Thursday, 14 April 2022

Mark Lanegan live in Athens April 2012

Having seen Mark Lanegan with Isobel Campbell back in December 2010, it was now time to see him by himself. I liked Isobel's music as well as their collaboration. At that concert, a friend of mine, who was a Lanegan fan from the 90's also came and it was she who made that legendary remark: "We came here to see the son of Tom Waits and we got Belle And Sebastian instead. This woman has really mellowed him out". Anyway, in 2012 he released a new album (Blues Funeral) and he paid us his customary visit to Athens, this time at Fuzz Club. The first half of 2012 had been very quiet for me gigwise, as I was saving for the upcoming Bruce Springsteen tour of the following summer, and Mark Lanegan was the only international artist I saw live during that period.

Support was provided by Illegal Operation who I'd seen live before at Blues Bar. (The place where I first saw The Big Nose Attack). And I finally learned what their name was!
 
They played well, and would have played even better (and more) if their amp hadn't blown up. And then it was time for Mark and his band.
He began with songs from the new album and continued with older songs. And he played one more song as an encore.





HOWEVER! Although I wasn't counting, I learned that the gig lasted for only 71 minutes. Nevertheless, he had warned us before he played and he had asked the audience to refrain from smoking. Being typical Greeks, they ignored both. It was obvious that he had a problem.
Once again, at the merchandise stand there was a selection of live CD's self-released by Mark Lanegan on offer and I bought one of a gig that had taken place earlier that year, on the special date of the 29th of February to be precise.


Anyway, personally speaking, I liked Mark live, both with his band and with Isobel. He will be missed...


SETLIST:
01. The Gravedigger's Song
02. Sleep With Me
03. Hit The City
04. Wedding Dress
05. One Way Street
06. Resurrection Song
07. Wish You Well
08. Gray Goes Black
09. Crawlspace
10. Deep Black Vanishing Train
11. Quiver Syndrome
12. One Hundred Days
13. Creeping Coastline Of Lights
14. Riot In My House
15. Ode To Sad Disco
16. St. Louis Elegy
17. Tiny Grain Of Truth
Encore:
18. Pendulum

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Mark Lanegan & Isobel Campbell live in Athens December 2010

I first noticed this duo the previous time they had come to Athens. I had gone to another gig at Gagarin back then and I noticed the promo clip playing for the Lanegan / Campbell appearance on the video screens of the venue. What caught my attention was one of the songs featured in the clip. One that went "I'm always looking for the sun". This was actually called "Falling From Grace" and it was from one of Isobel Campbell's projects called The Gentle Waves. I didn't manage to go to the gig at that time, but I decided that the next time they came to Athens, I would attend. And finally that time had come in December 2010.
Support was provided by Greek band Tango With Lions whose song "In A Bar" was quite popular at that time.
 

 


And then it was time for the main act. Although it wasn't quite what I had expected, the truth is I've loved it. Several of my friends had also come and opinions were varying. Some people thought it was boring. The thing is, I've always liked this type of music. Meaning those really slow, soft songs with the almost "ethereal" female vocals. The closest example that comes to my mind is Mazzy Star, from the mid 90's. What must be noted, however, was that this project was a personal one of Campbell's. She had written the songs, and she had also produced their latest album "HAWK". As one of my friends remarked "we came here to see the son of Tom Waits and we got Belle And Sebastian instead. This woman has really mellowed him out". (Isobel Campbell had been a member of Belle And Sebastian in the past). That remark made me want to see Lanegan live by himself and less than 18 months later, I would also get that chance. 

 

 

At the merchandise stand I found a selection of live CD's self-released by Mark Lanegan and I bought one of a gig with Isobel Campbell. 

I would finally get to see Mark Lanegan live by himself 16 months later, Sadly, he is no longer with us...

SETLIST:
01. We Die And See Beauty Reign
02. You Won't Let Me Down Again
03. Come Undone
04. Snake Song
05. Who Built The Road
06. Free To Walk
07. Honey Child What Can I Do?
08. The Circus Is Leaving Town
09. To Hell And Back Again
10. Saturday's Gone
11. Back Burner
12. Time Of The Season
13. Something To Believe
14. Salvation
15. Come On Over (Turn Me On)
16. Get Behind Me
Encore:
17. Revolver
18. (Do You Wanna) Come Walk With Me?
19. Ramblin' Man
20. Wedding Dress




Monday, 28 March 2022

The Sonics supported by Down & Out live in Athens December 2010

For the third consecutive day, a third consecutive gig, this time at Gagarin for The Sonics, on Friday the 3rd of December. The Sonics had been around since the 60's. I learned about them in 1989 when I heard "Have Love Will Travel" albeit covered by Crazyhead (an alternative band of that era). They had also come to Greece the previous year, in 2009, again at Gagarin, and I hadn't gone to see them. "I hope they come again" I thought. "But, they've been around since the '60's and are still playing live in 2010? They must be very old". And indeed they were!  However, The Sonics weren't the only reason why I went to Gagarin that night. I also went to see Down & Out, the Greek opening act, whose drummer was Little Tonnie a fellow member of No Surrender (a Greek community of Bruce Springsteen fans). This was the first time I saw his band live and later I followed him with his next one The Big Nose Attack who are a regular feature of this blog.


 

They played a very nice set and we were pleasantly surprised when they finished it with their own rendition of Prince's Kiss.



In the foyer their CD was on sale along with a 7 inch vinyl single  (which can easily fit inside a woman's handbag). Then, it was the turn of The Meanie Geanies, another Greek band comprising 4 women and a drummer of unknown gender, hidden behind his own hairstyle, who were playing a pure 60's garage rock style.


(The sound of their keyboards alone is enough to send you 60 years back in time). And finally it was time for The Sonics, with their own 60's garage-rock style with all our (their) favourite songs (eg Have Love Will Travel, The Witch) and several other rock'n'roll standards.



And, as far as Gagarin was concerned, it seems that you don't have to stay home in order to smoke suspicious substances. You just go to Gagarin and breathe deeply instead. And it's free! (OK, you'll have to pay 30 Euros for the gig ticket)


SETLIST:
01. He's Waitin'
02. Money (That's What I Want)
03. Cinderella
04. Have Love, Will Travel
05. Vampire Kiss
06. Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark
07. Boss Hoss
08. You've Got Your Head On Backwards
09. Don't Back Down
10. Lucille
11. Cheap Shades
12. The Hustler
13. Bad Attitude
14. Strychnine
15. Shot Down
16. Dirty Robber
17. Psycho
Encore:
18. Louie Louie
19. The Witch
20. Keep a Knockin'





Thursday, 10 March 2022

Bring On Your Wrecking Ball - 10 Years Later


 


10 years ago, on the 6th of March 2012, one of the most important albums in my collection was released: Bruce Springsteen's "Wrecking Ball". We knew there was going to be a new album since late 2011 when the world tour had been announced but we didn't know what the album was going to be like. There were many people who dismissed it as a bad album because (in their own words) "Bruce doesn't release any good music anymore", in fact there are many who still do (dismiss it as a bad album that is). Nothing could be further from the truth as I pointed out in my original review of the album which was the first post written in English on this blog (because my friends from the social media asked for it) and prompted me to convert my blog into an "English speaking" one since January of the following year, 2013.

My opinion on the Bruce Springsteen albums since 2007's "Magic" is a very specific one. First of all, going back to 2002, I think all fans agree that "The Rising" is a great album. I will not examine "Devils + Dust" and "The Seeger Sessions" because the former is a "solo" album (ie without the E Street Band) and the latter is a completely different project. So, it's clear that we're talking about albums with the E Street Band here. And from Magic onward a specific pattern seems to have emerged : One especially good album followed by a "not so good" one.

Let's examine this: I think most fans agree that "Magic" is a very good album, what with its depiction of Bush-era America et al. This was followed in early 2009 by "Working On A Dream" which consisted of songs written on the road during the previous year's tour and seemed to serve as a companion to the following year's tour. In fact, after the first few dates of that tour, Bruce dropped most songs from the album keeping only two: the title track and "Outlaw Pete". In the same manner, "Wrecking Ball" which was indeed a good album (and I'm going to remind you why that was soon) was followed by 2014's "High Hopes" which featured some older outtakes, new versions of older tracks recorded during the previous year's tour (though we were finally glad to have an electric version of "The Ghost Of Tom Joad" and a studio version of "American Skin"), and seemed to serve as a companion to the following year's tour...

So, back to "Wrecking Ball". It is indeed a great album. When the title was announced we realized that we knew one of the songs: The title track had already been released back in 2009 in a live version from Giants Stadium. One year later it was also released in a physical format as a 10 inch vinyl single. However, when we actually heard the album, a few days before it was released we realized what it was about. And it had come out at the right time: Bruce had written these songs about the recession in the United States, but by reading the lyrics we realized that he could just have written them about Greece, a country that was suffering from austerity measures at the time. And that made us look forward with even more anticipation to the European tour which, for some of us, would begin on the 10th of June in Florence which turned out to be a night to remember, for a totally different reason... There will hopefully be more about that in June when the 10th anniversary of that tour comes. In the meantime, you can read my original review of the album again which you can find at this address : http://papdx.blogspot.com/2012/03/bring-on-your-wrecking-ball_05.html. There's no need to repeat it here. As I re-read it myself after all these years, I realized that I needn't change a single word...



Thursday, 24 February 2022

Puressence live in Athens December 2010

So, what do Scorpions, James, Placebo, Archive and... Puressence have in common? Back in 2010 these bands were considered to have made Greece their second home.
It was said that if Puressence stopped performing live in other countries and only appeared in Greece, they could still make a living. Such was their connection to Greece that their compilation "Sharpen Up The Knives" that was out at that time, featured a Greek model on the cover!

 
Despite all this, I had never been able to see them live before 2010 when they appeared at PassPort in Piraeus on Thursday 2 December.




Well, I had almost seen them. They were playing at Terra Vibe as support on the Depeche Mode gig that never happened the year before, but since it took such a long time to get inside the venue, by the time I settled in, their set had finished.
PassPort was a new venue back then as I had been informed from its site, very nice, but a bit small, if one considered how many fans Puressence had in Greece.  Even Gagarin was bigger. However, when, at that time, the minimum ticket price for a gig was 30 Euros, that particular Puressence gig cost only 20. Two Greek bands appeared as support, Menta and Lexicon Project. And here's a photo of Menta's singer, in a Freddie Mercury t-shirt... Three years later, Puressence split up, so that was indeed my last chance to see them. And two years after that, PassPort would close down...
SETLIST:
01. Near Distance
02. I Suppose
03. It Doesn't Matter Anymore
04. She's Gotten Over You
05. London In The Rain
06. Raise Me To The Ground
07. Don't Know Any Better
08. Standing In Your Shadow
09. Walking Dead
10. In Harm's Way
11. Casting Lazy Shadows
12. India
Encore:
13. Make Time
14. Palisades
15. This Feeling
16. Sharpen Up The Knives
Encore 2:
17. I Suppose

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Uli Jon Roth live in Athens December 2010

Up until 2010 I had seen Scorpions twice. The problem was that at both gigs they only played songs from their "recent" period (meaning from 1979 onwards). To be more precice, I can say that the carεer of Scorpions can be divided into 2 periods : The era before "Lovedrive" (until 1978) and the era after it (after 1979 when they changed both their record company and their guitarist). During their first period, their guitarist was Uli Jon Roth. He quit the band when he met (and fell in love with) Monika Dannemann, who, by the way, was Jimi Hendrix's last girlfriend (but that, as they say, is another story). Two songs from that period were extremely popular in Greece: "Pictured Life" and (mainly) "In Trance". And since Scorpions didn't play these songs neither in 2006 nor in 2010 at their "last ever" concert, Uli Roth himself came to Athens on Wednesday the 1st of December to play them himself.
 

 


The gig's flyer, which was given to me outside the Peace & Friendship stadium before the Scorpions concert, was advertising an acoustic set. But, as he told us himself on the night of the gig, he decided to get a band together and play an electric rock set.


 

He sang some of the songs himself, but he also had a singer in his band especially for the Scorpions tracks. 

And he played a lot of those as we can see from the setlist.
Support was provided by the Greek band "Leaving Tomorrow" who, among others performed a 12 minute song! 


 As for Scorpions... they would in fact return for an MTV Unplugged set in 2013. SETLIST: 

01. Pictured Life
02. Catch Your Train
03. The Sails Of Charon
04. Fire Wind
05. All Along The Watchtower
06. If 6 Was 9/Little Wing
07. I've Got To Be Free
08. Enola Gay - Hiroshima Today
09. Solo Keyboards
10. We'll Burn The Sky
11. In Trance
12. Fly To The Rainbow
13. Polar Nights
14. Dark Lady
Encore:
15. Kojo No Tsuki
16. Catch Your Train 


 

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Texas live in London February 2001

So far this year, I've posted about a gig from 1981 (my first ever, with City), one from 1991 (Pet Shop Boys - Performance), so now I'm going to post about a gig from 2001 when I went to see Texas at Wembley Arena in London. The first Texas single I had bought was their very first, "I Don't Want A Lover" back in 1989. They didn't have much luck with their next two albums, but they were back in the charts with their fourth one. This time was different, however because they had just issued their Greatest Hits album and they had embarked on a Greatest Hits tour? What better chance to see them, then, eh?|
I arrived at Wembley (the arena, not the stadium) just in time to see the support act Semisonic which were actually very good. They had already had a hit with "Secret Smile", but their new - at that time - single, "Chemistry" was even better!
Texas came up next, with, as expected a Greatest Hits setlist. This included all three new songs from the compilation album, because, yes, even though it was a Greatest Hits album, it contained three new songs: "In Demand" which had been released as a single before the album, "Inner Smile" which was being released just as their UK tour was taking place, and "Guitar Song" which featured a sample of "Je T'Aime (Moi Non Plus)" and was never released as a single, the record company preferring to release a remix of "I Don't Want A Lover" instead. "Inner Smile" in particular featured Sharleen dressed as Elvis in the video, and that's how she appeared on stage for the first encore to perform it. And she kept her Elvis gear on for the next song which was a cover of "Suspicious Minds".
Finally, although the year was 2001, it featured a very 2010's moment. Sharleen invited one fan from the first rows on stage with the band and what was the first thing he did? He took a camera out and took a selfie with her! It wasn't even a digital camera, so he'd probably have to wait until the following day to see if the photo had come out alright.
Meanwhile, while doing my research for this gig, I only managed to find a single tiny photo from Wembley, and even that is from the previous day's gig. However one day while going through things in a drawer I discovered my ticket! And although there aren't any videos from that gig, a few months later they filmed their gig in Paris and along with their music videos they released it as a DVD calling it "Texas Paris" (as in the movie "Paris Texas", get it?). They even released a new album this year, 2021, so it seems that there is actually a future for them. Let's hope so...

SETLIST:
01. In Demand
02. Black Eyed Boy
03. Halo
04. In Our Lifetime
05. Guitar Song
06. Insane
07. Tired Of Being Alone
08. Pull Up To The Bumper
09. Put Your Arms Around Me
10. Prayer For You
11. I Don't Want A Lover
12. When We Are Together
13. Summer Son
Encore 1:
14. Inner Smile
15. Suspicious Mind (Elvis Presley cover, lyrics)
Encore 2:
16. Say What You Want