Thursday, 24 July 2014

Marsheaux Live In Athens 2007-2014

Before we begin, let's go back in time a little bit. As far back as 1988 in fact. Around Christmas. When MTV Europe had first started broadcasting - terrestrially - in Greece. One of the first music videos I watched when I tuned in was "The Promise" by When In Rome.

I really liked the song, but in Britain, where I was studying, it did not exactly set the charts alight. I managed to find it as a 7 inch single in the bargain bin of a record shop for 50p.
A few months later, in the summer of 1989, I noticed another great music video on Sky One which was also being transmitted in Greece: "Pure" by The Lightning Seeds. When I went back to Britain in the autumn I bought the 7 inch single as well. Again, from the bargain bin.

The years went by and we finally reached 2007. These two songs were still among my favourites and I thought I was the only person in Greece who remembered them. During that winter however I saw this commercial on TV:

Apparently somebody had covered my beloved "Pure". But who could it (they, actually) be?
I had already heard of Marsheaux since 2003. It was the time when Kylie Minogue had released "Slow" and as I read on Nitro magazine, Marsheaux was a Greek band comprised of two girls, Marianthi and Sophie (that's where their name came from (Mar[ianthi] + S[h]o[phie] = Marsheaux - geddit?) who were also known abroad, enough known so that they were commissioned to remix that particular track. Judging from that article, I could not understand what kind of music they were playing, but since they were doing remixes, I assumed that they played dance music (what we would now call EDM).  During that time their first album (E-Bay Queen) was released, but I didn't happen to listen or read anything more.
I heard about them again in 2006, when the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Athens. The Greek Public Television broadcaster (ERT) commissioned various new Greek artists to cover older Greek Eurovision entries. Thiese covers were collected in an album called "Eurorevisions". On this album, Marsheaux covered our 1996 entry "Emeis Forame To Heimona Anixiatika" (tranlslates as "We Wear Spring Clothes During The Winter") originally performed by Marianna Efstratiou. I heard the song, I saw them performing it on TV, but I did not think it was representative of their style. And then I forgot about them again.
Until the BIG DAY came, Friday the 1st of June 2007. That was the day when  OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark) were performing in Athens. You know OMD, those who had a big synth-pop hit in the 80's with Enola Gay. And if you don't know Enola Gay, you may know Electricity (In fact I happen to know some hardcore rock fans who claim they don't like synth-pop, but give it all on the dancefloor whe this song is played at parties). So, Marsheux were supporting OMD that day. Many years before that an OMD concert in Athens was cancelled, so I was determined I was not going to miss them this time. I arrived at the Lycabettus Theatre very early and the doors were still closed. As I was waiting outside I could hear the soundcheck. It was "Empire State Human",  originally by Human League with female vocals. "Who is singing Empire State Human now?" I thought. "In fact, Who remembers "Empire State Human" in the year 2007?" I wondered. "Marsheaux? Is that possible? We'll see"
I got inside when the doors opene and I went and sat at the back. I was not in a very good mood anyway. At some point Marsheaux came up on stage. They started with some downtempo songs of their own.

And suddenly, when the next song started, I heard a synth riff that reminded me of something. What dit it remind me of? "The Promise" by When In Rome. And Marsheaux have covered that? Now? So did that mean that there were other people in Greece who remembered it? That helped my mood to start picking up, but still I could not imagine what would happen next. I heard another synth riff that reminded me of something. What? "Pure" by The Lightning Seeds! So it was Marsheaux who covered it and it was used on that TV spot! At that point I could not hold myself any longer, I got up from my seat, ran down the theatre stairs and went and stood at the first row to enjoy the rest of the concert from there.

And of course I heard "Empire State Human" and "Pop Corn" (an instrumental you must all have heard somewhere) and I started to notice their own tracks that I liked such as "I Dream Of A Disco". So, I finally found out what kind of music Marsheaux played: synth-pop. I went to see OMD and instead I discovered Marsheaux!
The next day I logged on to the internet to learn more about them and to order their CD's.  (their first, "E-Bay Queen" and their second "Peek-A-Boo" which had come out some time before). I ordered them and waited for them to arrive so that I could rip them onto my MP3 player and listen to them during my summer holidays. Of course, thanks to the Greek Postal Service, they arrived after I had come back from my holidays, but there you go.

Just a bit after new year's day 2008, I learned that they started their own (now defunct) internet forum. Through it I found that there were Marsheaux fans all over the world. From Scotland, England, Sweden, Germany, France, even USA - there was a fan from Tampa, Florida, where I used to work in the year 2000!) . And I think I was the only Greek in there! From that forum I also learned that there was still a synth pop scene and about new bands like Parralox, Little Boots and La Roux. And in order for you to get an idea of how well known Marsheaux are outside Greece I will tell you this: When some friends of mine had gone to  Barcelona for a Bruce Springsteen concert in 2008, they sat in a fast-food restaurant to eat and suddenly Marsheaux started blasting through the speakers! And Recently, I found out that there are also fans in Peru.
Around that time when the forum was started, they announced the release of a vinyl-only 7" single "Ghost" (the cover of which glows in the dark!
My second Marsheaux gig was a free one during an event called "Athens Digital Week" on October 18 2008. A little while after that they supported  Roisin Murphy when she played in Athens (but I was abroad)

In 2009 they released their 3rd album, "Lumineux Noir", which contained no cover versions. A very smart move, because otherwise they might have been accused that their success was based on their covers, meaning songs that people are already familiar with. I'll admit it myself that my interest was sparked with their "Pure" and "Promise" covers, but I became a fan when I heard their own songs like "I Dream Of A Disco", "Computer Love", and "Summer" among others. Therefore "Lumineux Noir" stands on its own merit and with no outside help. And according to many fans (myself included), it's their best album ever.

In November 2009 they played an important gig at London club La Scala with Mikro. That was surely a major feat for two Greek Bands. They have since played London again at Ballyhoo club as part of The Electricity Club's TEC002 with Fotonovela (Nick and George, their producers and additional live musicians)
And now we come to my third Marsheaux gig. On July 6 2011 in Athens, they supported 30 Seconds To Mars, and it was Jared Leto himself who asked for them to play.

I don't have a complete file of their gigs, but I suspect that this is the biggest audience they ever played in Greece (They have however performed on big festivals abroad, like Exit in Serbia). It was the first time I heard songs from their 3rd album live (I also heard "Can You Stop Me" which would end up on their 4th) and I was probably the only person who bought a Front-Of-Stage ticket to see the support band from up close (I also saw 30 Seconds To Mars from the FOS section, but from further back).
Since then they have released a 4th album ("Inhale", also out on vinyl in different colours from Canadian label Storming The Base), a rarities album ("E-Bay Queen Is Dead") and a best of compilation ("Odyssey" from Les Disques Du Crepuscule label).

And this brings us to my 4th Marsheaux gig, last February at the Death Disco club in Athens. Apparently this was their first own gig in Greece where they did not share the bill with other bands)
01. Sorrow (Intro)
02. Self Control (Intro)
03. Exit
04. To The End
05. Hanging On
06. Summer
07. Can You Stop Me?
08. Dream Of A Disco
09. Come On Now
10. Radial Emotion
11. Empire State Human
12. Computer Love
13. Secret Place
14. Alone
15. Tonight
16. Breakthrough
17. Popcorn
18. Inhale
19. So Far
20. Promise
21. Dream Of A Disco
Encore 2:
22. Inhale

But it seems they were keen on spoiling us this year, because two weeks after that I went to my 5th gig at the Saristra In Athens festival!
Finally, apart from their live gigs, another important Marsheaux experience are their dj sets where you can literally dance your asses off. I have been to three so far: At Gazaki Club in 2011... Sodade 2 club in 2012...

...and at the same club earlier this year one month before their gigs
And, as a bonus this year, this was preceded by a Fotonovela dj set at Horostasion club in January!
More about Marsheaux:
"It's not 80's, it's synth-pop"