Sunday, 31 March 2019

Paul Weller @ The O2 Arena in March 2009


Before I was a Bruce Springsteen fan I was also a Queen fan. And before I was a Queen fan I was also a Jam fan and later I became a Style Council fan. It all started with a record given with Pop + Rock magazine 40 years ago, in 1979. Well, not exactly given, but you could buy it from certain shops at half price using a voucher from the magazine. I decided to find out more about the bands featured on that record. Track 3 on side 1 was "David Watts" by The Jam. So I went out and bought the "Going Underground" 7 inch. That's it! I was hooked!
My first attempt to see Paul Weller live was in 2001 when I was in London during his Days Of Speed tour. Unfortunately, the gig was already sold out. My second attempt was for this gig at the O2 Arena 10 years ago, but this was also showing as sold out on Ticketmaster and other sites. So when I was at the O2 Arena in November of the previous year to see Queen + Paul Rodgers I decided to try my luck at the venue box office. And yes, they had a ticket. And the seat was a very good one, close to the stage. So I bought it and I immediately started planning my next London trip in my mind. However, just a few days before the London concert it was announced that Paul Weller would be playing live in Greece! Shock horror! Would my trip to London turn out to be useless? As we will see later, it wouldn't!
When the time came and went to London, what do you know? I almost missed that gig! Apparently the Underground was not operating all the way to North Greenwich station and I was left stranded with several other people at a bus stop in West Ham waiting for a bus! 

It finally came and I made it on time, but only just. I missed Corral, the support act, but I would make up for that 7 years later when they played support for The Stone Roses in Manchester. I only had time to get a beer from the bar and find my seat before the show started.


What we noticed while waiting for Paul to appear was a 10-piece female string section. They weren't accompanying him on every gig of that tour, so that was a bonus. But they would appear on the live CD/DVD from that tour he later released titled "Just A Dream - 22 Dreams Live". So that DVD will always remind me of the gig at the O2 Arena. 


Anyway, when Paul came on stage, he launched straight into "Peacock Suit". He then proceeded with a setlist that had a bit of everything: Jam songs ("Eton Rifles", "The Butterfly Collector", "Town Called Malice"), Style Council songs ("Shout To The Top"), songs from his solo career, and, though I did not realize it at the time, new songs from his next album, the yet-to-be-released at that time "Wake Up The Nation". There was even an acoustic session with him and two other guitarists sitting on stools. All in all, he seemed like a man enjoying himself and was chatting with the audience. (There was even a football comment, something about Chelsea I think, but I didn't quite catch all of it.)



Looking back on it, it was indeed a unique experience. And it wasn't a waste of time or money. When Paul came to Greece later in the year, he didn't have the string section and he didn't play any of the new songs.



With the sounds of "Town Called Malice" the last song, still echoing in my head, I left the O2 Arena. 


But seeing as there was no tube and I would have to take the night bus, I decided to stay there for a little while. Especially as, from the nearby O2 Bar And Grill I heard some more Weller sounds coming my way. A band called RoShambo was playing there and they included some Paul Weller covers. They saw me filming "Out Of The Sinking" and gave me a free CD! They were suprpised to see the video later on YouTube and commented on it.


Finally, it was time to leave, and I took the night bus to Leicester Square experiencing London by night once again after all these years. 
From Leicester Square, I grabbed a taxi to my hotel in Victoria at the cost of 13 GBP ("a snip!" as Smash Hits would have said back in the 80's)


SETLIST:
01. Peacock Suit
02. Out Of The Sinking
03. 22 Dreams
04. The Changingman
05. Wake Up The Nation
06. All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You)
07. From The Floorboards Up
08. Sea Spray
09. Shout To The Top
10. The Eton Rifles
11. Porcelain Gods
12. Invisible
13. One Bright Star
14. Empty Ring
15. You Do Something To Me
16. 7 And 3
17. Have You Made Up Your Mind
18. Push It Along
19. 111
20. All On A Misty Morning
21. Magic Bus
22. The Butterfly Collector
23. Brand New Start
24. Wild Wood
25. Echoes Round The Sun
26. Broken Stones
27. Whirlpool's End
28. Town Called Malice


Sunday, 17 March 2019

Monika, live in Athens, 10 years ago


2009 was a very busy year for me in terms of concerts. I don't know if it was the year in which I have attended the most, but it was certainly the one with the most trips abroad (to attend concerts of course). All these were listed on my second ever blog post (which is in Greek, but will soon receive a re-write in English since a lot of the photos and links have disappeared). It all started in January of that year with Monika.
Monika was one of the first Greek artists to become well-known through the internet. Mostly through MySpace which was the most popular social medium at the time. At a time when most Greek artists who wanted to become well-known had to sing in Greek and most specifically the genre that is known as "laikopop", it was surprising that she managed to break through singing in English and playing alternative rock. When she announced that concert at Gagarin, in January, it sold out quickly and there was almost no place to stand while we were in there. And boy, did we have to stand for hours, as she came on stage quite late, while classical music was being played by the speakers. But it was all worth it.


At that time, she had only released one album, 2008's "Avatar". She played most of it that night, plus a couple of new songs, a few covers (the best of which was "Be My Baby" and the most unexpected was The Wings "Let Me Roll It" plus she sung another one in Greek for good measure) and she even repeated a couple of songs at the end.



Even back then she had already received a lot of bad press from traditional media. These were concerned with some unfortunate comments she had made in her interviews, the fact that she didn't go through what were back then the usual channels to achieve fame, but mostly they had to do with the fact that she was lucky enough to be able to fund her musical career while other struggling artists may not have had it so easy because of lack of money. The important thing though, is this: She obviously had (and still has I believe) talent, so why should it have gone to waste? Even if it was much easier for her... And besides, an artist who managed to make the Greek mainstream audience to listen to international music must have done something right.
Anyway, all of us had a great time that night, she was a bit nervous at first (she stumbled on one of the cables and almost fell), she thanked us for coming and making this, her first big live concert sold out, while many people were left out while unsuccessfully trying to find a ticket until the very last moment. When asked by a member of the audience why she hadn't arranged a second gig on the following day she answered that "It's not that simple"
Monika went on to release two more albums, the second one in 2010 just as successful as the first, the third in 2014 not so much. By then albums were not selling that much and that was the last album she has released so far. But recently she made a comeback with a digital single, this time singing in Greek, without changing her musical style though...

Monday, 4 March 2019

Rockwave Festival 2018 - Day 3 - Iron Maiden



Day 3 of Rockwave Festival 2018 came on the next day after Day 2 (and 14 days after Day 1 by the way). The problem was that it was also two days after my return from Rome where I had seen Little Steven And The Disciples Of Soul and Roger Waters. Would I be able to get through another festival, once again at Terra Vibe? It seemed that I could. 

This time I wasn't planning on seeing any of the other bands so I left for Terra Vibe at a reasonable hour (not too late though since a lot more people were expected to see Iron Maiden than Judas Priest. (Indeed by the end of the night it was filled to capacity.) I arrived there on time and I went to my usual spot (the same one as the day before, which I know that it has good visibility since it has been used as a VIP area on other concerts) and lied down to relax with a beer.

When I was in my teen years, Iron Maiden, were, for me the third part of the Heavy Metal Trinity (the other two were AC/DC and Motorhead). I guess it's a matter of personal taste. I remember that back in 1983 I had bought "Flick Of The Switch", "Another Perfect Day" and "Piece Of Mind" on the same day. I had seen AC/DC twice, in 1988 in Lausanne and in 2009 in Athens. Iron Maiden I had also seen in Athens, again in 1988 in what is now considered a legendary concert. It was only Motorhead that I hadn't managed to see until 2014 in Milano, a bit more than a year before Lemmy left us. But I really wanted to see Maiden again, almost 30 years after my first time. In fact it was going to be 29 years, 10 months and 1 week, my biggest gap between seeing two concerts from the same band).
Back to the present and Terra Vibe, while comfortably relaxing at my spot, I also managed to see two other bands. Tremonti were first.


Then it was time for Volbeat, who I must admit that I liked quite a lot in fact. By that time I had already met again some of my friends that were with me on the previous day and quite a few more.


Then, a couple of hours (and almost 30 years later), Iron Maiden were on stage! Much more material to draw from plus a great stage show, with Eddie making several appearances.







I have to state that although Iron Maiden have a long history, their ideal singer, in my opinion is (and always was) Bruce Dickinson. Respect to Paul Di' Anno, they produced quite a few great tracks in his time but the best ones were from the Dickinson era. Not much to remember from Blaze Bailey. As far as a connection with the previous concert goes, it was great to hear "The Evil That Men Do" once again. Back then it was one of the new songs, now it was one of the golden oldies from one of their greatest albums "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son". And from the songs that were not yet written in 1988, the best one has to be "Fear Of The Dark" a track that always sounds better live. In fact, I remember buying the live version on CD single back in the 90's.

The night came to an end with Bruce Dickinson singing, acapella, a verse from "Alexander The Great", a song the crowd wanted to hear, but the band had not planned it in their setlist. And so, with Monty Python's "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life" playing over the speakers the last of my summer concerts came to an end. 

Thankfully, it looks like that was the end of Terra Vibe. The company that organizes Rockwave Festival has decided "to rest" and the new company that was formed by several of its former members has announced its first concert in the center of Athens. If this is indeed true, this is great news for Athens concert goers, since there has never been a more inconvenient place for concerts than Terra Vibe which is also a huge safety hazard. We will hopefully now spend our summers enjoying concerts instead of wasting time going to and coming back from Terra Vibe.
I now had 10 more days in July and the whole of August to rest. My next gig would be in September!

SETLISTS
Tremonti

01. Another Heart
02. You Waste Your Time
03. My Last Mistake
05. Catching Fire
06. Flying Monkeys
07. Radical Change
08. The Things I've Seen
09. Throw Them To The Lions
10. A Dying Machine
11. Cauterize
12. Wish You Well

Volbeat
01. The Devil's Bleeding Crown
02. Heaven Nor Hell / A Warrior's Call / I Only Want To Be With You
03. Lola Montez
04. The Lonesome Rider
05. Sad Man's Tongue
06. Slaytan
08. For Evigt
09. 16 Dollars
10. Seal The Deal
11. Let It Burn
12. Black Rose
13. Fallen
14. Doc Holliday
15. Still Counting

Iron Maiden
01. Aces High
02. Where Eagles Dare
03. 2 Minutes To Midnight
04. The Clansman
06. Revelations
07. For The Greater Good Of God
09. Sign Of The Cross
12. The Number Of The Beast
13. Iron Maiden
Encore:
15. Hallowed Be Thy Name
16. Run To The Hills