Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Back in 2014

Photo by Petra
We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties so there haven't been many posts lately.
We will be back in 2014 with  more. Until then...

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Marietta Fafouti

In recent years there has been a surge of Greek artists singing in English, whether they play rock, pop or dance music, with varying degrees of success. One of these is Marietta Fafouti which would probably be classified in the pop category although she is supported by a full band. Her steady, day job at an ad agency allows her to pursuit her interest in music without being worried about her income. (Plus she uses her talent at work by composing jingles). She is quite successful in Greece although I had never seen her perform before. I had the chance to do that this summer after being invited by a friend. It was a series of different gigs that were organized by the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) in its garden with a low admission price.
Even this concert had one thing in common with the Bruce Springsteen one I attended earlier in the summer: They both played "Twist & Shout"!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Get ready to Ejekt with Peter Hook and the Pet Shop Boys

My previous experience with Ejekt Festival was not a good one. This was back in 2007 and one the bill were Madness, The Beastie Boys and Underworld (in that order, with Underworld headlining). I went to see mainly Madness and the Beatie Boys were an added extra for me. I didn't much care for Underworld, not having ventured past "Born Slippy" (that "lager, lager" thing from "Trainspotting"). So, I had to get there early. And so I did, and enjoyed the full set from Madness

Then it was time for The Beasties, who played quite a few of the instrumentals from their new - at the time - album "The Mix-Up"

At some point, during their set a huge black smoke column was noticed, coming from the back of the venue. What we learnt afterwards was that some people invaded the venue throwing petrol bombs setting on fire several cars in the parking lot in the process. The Beastie Boys had to leave the stage mid-set (thankfully they had been playing for quite some time), Madness managed to hide in their dressing room, while a member of Underworld was injured by a brick thrown at him.

And to top that off, while I was returning home the tram I was riding in collided with a passing car. Nobody was injured.

I did not claim compensation for my ticket (it was not given anyway) because I had seen what I wanted: Madness and The Beastie Boys...
...Fast forward to 2013 and I was ready for my second Ejekt. This was unexpected, but the Pet Shop Boys were announced as headliners. I had last seen them back in 1991 at Birmingham NEC (where "Performance" was filmed). Happy Mondays were also announced and that was an added bonus.

Other names were also announced, but the day before the festival the cancellations started. Happy Mondays cancelled (but Peter Hook & The Light who replaced them playing Joy Division and New Order tracks were a nice reward). A few hours later Palma Violets cancelled and were replaced by The Wedding Singers.
The Wedding Singers are a Greek band that do exactly what it says on the tin. They play 80's and 90's well known pop hits and they are the perfect band to hire to perform on someone's wedding. In fact they could have come straight out of The wedding Singer movie with Adam Sandler.
Next up were Bittersweet, another Greek band

And then it was the turn of The Jamming Funkers, the band with the best stage presence of all the Greek bands, featuring dancers on stage, both male and female, a horn section and a powerful vocal performance from their lead singer.

And then it was the turn of The Viper vikings, the last (and the most electronic) of the Greek acts.
They provided a good transition to the international acts starting with the equally electronic James Blake. My personal opinion though is that they would "segue" better with Peter Hook & The Light who also did an electronic set, but they also play synth-pop like The Viper Vikings. You see, I thought that James Blake (and here comes another "personal opinion") is one of those artists that sound better on record than they do on stage. However several people in the crowd had come especially to see him, he is quite popular in Greece, so we have to respect that... (I remember a girl standing beside me watching him with such dedication it was ubelievable. So a big RESPECT goes out to her)

01. Air & Lack Thereof
02. I Never Learnt to Share
03. Life Round Here
04. To the Last
05. CMYK
06. I Am Sold
07. Lindisfarne I
08. Lindisfarne II
09. Limit to Your Love (Feist cover)
10. Voyeur
11. The Wilhelm Scream
12. Retrograde
And then it was time for the first of my favourites. Hooky from New Order (and Joy Division) with his band Peter Hook & The Light playing New Order (and Joy Division) songs. Now I am not going to lie, I thoroughly enjoyed his one hour set, but he did receive a lot of criticism from other people, mainly that his voice is not that strong and that he should hire a lead singer. However, I must admit that I prefer him singing, mainly because that enhances the illusion that I am watching a part of New Order (and Joy Division)

Red Bull were one of the sponsors of the festival and they had placed a fridge full of cans of their drink on stage. However it was locked and Peter could not grab one for refreshment towards the end of his set. OK, we understand it was up there for advertising purposes but in this case "advertising" probably meant that we, the fans, would see it and then head on to the bar to buy one.
01. Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division cover)
02. Ceremony (New Order cover)
03. Everything's Gone Green (New Order cover)
04. Bizarre Love Triangle (New Order cover)
05. Your Silent Face (New Order cover)
06. 5 8 6 (New Order cover)
07. Fine Time (New Order cover)
08. True Faith (New Order cover)
09. Temptation (New Order cover)
10. Blue Monday (New Order cover)
While the stage was being prepared for The Pet Shop Boys, Faith SFX appeared as a warm up act, a rapper and human beatbox
Finally, it was time for what most of us had come there for: The Pet Shop Boys

After a long(ish) wait they started off with Axis behind the stage cover which was eventually removed to reveal them in all their glory

They even re-enacted a scene from their musical "Closer To Heaven"
This gig was part of their "Electric Tour" to promote their album of the same name which was a suprising return to form with upbeat and dance tunes and which was, I think, not officially released yet at the time of the gig. A very good article (in Greek) about that (featuring several of my photos he he) can be found herehttp://provatos.blogspot.gr/2013/07/blog-post_17.html (If you decide to read that using Google Translate, please ignore its title. It does get lost in translation. Really. TRUST ME). 9 months before that, another album had been released, "Elysium", which was considered rather boring by the fans and was probably a contractual obligation. They did promote the older album as well (and despite the criticism, "Memory Of The Future" is an exceptional song)

And so the hits kept coming (with an exceptional laser show during "I'm Not Scared").

And just two weeks after seeing Bruce Springsteen in Paris, I got to hear another Bruce Springsteen song!

Even a b-side was played ("I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too)"). And so it was all over, but not before they came back with an encore of "West End Girls" and "Vocal".
The sound was, well, not bad, but it definitely could have been better (Too much bass during Peter Hook's set and at the beginning of The Pets). It was rather a small crowd (well, smaller than expected). The Pets previous appearance in Athens at an indoor venue in November 2009 was sold out. The usual Ejekt crowd was expecting some other act than The Pet Shop Boys ("They're too old", "ancient history", "my mother is a fan" were some of the comments), but still those who were there enjoyed it to the fullest. As for me, it was my second Pets gig. The first one was 22 years ago at the Birmingham NEC where the "Performance" video was shot...
01. Axis
02. One More Chance / A Face Like That
03. Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)
04. Memory of the Future ('New Single Mix' version)
05. Fugitive
06. Integral
..... Sample of "The Rite of Spring" (Igor Stravinsky piece)
07. I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing
08. Suburbia
09. I'm Not Scared
10. Last to Die (Bruce Springsteen cover)
11. Somewhere (Leonard Bernstein cover)
12. Leaving
13. Thursday
14. Love Etc.
15. I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too) 
16. Rent
17. Miracles
18. It's a Sin
19. Domino Dancing
20. Go West (Village People cover)
21. Always on My Mind (Elvis Presley cover)
22. West End Girls
23. Vocal

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Lana Del Rey with Echo & The Bunnymen @ Rockwave Festival

By now, Rockwave Festival is the longest running festival in Greece. It started in the 90's and it's still going on every summer. However, the last time I attended was back in 1999 when Patti Smith and Garbage were playing on the same day. What I still remember though is what happened after the concert. Next to the place were the festival was taking place was a night club. A young couple, after leaving the festival thought it was a good idea to go to the club for a drink. However the Greek bouncers didn't think that "rockers" were worthy enough to be allowed inside. They didn't think that "rock concert people" were worthy to mix with their own crowd, the "club going trendy people" (the life-style mentality that was going strong in Greece in the 90's fuelled by the respective magazines). The guy complained,  a fight started with the bouncers and they beat him up so bad he ended up in hospital. Word got around to the people who were leaving the gig, they started throwing things (among them, chairs) at the bouncers, and the bouncers were throwing them back. And then the police intervened and started throwing tear-gas. You get the picture.
Anyway, nothing like that can happen at Terra Vibe, it's far away from the nearest night club, in fact it's so far away from everything, it's difficult to get there as I have mentioned before.
The main reason I wanted to see Lana Del Rey was that we don't often have pop concerts in Greece. And especially from artists being at the peak of their popularity. And when we do have them they sometimes turn out to be disasters. Like the Fly Beeeyond festival in 2007 with very poor attendance for Avril Lavigne and Pink's non-appearance. Having said that, it's important for the organizers to determine beforehand what the target audience for such a concert is. In the case of Lana Del Rey, it's teenage girls. And for teenage girls, it's not easy to go to Terra Vibe. Most of them don't drive. And if they do, they usually don't have a car. So they have to ask mum and dad to get them there, to a place 40km outside Athens. Plus, it's not a good idea to mix this audience with the target audience for Suicidal Tendencies and Iced Earth even if these two were scheduled to play on a different stage. Thankfully it was peaceful and all went well.
When I arrived, Suicidal Tendencies were playing on the Vibe stage. I am not a fan, but I really enjoyed them.

Next, on the Terra Stage, it was the other reason I decided to go on that day. My beloved Echo & The Bunnymen, who I had already seen in Hyde Park at the 2009 Hard Rock Calling Festival.
I had a Golden Circle ticket (which us Greeks with our megalomania like to call V.I.P.), but there just weren't enough people in there. 

Most of them (and still not enough) were outside it, prompting Ian McCullough to declare that "You are all V.I.P.'s to us". Still, it was a great set featuring of course "The Killing Moon"

Next, on the Vibe Stage it was time for Iced Earth. Now, I listen to a few thrash metal bands (even Slayer), however, these were not to my taste. Just my personal opinion though. The crowd enjoyed them.
And then after a short walk around the grounds of Terra Vibe, it was back to the Terra Stage for Lana Del Rey

Now, I wasn't expecting any miracles, she has only released one (and a half) album, but it was good enough, even though there were some problems with the sound (Mainly her voice wasn't high enough in the mix).

She sang most of her songs, the lyrics of which her audience (the aforementioned teenage girls) knew by heart. Still it was an enjoyable night. And if it was held at a venue in the city of Athens it would have probably attracted a bigger audience.