Thursday, 30 October 2014

One (festival) for the road

On June 21st I was flying to Rome to see The Rolling Stones. En Lefko Festival was announced in Athens for that very same weekend, the 20th and the 21st featuring among others The Simple Minds, who I would like to see (again). I was lucky because they were chosen as headliners on Friday which meant that I could go see them and catch my flight the next day. I was even luckier because the other band that I wanted to see, Hooverphonic were billed to play just before them.
So, I arrived at Technopolis, just as Hooverphonic were beginning their set, and after some problems with my ticket (which looked more like a receipt) I got in.
(Apparently, the scanner could not read the barcode, but that's to be expected when they print the tickets on cash till paper where the ink gradually fades away - duh!)
Hooverphonic first came to my attention around 2002-2003 with "Sometimes" and continued later on with the "More Sweet Music / No More Sweet Music" package. For most Greeks they are famous for "Mad About You" though.

They played songs from the whole of their career, and they did play "Sometimes". The last song in an acoustic version.
Now, it was June, the beginning of summer and my last gig was surprisingly at an indoor venue. This one was outdoors, but, after the Hooverphonic set was over, it started raining.

We took shelter away from the stage and started worrying if this was going to affect the Simple Minds set which we were all waiting for, but thankfully it stopped just before they came onstage. (And yes, the first thing Jim Kerr said to us when he appeared was "show me your hands". Typical.)

I had seen them before, again in Athens back in 2006. This time there was more of their early stuff ("Love Song", "I Travel"), stuff that they had disowned when they became famous ("Don't listen to our early albums" Jim Kerr apparently said to Chrissie Hynde, his wife at the time). Suprisingly enough it was these "early" albums that they were promoting a few years ago on their 5x5 tour.
But the problem was that there was also quite a few of their later stuff when just as they became famous they decided to go "epic" ("See The Lights", "She's A River").

But of course there was also stuff from when they were famous AND making great pop songs ("Don't You Forget About Me", "Alive & Kicking", "Sanctify Yourself").

And they saved the best for last: my favourite, "New Gold Dream", a song that should have been a single but it wasn't and was my favourite song in late 1982 / early 1983.
So that was the last song of the second and last encore. We were now ready to go home (and in my case to the airport). But then it started raining again. Hard.

We took cover for quite a while, even visited the dance stage which was indoors.

Finally it stopped. Thankfully, because the next day was going to be a long one...
Simple Minds setlist:

        01. Waterfront
        02. Broken Glass Park
        03. Love Song
        04. Hypnotised
        05. Imagination
        06. I Travel
        07. Blindfolded
        08. Dancing Barefoot
              (Patti Smith Group cover)
        09. Dolphins
        10. She's a River
        11. Someone Somewhere in Summertime
        12. See the Lights
        13. Don't You (Forget About Me)
        14. Big Music
        15. Alive and Kicking
        Encore 2:
        16. Sanctify Yourself
        17. New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84)

Monday, 20 October 2014

Like a blister in the summer sun (a.k.a. No more Pliatsikas)

I noticed the Violent Femmes with their debut album back in the early eighties. And I knew one person in my English class who was a fan. This was the time when we used to write the names of our favourite bands on our school bags. So while looking at his bag it seemed strange to me that among several mainstream pop bands of the era Violent Femmes were in there.
10 years passed and we were now in the early 90's. While frequenting a local bar, I noticed that every night the DJ was playing two particular tracks back-to-back. The first one had a very staccato drum beat at the end of each verse and the second one was saying something like "they do it all the time". I leaned over the vinyl turntable (yeah, DJ's were still using these in the early 90's) and noticed that they were the first two tracks from the Violent Femmes debut album. So I went and bought the... CD! And found out that these two songs were "Blister In The Sun" and "Kiss Off". And that there were other great tracks on that album (like "Add It Up" for example).
Next thing I realized, these songs became big hits in Greece. In the 90's! They were also played at the biggest "rock" club of that era "Camel". This even prompted a reaction from the lifestyle press ("NITRO" magazine) saying that "playing this music in a club brings it down to the lever of our high school holidays". Anyway, these 2 songs were now classics, 10 years after their release.
And more than 30 years after their release, last June, I finally got the chance to hear them live, by the Violent Femmes performing that first album in full in Athens. The gig was at a new indoor venue (Stage Volume 1), although summer was now fully upon us. 

The band came on stage, and after about 4 songs they blasted into "Blister In The Sun" and the rest of the album. 

But the fun was not over after that. More instruments were added:
Violin, saxophone...

...cretan lyra (played by G.Dagaki)...

...and bouzouki.

And to top it all off, Filippos Pliatsikas from the Greek band "Pyx Lax" came onstage (we should have seen this coming, he is very good friends with Gordon Gano) and together they played first a Pyx Lax song and then "Blister In The Sun" once more. 
On this last one Pliatsikas adapted the lyrics of the chorus in Greek, that was not a very popular group with the crowd though...