Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Rod Stewart live in Brighton

As I have already mentioned back in July, Rod Stewart's “Absolutely Live” was my favourite live album until “Live 1975-85” by Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band came along. That was the main reason I had always wanted to see him live. I never did until this summer, though. At first, it was because, like several other artists who are getting older (Bryan Ferry comes to mind), he had discovered “the great American songbook” and I thought I would be disappointed. I didn't want to listen to that, I wanted to hear the old classics that were included on “Absolutely Live” (and several others that came before and after that album). Later I thought that he would probably not be fit enough to perform (he's older than Bruce you know). Well, I needn't worry. A couple of years ago, if I remember well, he toured Europe and played in Italy and everyone was stunned! Friends who had attended told me that at the end of his concerts he was shooting footballs from the stage to the crowd, even at indoor arenas! So, I decided that I had to go and see him. 
When the tour was announced at the beginning of the year, I looked through the dates and settled on an indoor concert in Paris. I bought the ticket, but much later, parliamentary elections were announced in Greece for that weekend. This pushed the price of plane tickets way up, since many Greek expats living in France would be coming back for the weekend in order to vote. I could not afford them, especially if I was to be able to make my other concert trip, the following week in England for the Happy Mondays. So, I tried something that has worked well in the past for me before. I looked to see whether there were any dates on that tour in the south of England on that next weekend. And I found that there was one in Hove the day before the Happy Mondays gig in Margate. Hove? “Where's that?”, I wondered until I realized that it was practically next to Brighton. In fact, it is one town, Brighton & Hove. I was delighted that I would have the chance to see Brighton again, 18 years after my last visit, while I was still at university! So I bought the ticket and started preparing for my English summer seaside holiday.
I arrived in Brighton one day before the concert so I had the chance to take a swim at the beach. Very refreshing, it gave me energy for the whole of the following year!

The following day, after doing more sightseeing, all I had to do was walk to the cricket ground. 

Because it is in a residential area the concert had to finish by 9pm, so it started really early. Of course the residents of the nearby flats took advantage of this fact and were watching the concert from their balconies, together with their guests!

First on stage were Johnnie Mac And The Faithful, handpicked by Rod himself as a support band. The music they play fitted perfectly with Rod's and they even treated us to a cover of “The Handbags And The Gladrags”.

Next up, in a fanfare with fireworks in broad daylight was Rod. Now, I think I had missed whatever had been billed as a “Greatest Hits” tour in the past, so I imagined that he was mainly going to promote his latest album “Blood Red Roses” and with luck I would get to hear some of the old favourites. Imagine my surprise then, when for just his second song of the night he launched into “Young Turks”, the song that had made me a Rod Stewart fan when I was 14!

He did exactly what I wanted him to do; he played almost all of “Absolutely Live”! And then some! “Tonight I'm Yours”, “Sailing”, “I Don't Want To Talk About It”, “Maggie May”, “Rhythm Of My Heart”, “You're In My Heart” and more; all the favourites were thrown in the mix! And “Grace”, from the new album was also brilliant and has now become a new favourite of mine. He did seem to have a bit of trouble hitting the high notes on “Baby Jane” but his backing singers more than compensated for it.

In fact he gave his backing band their own time to shine when they played Mark Knopfler's “Going Home (Theme From Local Hero)” and Fleetwood Mac's “Go Your Own Way” by themselves.

And he did seem to enjoy the whole thing, talking to the ladies in the audience (“Alright Mrs Jones?”) and even acknowledging the guys in the nearby houses who were enjoying the show for free.

No football kicks this time, but fittingly enough, he closed the show with “Stay With Me”. Just like “Absolutely Live”! The customary firework display at the end of the show was performed in broad daylight!

As, once again on foot, I was making my way back to Brighton, I was thinking that this had been something that I would like to experience again. Yes, I would go to see Rod Stewart live again, even if he was to deliver the exact same show!

01. Having A Party
02. Young Turks
03. Some Guys Have All The Luck
04. Tonight's The Night (Gonna Be Alright)
05. Forever Young
06. Twistin' The Night Away
07. Rhythm Of My Heart
08. The Killing Of Georgie (Part I and II)
09. It Takes Two
10. Tonight I'm Yours (Don't Hurt Me)
11. I'd Rather Go Blind
12. Rollin' And Tumblin'
13. Going Home (Theme From Local Hero) (band only)
14. Grace
15. I Don't Want To Talk About It
16. Dirty Old Town
17. Have I Told You Lately
18. Go Your Own Way (band only)
19. Baby Jane
20. Sailing
21. Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?
22. Maggie May
23. Stay With Me

Monday, 21 October 2019

Summer Nostos Festival 2019 - Neneh Cherry

Summer Nostos Festival is an annual week-long festival organized by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation at its wonderful Cultural Centre which also houses the Greek National Opera and the Greek National Library. There's so much more going on apart from concerts such as dance performances, art exhibitions, theatre, sports events and activities for families and children.

Last year I attended because I wanted to see Stereo Nova, Greece's most famous “techno” band from the 90's. This year I went in order to see the legendary and fabulous Neneh Cherry.
Not only is the festival free, but the center provides its own mini buses taking you to and from the nearest metro stations. We had arrived much earlier, so we had a chance to have a glimpse at Balthazar, the band playing before Neneh Cherry at another area of the festival grounds.

After that we walked straight on to the stage where Neneh Cherry would be appearing. She was right on time and one of the first songs she performed was “Manchild”. She continued both with songs from her latest albums and old favourites. My only complaint lies with “7 Seconds” and it is that the male voice was pre-recorded. She couldn't bring Youssou'N'Dour along with her of course, but I'm sure she could have added a decent backing singer to her band who would be up to the task. Her own performance was nevertheless wonderful. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Release Festival 2019 - New Order & Johnny Marr

My second, and final Release Festival date for 2019 was the most anticipated. 8 days after my first with Iggy Pop and James, I went back to Water Square to see New Order and Johnny Marr. I had always wanted to see New Order live. After having seen Peter Hook And The Light not once, but twice, performing the songs of Joy Division and New Order, I now wanted to see the real thing. Plus they are one of the “Girlfriend Bands”, one of her favourites along with Belle And Sebastian, Manic Street Preachers and Blossoms. As for Johnny Marr... well, since I had already seen his other half in The Smiths, Morrissey, I now wanted to see him as well. And it wasn't just Smiths songs that I was expecting to hear. “Easy Money” a single from his previous album was one of my favourites. But before these two I was going to see Morcheeba. It was more than 20 years ago that I first noticed them when “Let Me See” was used on a Bailey's commercial and on the Gwynneth Paltrow movie “Sliding Doors”. 

So, just after arriving at Water Square where the “Yesterday” double decker bus was still in place, their set began. They did play “Let Me See”, understandably towards the end of their set, but not before they had treated us to a wonderful cover version of David Bowie's “Let's Dance”. It was the second David Bowie tribute for me at this year's Release Festival since 8 days before that Iggy Pop had covered “The Jean Genie”.

After Morcheeba, it was time for the customary exploratory walk around the festival grounds, where I bought a t-shirt and by buying a coffee and playing an interactive game I won a bluetooth speaker. (Coffee? It wasn't time for coffee, it was time for a beer!). And moreover, after all these activities we managed to reach the front of the stage where we waited for Johnny Marr. Johnny Marr's set had a little bit of everything. First of all he played songs from his solo career: Quite a few from his latest album, but also my favourite “Easy Money” and even his cover of Depeche Mode's “I Feel You”. There were - of course - songs from the Smiths (his second song of the night was “Bigmouth Strikes Again” but the only song both he and Morrissey in his 2014 Athens gig played was “How Soon Is Now”). 

And finally there were Electronic songs. We were first treated to “Getting Away With It”, but a little bit later we witnessed an actual Electronic reunion when Bernard Sumner of New Order who were going to appear next came up on stage to duet on “Get The Message”. Only Neil Tennant was missing (who had actually appeared at Water Square six years before with the Pet Shop Boys). 

All in all, Johnny Marr live was a wonderful experience and I was so justified for wanting to see him live after having seen Morrissey!
Finally, it was time for New Order. This time it was the real thing and we knew what we would be getting: Hit after hit after hit. Not only New Order hits, but Joy Division as well! I must confess that I am basically a fan of their “Substance” period. That, for me, includes everything up to “Touched By The Hand Of God” and bits of the “Technique” album. “World In Motion” also belongs to that period and I love it but it's a completely different thing. I must confess that I was tempted to request it by shouting, but I thankfully restrained myself in the end. As you have probably deduced by now I am an 80's New Order fan. But then again one of their 90's tracks is, in my opinion, an absolute masterpiece: “Regret”. It's just that I'm not very much into their latest period, the one starting with “Get Ready” (“We're like crystal, we break easy”, I mean seriously?). Well, if you look at the setlist, you'll see that it was mostly suited to my tastes. “Regret' was played, early on, “Subculture” was played, a personal favourite which I first heard on a slightly different version on a 7'' EP given free with Record Mirror magazine in the 80's, and finally, Joy Division songs were played. Bernard was overjoyed that the audience responded so well to the Joy Division songs and as a result the band played two more of them including the obligatory “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience. New Order and Johnny Marr on the same night plus a bonus Electronic reunion. Unforgettable!


01. Never Undo
02. Friction
03. Never An Easy Way
04. Otherwise
05. The Sea
06. Trigger Hippie
07. Blaze Away
08. Let's Dance
09. Blindfold
10. Let Me See
11. Summertime
12. Rome Wasn't Built In A Day

01. The Tracers
02. Bigmouth Strikes Again
03. Armatopia
04. Day In Day Out
05. New Dominions
06. Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before
07. Hi Hello
08. Walk Into The Sea
09. Getting Away With It
10. Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
11. Spiral Cities
12. How Soon Is Now?
13. Get the Message (with Bernard Sumner)
14. Easy Money
15. I Feel You
16. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

01. Singularity
02. Regret
03. Restless
04. She's Lost Control
05. Shadowplay
06. Transmission
07. Your Silent Face
08. Bizarre Love Triangle
09. Subculture
10. Plastic
11. The Perfect Kiss
12. True Faith
13. Blue Monday
14. Temptation
15. Atmosphere
16. Love Will Tear Us Apart