Thursday, 27 May 2021

City live in Athens May 1981


I have just realized that this year I am celebrating 40 years after my first live gig. It was in fact Saturday the 23rd of May 1981 when an East German band called City played in Athens. Unlike other gigs of that period (like "Rock In Athens 85") I did not manage to find any photos or posts about it on the internet. But there are so many things I remember about that day so my post is 100% original and I've used the album covers as photos.
Now, to understand the situation at that time I must give you the background to this story. From 1967 to 1980 there were no gigs by international rock artists in Greece. The last one, on the 17th of April, 1967, was by The Rolling Stones and it was violently interrupted by the police. Four days later, on the 21st, a military junta was imposed. The next gig by an international artist to take place in Greece was in 1980 by The Police (the band fronted by Sting, not the Greek police which had stopped the Rolling Stones gig 13 years before!). After that, more international artists started coming to Greece for gigs. At that particular Police gig, one of the roadies had a tape with him featuring a strange song with a violin solo. He kept on playing that tape while the crowd was waiting for The Police to come on stage. That strange song was "Am Fenster" by City, an East German band. By word of mouth that song quickly became a huge hit all over Greece.
In 1981, I had already bought City's two albums that were available in Greece ("City I" and "City II"), so when I saw the ad for the gig in "POP+ROCK" magazine, I decided to ask my parents to let me go. I asked one of my classmates to come with me and our parents agreed to let us go on condition that my father would come with us. (I actually remember that my dad was afraid that there might be riots of a political nature because the band was from East Germany). I bought the tickets and the day before the concert I went with my dad to the football stadium where the gig would take place so that he would get to know the area. We actually managed to get inside and had a look around while the pitch was being watered.
It's amazing how many things I remember about that gig 40 years later. Before the gig started there was someone going around the stands shouting "Mandolato!". This was what he was selling which roughly translates as nougat, a sweet that was quite popular in Greece. I'm guessing that he was doing the same job every Sunday when football matches were played at this stadium the home of Apollon F.C.
Vlassis Bonatsos a Greek musician, was the support act. He had just released a new album called "Genika" ("Generally").

He played several songs from that album one of which was called "Vgale To Magio Sou" ("Take Off Your Bathing Suit"). The lyrics actually went "Take off your bathing suit and dive into your subconscious". This did not prove very popular with the audience who started booing and taking the piss. He managed to finish his set and as he was going backstage the crowd were chanting en masse "Take off your bathing suit, take off your bathing suit!"
After a short wait, with many more shouts of "Mantolato!", City came on stage. I remember that they played the opening track from the City I album "Es Ist Unheimlich Heiß", I remember "Bulgarien Rock" from the "City II" album (but I think they sung it in English and another song called "Love You" where the frontman was approaching every other member of the band telling them that, well, he loved them. We were of course waiting for "Am Fenster" but while waiting for that, what caught our attention was a song that went "I sing about rock'n'roll and you understand". This one got the audience singing along. The song was actually called "Something To Tell You" and was featured on the third City album that was released in Greece called "Dreamland" which mainly consisted of some of their older songs now sung in English. "Am Fenster" was, of course, saved for last. There was no encore and that was actually good, because if they had saved "Am Fenster" for the encore, we never would have heard it. Greek audiences, deprived of concerts for 13 years, did not even know what an encore was! So when the band went offstage they started leaving.
Two more things that I remember from back then. The following Monday at school, my friend was telling everyone about the guy selling "mantolato", and that on the actual night of the gig my dad had to use makeshift earplugs because he was not used to the loud volume of rock gigs. It was his first concert as well!
Finally, 30 years later, I saw "City" CD's being sold at the gift shop of the DDR museum in Berlin...

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Recoil live in Athens April 2010

While still in Depeche Mode,  Alan Wilder had already started his personal project, Recoil. And dedicated himself to it after leaving DM. And back in 2010 he released "Selected", which was basically a compilation of tracks from all those years. During the tour to promote it he performed a gig in Athens on Sunday the 11th of April 2010 at Fuzz Club. I should point out first of all that this wasn't an ordinary gig. And I have to mention that because when I uploaded 2 videos on YouTube, somebody made a comment that looked like this: "You must have had an invitation... Recoil who? We paid 28 euros to see a DJSet of a guy playing with his midi and another one who was looking at a laptop? The biggest rip-off I have ever witnessed" (And that was the "clean" version of the comment) It's true that it was basically a DJ set, accompanied by a keyboard. And we should also make it clear that we are talking about electronic music which isn't necessarily pop, ie we're not talking about electro-pop or synth-pop. Some tracks had vocals, from the guest vocalists that Alan had at times used, which on that particular night were pre-recorded. And all these were accompanied by video projections on 3 of the club's 4 walls. Therefore it was more of a show than a gig. And definitely not a concert. (The word "gig" was suggested by one person who commented on the original Greek post). A similar thing happens when Tiesto comes, he doesn't play his tracks live, but instead he's changing records, CD's, or MP3 files, the guy is a DJ!. This would have been the response I would have given to that comment, but somebody else replied with an even better one: "t****z were you aware of the kind of gig you were attending or did you just happen to pass by and went in? There were plenty of videos on youtube from their previous appearances and even Wilder himself had said in an interview that this wasn't going to be a classic "rock'n'roll" concert"... Anyway, as far as the gig was concerned Fuzz Club wasn't full. I don't know if that means that it was considered a "failure", the point was that you could move about freely and drink your beer like a normal person. The audience by the way enjoyed it,  especially, when at some point a snippet of "Never Let Me Down Again" by Depeche Mode was played as we can see in the following video: 

Support was provided by Greek band In Trance 95. They also played electro and in their music you could hear sounds that would have maybe reminded you of Depeche Mode in the 80's. "Recoil:Selected" was available in different formats one of which was a box set with 3 CD's and 1 DVD (which I think featured the videos projected during their tour).

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Alison Moyet live in Athens March 2010

The first concert covered by The PAP DX Blog wasn't properly covered. That's because it was taking place at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron). It is almost impossible to take a photo or record a video there, because if you do the staff will be on you in an instant. However, when I went there in March 2010 to see Alison Moyet, I managed to take a couple of photos and record 20 seconds of video. And when I originally wrote about it in the blog (in Greek) I combined my post with a review of the Yazoo concert in Manchester which had taken place two years before and which has already been covered here in English.
The first thing I noticed when Alison came on stage was how much weight she had lost compared to 2008. That didn't matter at all to me because I had considered her beautiful since her Yazoo days in the 80's no matter what her weight was.
Thankfully she didn't follow the "program" mentioned in the press release (which was probably the tracklist of the new compilation her record company insisted on releasing as she mentioned in one of her interviews) and as a result we got an extra Yazoo track and more from her first two albums which were her most successful. Most of the songs were presented in a different arrangement to the ones we were use to from her albums. You could say they were more "jazzy" in some cases. 

Some of the songs we heard that night (not in the order in which they were performed but in a chronological one) were these: Only You, Situation, Don't Go from Yazoo. We could add Ode To Boy II here, a song she had also recorded with Yazoo as Ode To Boy. Love Resurrection (her first solo single), All Cried Out (the second one, which I didn't care much for, but the audience loved it), That Ole Devil Called Love, Is This Love (one of my favourites from her second album), Weak In The Presence Of Beauty ("This song is like old boyfriends. You know you loved them once...") Ordinary Girl (in an arrangement "without the kitchen sink" as she said which made even me like it although it was never one of my favourites), Love Letters (she brought the house down on this one) This House, Ne Me Quitte Pas, It Won't Be Long, The Windmills Of Your Mind (which most people know from "The Thomas Crown Affair"). These were all that I could remember but I left one as an honorary mention: The last song (before the encore): When in 1994 I had almost forgotten about Alison Moyet she released this incredible track : Whispering Your Name. I thought it was strange that the Greek audience remembered that. After the end of the concert I headed straight to the stand with the CD's so that I could buy those that were missing from my collection...

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Group sex in Berlin

And now that I've got your attention, I will talk about the 4 days we spent in Berlin 10 years ago. No, I did not go for a concert. A friend, who was already there to cover the Berlinale (Berlin Film Festival), invited us to hang out. I didn't have enough money to go at the time, but thanks to EasyHotel which was charging only 25 euros a night for a single room, I made it. I want to emphasize that EasyHotels are not tiny dirty holes, but super-clean hotels providing just the basics: A bed, a bathroom with a toilet and shower including soap, shower gel, towels and toilet paper. No, there's no table to spread your things on. Why would you do that anyway? You wouldn't be planning to spend much time in your room now, would you? If you want to watch TV, you'll have to pay extra (Seriously now, you're going to Berlin and you'll stay in the room to watch TV?). Do you want Wi-Fi? You'll have to pay extra. Do you want something to eat or to drink? There's a vending machine at the reception. But don't worry: If you need more toilet paper you WON'T have to pay extra. It's free. So we went to... Alexanderplatz... Potzdammerplatz... ...we basically went to so many platzes that we became very mixed up with their names. The only one that was easy to remember was Hanzaplatz. We also went to the Brandenburg Gate (natürlich)... ...and at Checkpoint Charlie, where the people pretending to be the "guards" charge 2 euros to take a picture with them and when we told them that we were Greek we were greeted by shouts of "Geia shou, malaka, Olympiάkos, Panathinάikos" And since we were movie fans, we remembered Wim Wenders and his movies "Wings Of Desire" and "Faraway, So Close" We also went to the East Side Gallery to see what was left of the wall We also went to the new synagogue... ...which was particularly interesting for a vinyl fan like myself  And now for some museums: The Film Museum (Deutsche Kinemathek)... The DDR Museum (East Germany Museum), where we were reminded of the cars the proletarians used to own... ...and those that belonged to party members... well as of the fact that one way of showing resistance to the regime was through the practice of nudism... At the gift shop I found a CD by City (East German rock band, which was the first one I ever saw live back in 1981 in Athens), as well as a "Best Of" of East Germany titled "Hits Der DDR". I ended up buying the latter. At the Checkpoint Charlie museum we had the chance to observe the various ways that people were using in order to try and flee to the west... And of course we went to the Pergamonmuseum. Berlin girls were a little bit cold... ...but that was probably due to the subzero temperature that persisted while we were there. There was no snow. In fact, the only snow we saw in Berlin was this: near the Brandenburg Gate. Of course we did manage to track down the Greek elements of the city: Near the hotel was the "Kunsthaus Tacheles", an art house that was permanently closed down a year later: As far was food was concerned we didn't eat anything German. We went to the Monsieur Wuong Vietnamese restaurant... and to an American fast food restaurant called "White Trash"... ...where you can eat Elvis's favourite burger! As far as drinks were concerned we went to Scotch & Sofa, where a Jack Daniel's will only set you back 5 Euros and 10 cents. Want to try to find Jack Daniels at this price in Greece? Good luck! We also went to Solar, 16 floors above Berlin I've still haven't explained why I have used "Group Sex" in the title of this post (apart from the fact that this will probably attract perverts to my blog). This was a something that came from C, a member of our gang who had a habit of changing the names of everyday things and places. So the "group ticket" which we had to buy at the metro became "group sex" and "Checkpoint Charlie" became "Charlie Brown". Of course Hanzaplatz became Hanzaplast, but this was something that could happen to anybody... And since I mentioned the metro, one of the lines reminded me of one of my favourite bands: Finally, I said that I didn't go for a concert. But the opportunity for one presented itself. At club Bassy we saw Kilroy, a band from Sweden who played "cheesy rock'n'roll" as they claimed. A great night out for my last night in Berlin which ended with me buying their CD and their 7 inch single...

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

When I went to Munich in 2010 to see some jewellery

Since the blog's 10 year anniversary last year, and taking into account the fact that because of the current situation, there is no travel and no concerts, I started revisiting some of the blog's early posts that were only available in Greek, translating them to English. I did that with all concerts from 2009 (and some from 2010), but I also want to do that with other posts that don't have anything to do with concerts. This was my first "pure travel" post from 2010, when I went to Munich, not to see a gig, but to attend a jewellery exhibition where a friend of mine (in fact, one of my two BFF's) was displaying her work.

When, during the month before the trip, I was announcing to my friends that I would go to Munich, everybody was asking "who are you going to see?" meaning "which artist" or "which band".

This time though, I wasn't going to a concert. In fact, it was my first trip abroad for two years without going to a gig (the last one before that was when I had gone to Austria for Euro 2008). This time the purpose of my trip was different. A friend of mine was taking part in the Inhorgenta jewellery exhibition and invited me to come along (You can check out her work here).

Here we can see the arrivals section at Munich airport. There is a yellow line to indicate, for those waiting outside, where they should stand, in order to enable travellers to exit safely. A line like this would be completely useless in Greece, so at the Athens airport they have installed a metal bar, otherwise everyone would rush to the door.

Unfortunately, at Munich Airport, they were using Microsoft Windows, with the tragic results that we have all come to expect from this operating system.

A Fast food chain with seafood from the North Sea.

Beers, beers, beers

The Pope!

Bayern Munich FC memorabilia and merchandize.

Proof that even in 2010 you could NOT escape the 80's!

Sausages and beer. What else could somebody ask for?

Augustiner Bierhalle (Augustine's Brewery), where we enjoyed the aforementioned sausages and beer. I loved those particular sausages (Weisswurst) so much, but I couldn't easily find them in Greece. So, when a few months later I was coming back from Paris with a stopover at Munich Airport, I discovered that one of the airport's restaurants had Weisswurst. It was 10 o'clock in the morning, but needless to say, I had them for breakfast!

So, apparently there are Greek lawyers in Munich. But is the German word for "Lawyer" really "Dikigoros"?
The congress center hosting the Inhorgenta Exhibition.

Ducks, in the frozen lake next to the exhibition center.

On our way back to the hotel from the brewery, we came upon a performance from Helly Meier a famous Munich street artist. After the performance, people could buy his CD. He was an expert at making fun of the nationalities of the people attending his performances. This is the dialogue we has while I was buying his CD:
- How much is your CD?
- 10 Euros. Where are you from?
- Greece.
- Go away! You have no money!

(Join us here again soon on The PAP DX Blog, for more Germany when we have "Group sex in Berlin" one year later in 2011)