unique experience . Towards the end, they treated us to "The Robots" as a separate performance (and with different outfits). 

In the end they left the stage one by one while the music was still playing...
01. Numbers
02. Computer World
03. It's More Fun to Compute
04. Home Computer
05. Computer Love
06. The Man-Machine
07. Spacelab
08. The Model
09. Neon Lights
10. Autobahn
11. Airwaves
12. Geiger Counter / Radioactivity
13. Electric Café
14. Tour De France / Prologue / Etape 1 / Chrono / Etape 2
15. Trans Europe Express / Metal on Metal / Abzug
16. The Robots
Encore 2:
17. Aéro Dynamik
18. Planet of Visions
19. Boing Boom Tschak
20. Techno Pop
21. Music Non Stop