Thursday, 31 December 2015

Leon Of Athens @ Gazarte Reloaded

And so we're finally at the end of 2015 and our last gig was - almost - a repeat of an earlier one of this same year. I say "almost" because although it was the same artist and the same venue the situation was a bit different.
Leon Of Athens was back at Gazarte where we last saw him in back in April, but this time it was in a different hall of the venue. This time it was at the roof hall surrounded by glass giving us a very good view of Christmas Athens, including the Acropolis. 

And this time we were all close to the stage making it a more intimate experience. The setlist was based on the last gig, but there were also a couple of new songs. As far as I am concerned I was happy that he kept the Bruce Springsteen and Queen covers, (my favourite artist and band respectively), so once again we enjoyed covers of "I'm On Fire" and "Under Pressure" plus his own well-loved songs like "Global", "Lifeline", my personal favourite "Dreamers" and his latest single "Baby Asteroid"


It wasn't exactly Christmas eve, but Leon gave us our Christmas gig of 2015 and we are already making our plans for more music to come in 2016

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Sorrowful Angels present Remedie @ Remedy

I've been a fan of Sorrowful Angels for about 4 years now. I think it was at the time that their second album "Omens" came out. Oh, and I never got any of their CD's either. So, the "Remedie Live Album Presentation" at Remedy Club ("Remedie" is the title of their latest, third album) was a perfect opportunity. To begin with, the entrance fee was flexible and adaptable to my needs. 4 Euros on its own or 10 Euros with a t-shirt or a "Remedie" CD. So, of course I went for the CD option. And when I got inside and collected my CD, I noticed that the previous two albums were available for 5 euros each so I grabbed this chance to complete my Sorrowful Angels discography.

The only problem was that I knew beforehand that this was going to be an incomplete gig for me since I had to catch the last train in order to get back home without spending a small fortune. Nevertheless when I saw the detailed line-up I knew that I would be able to catch a respectable percentage of the Sorrowful Angels set even if there was a delay in the schedule (which there was).
First up were Dead South Dealers.

Next up were Material Vibe preparing us for the main course including Metallica and Slayer covers.

And finally it was time for Sorrowful Angels. What I had time to hear before I had to leave was good enough for me: Five songs from the new album (which was what we mostly came to hear wasn't it?), two from "Omens" and one from the "Summer Goths" EP (although I have to admit, the other song on that EP "Love Means Death" is my favourite one.)

I have to admit it got even better in my absence as I read in this great review (in Greek) of the gig from Former members Ilias Bouzeas and Chris Stratigos joined frontman Dion Christodoulatos on stage on some of the songs. And there were Iron Maiden covers! (They have performed as Paul Di Anno's backing band on part of his recent tour). Must have been a great party and I hope I will have a chance to see them again for a full set this time.


Dead South Dealers
01. Keep Em Coming
02. D.S.D
03. Note to Self
04. Vinnie the Vet
05. Fairies of the swamp
06. Wrong Cargo

Material Vibe
01. Voracious
02. Normality
03. Mandatory Suicide
04. Stagger's Leap
05. Climbing
06. Blinded by Fear (At the Gates)
07. Vital Venom
08. Reign with Fire
09. So What?

Sorrowful Angels
01. Witchhunt
02. Shatterbox
03. Immaculate disguise
04. Mistress of Desire
05. Circle Never Ends
06. Shores of Capture
07. Ghosts of Concrete
08. Dream in Black
09. Leap of Faith
10. Against The Dying of The Light
11. I'm Home
12. Suicidal Manners
13. Right of Way
14. Leaving Earth
15. Unspeakable Cult
16. Prowler
17. Running Free
18. Omens
19. Mourn
20. Denial

Friday, 25 December 2015

MOAN loves you @ six d.o.g.s.

I was so dumbfounded when I saw MOAN live for the first time back in May when they supported The Stranglers (where we met the singer's mother AND grandmother in the audience), that I knew I had to see them again. Their "Debut EP Release Show" at six d.o.g.s. in the beginning of October where their first EP "Breaking Bad" would be on sale was the perfect occasion.
Upon arriving there I caught a glimpse of them being interviewed in the next room for MTV Rise and I had the chance to watch it the following week. When watching it, I learned that one of their favourite songs is "I'm On Fire" by Bruce Springsteen. So, once again it was proven that Bruce is everywhere. And "I'm On Fire" is probably Bruce's favourite song among Greek artists!

After that short pause I headed straight in,  in order to secure a copy of the CD. My first thought was "15 Euros? That's a bit pricey!". And when I got the disc out and realized it was not a CD but a CD-R then I thought "It's definitely pricey!". However, when I got a better look at it the following morning under the light of day I changed my mind. If one takes a look at the whole packaging, what's featured in it, the amount of work that had to be done in order to create this, combined with the fact that only 150 copies were made I realized that it was probably worth it. (Hey, there'e even a lollipop attached to the front cover!) What's more the money will be going to a new band who had just offered me a free gig! I was not obligated to buy the CD. You can judge for yourselves in these photos. (And you can listen to and even download for free the whole EP here)

Back to the gig, it was opened by Smacking Lips which have a harder and more raw sound that MOAN. On MTV Rise I heard that they too are preparing their first album so we'll probably have a chance to hear more of them in the future.

Then it was time for MOAN, and their set started in exactly the same way as their Stranglers support set. Opening with "Trapped Between Her Hips" (my favourite) followed by "Remember That Night". After that it was of course a different story since this was their own gig and they had all the time to themselves to play a full set.

With that, I headed home to enjoy (and examine) my new CD hoping that they will release a full album soon. With MOAN we are confident that we will hear more of them in the future. And as they themselves say, MOAN loves us. MOAN loves you. That means you!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Rockwave 20 Part 3 - Manu Chao La Ventura

Manu Chao is one of those artists that regurarly plays in Greece. As usual,  I had never been to one of his gigs despite the numerous chances I'd been given. So, while still recovering from my trip to Italy for Belle And Sebastian, I decided that this time I was not going to miss him. And so it was that on what was probably one of the hottest days of the summer in Athens, I went to a Rockwave Festival date for a third time in the same year! (There was a fourth date with Judas Priest and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club but I was busy getting ready for Italy then).
So, back to Terra Vibe and since it was Manu Chao who was headlining, one could be sure of two things:
1. The ticket would be (relatively) cheap. In fact Manu Chao himself insists that ticket prices to his gigs are low.
2. The line-up would be geared towards ethnic sounds. In fact the sounds on that night ranged from the Balkans all the way to Jamaica!
I arrived early in order to avoid the big crowds that usually gather at Manu Chao Greek gigs. Too tired from last week's trip I would have to find a place to sit down. And I did, in the area which in other concerts is designated as "VIP", where not only did I get to sit on a bench, but I also had a table, where I could leave my drinks and stuff. Plus, and most important of all, I had shade! Of course there are no VIP tickets at a Manu Chao show, so this particular area was open to everyone, all for the price of the regular ticket!

The first appearance of the day was not a live act but a DJ set. DJ Spery, according to the Rockwave Festival official site, has been, for the last 5 years, organizing parties aiming to bring the "Balkanization Project" to life. This entails spreading the Balkan sounds from town to town. She discovered how lively this music is at a Goran Bregovic gig and she's been collecting records from the best Balkan bands ever since.

Next up, were Les SkartOi, which, if you look closely at their name was the band with the Jamaican sounds of the day. So, Ska it is then, and they even treated us to a medley of classic ska songs like "Rat Race" made famous by the Specials and "Night Boat To Cairo" made famous by Madness.

Fundracar who came up next bring us home to more traditional and Greek sounds but also hip-hop.
With Baildsa, second on the bill, it's back to Balkan sounds and this band have actually played live in most Balkan countries.
And finally, it's time for Manu Chao. He played all his well-known songs, in radically altered versions as usual, sometimes more than once. There was a 12 minute version of "La Primavera" thrown in the mix, plus, more importantly, from his Mano Negra days, "King Kong Five", the song with which I got to know him, way back in 1989.

There was not just one, but two encores, finally ending with "Mala Vida", a song we got to hear on another encore, last Christmas, courtesy of Nouvelle Vague.
And so ended my last visit to Terra Vibe this year, and my last gig of the summer. Now it was time to really rest and enjoy the rest of the summer holiday, ending up in Antiparos as usual...

01. Mr Bobby
02. Se fuerza la máquina / Día luna... día pena / Tadibobeira
03. La vida tómbola
04. La primavera
05. Les rues de l'hiver...
06. Clandestino
07. Promiscuity
08. Mi vida
09. King Kong Five
10. Politik Kills
11. Machine Gun
12. Bienvenida a Tijuana
13. El viento
14. Fuera Monsanto (Perro Verde)
15. Minha galera
Encore 2:
16. Desaparecido / Lagrimas de oro
17. Clandestino / Rumba de Barcelona / La despedida / Mentira
18. Mala vida

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Greeks In Debt Crisis Want To Dance

It was a strange journey we embarked upon on the morning of the 11th of July this year. With Greece technically bankrupt, the banks closed, credit cards blocked abroad, we were at least able to begin our trip because we had already paid for most of it beforehand. We had paid for our plane, train and concert tickets by credit card months before. Our accommodation was booked using credit cards to secure them - some of them with a deposit - but not fully paid. Thankfully there was no attempt from our hotels to withdraw money from our credit cards (which wouldn't have worked) so we were able to pay them cash when we got there. Plus, we had enough cash on us for our expenses.
Now Greece (and to be more precise, the city of Patras) is connected directly to Ancona by ferry. However, our journey as we planned it, (plane to Rome, train to Ancona and then back the same way) was cheaper (Italian Train tickets can be especially cheap if booked in advance). Plus, it made for a more interesting trip because it included two nights stay in Rome. However, our small vacation is going to be discussed in another post, here I am going to concentrate on the Belle And Sebastian concert.
But how were Belle And Sebastian chosen as this year's summer concert abroad? First of all, my usual check of all the summer concerts in Italy did not produce anything interesting (well, interesting enough to make a trip worthwhile anyway). And then I remembered that the best album of the year so far for me was "Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance" (I had actually written a review of it in this very blog here), which I suspected (and now that we are in December I can actually confirm) that it was going to be my choice for best album of 2015. So, if they had an album out they should be going on tour, right? Right, but their European tour was scheduled for November if I am not mistaken. Thankfully, they had planned two outdoor dates in Italy for the summer (presumably because their frontman Stuart Murdoch's wife is Italian and he spends a lot of time in the country?) Anyway, the first one was in Ancona and the second one was the following day in Sesto Al Reghena). We were lucky that we chose to go to Italy because November's European tour was eventually cancelled due to Stuart's illness. We were at first interested in the second date at Sesto Al Reghena for which we were going to fly to Milano instead of Rome, but my research showed that it would be very difficult getting there, especially as there seemed to be no train connection). So, we finally settled for Ancona and we did not regret it. Our hotel was directly opposite the train station and the venue was within walking distance from our hotel. Plus, the venue itself, judging from the first photos of it we found on the internet, seemed quite remarkable. A castle in the water!  And that's indeed what it more or less was.
Mole Vanvitelliana, also called the Lazzaretto Of Ancona, is an 18th century building constructed on an artificial island for the purpose of serving as quarantine station and Leprosarium for the town. Now it is used as a site of the museum Tattile Omero, as well as home for various exhibitions. When we arrived in Ancona we immediately went for a walk to check it out.

It was too early, no preparations were made for the concert on the outside, but we sneaked in and managed to find the exact space in the building where the concert was going to take place. We saw the stage and spotted Stuart Murdoch at the side of it.
We went back to our hotel and returned later at a time which was much closer to the one the concert was about to start. We looked around at an exhibition that was taking place and at some point my girlfriend went in search of the restrooms.

Well, what do you know, a few minutes later, she came back with a photo of her and Stuart Murdoch on her iPad! By that time preparations for the concert had started and we went around the building to the place we would all enter from. Not a lot of people were gathered there at the time so, we thought we had a good chance of a front row seat. And suddenly Stuart appeared again, signing our tickets and our special "Greeks In Debt Crisis Want To Dance" banner that we had prepared beforehand. And he posed for photos with us and the Greek flag! After that Stuart left the venue, presumably to go back to his hotel, on foot!

It wasn't a long time after that that we were allowed in and we rushed and of course got our front row seats. The concert would take place at the building's courtyard, but in a corner of it. On another corner were the merchandise stands and a canteen serving food that was cooked on the spot. Plus there were also tables to sit and eat.

While I was waiting at the food queue for something to eat (and a beer of course), the first act, Italian singer Maria Antonietta with just her guitar came on. A short but very nice acoustic set from a very good singer (since then I have discovered several of her videos on YouTube).

The biggest surprise came up next. Matinée are an Italian indie band based in East London. Chris Geddes from Belle And Sebastian described them as "anthemic indie rock with electronic flourishes". They were named after Franz Ferdinand's hit song. Their set was so good that I rushed back to the merchandise stand and bought their CD "These Days"

After a short break the lights went off and Belle And Sebastian came up on stage starting with "Nobody's Empire". The problem was that the lights stayed off so we were listening to the band in darkness until they finally came on 1 minute and a half into the song. 

Then, after "I'm A Cuckoo", they went back to "Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance" with "The Party Line". 

In fact they played 5 songs off their latest album ("Nobody's Empire", "The Party Line", "Perfect Couples", "The Power Of Three" and "Allie") and I certainly am not going to complain about that since, as I have already mentioned it is my favourite album of the year. 
Needless to say, we soon abandoned our seats and went to stand at the front of the stage! At some point between songs Stuart asked "Where are you people from? Is there anybody here from Ancona? Because I've been meeting people all day, and they're all from different Italian cities...". Some people answered "Milano", others "Rome", "Florence" and so on at which point we raised our flag and shouted loudly "Greece". Suddenly we heard a huge roar of applause behind us. The crowd was cheering at us, aware of the situation back home. 

Later at another break between songs Stuart said "You know what I think we should do now? We should take one of these boats that are out there on the port and go to Greece to play a free concert for the people there" which brought another huge roar of applause not just from us but from everybody. Nice thought Stuart, but I don't think any Greek promoters would be bothered about something like that.

And the concert went on with highlights being the attempt to recreate the video for "Jonathan David" which did not go exactly as planned, inviting people to come up on stage to dance on "The Boy With The Arab Strap" and finally, at the end, "The State I Am In" from their first album.

And that was it for our best concert of the year at a wonderful location. After grabbing a copy of the setlist from the stage, we slowly started walking back with the Italian friends we met there for a bite to eat and a drink before going back to our hotels.

Get well soon, Stuart...