Thursday, 23 April 2015

Getting to see the Canadian Bruce live!

That's what we used to call Bryan Adams 30 years ago. His 1984 album "Reckless" was a big hit throughout 1985, as was "Born In The USA". So, after having seen Bruce Springsteen live 11 times so far, I wanted to see Bryan Adams as well. Last year Bryan decided to tour the album for its 30th anniversary playing it in full at each gig. So I accepted the invitation of a fellow Greek blogger who currently lives in Statford-Upon-Avon in the UK, a distance of  2835km away from his hometown to see him together.
So, after arriving overnight at Gatwick airport last November, I spent the day around London (picking up a copy of the 30th anniversary edition of "Reckless" at FOPP - all the other major record stores in London have now closed), I took the evening train to Stratford-Upon-Avon.

The next morning was spent sightseeing around Shakespeare's hometown. In a future post I hope to report on everything I've seen and been up to, both in London and Stratford, but here I am going to focus on the concert.
We drove from Stratford-Upon-Avon to Birmingham International Airport which is supposed to be a one-hour journey. I could of course complain a little about the traffic, but then again it could be worse. And after a small confusion about finding our way into the correct parking building, we were on our way, on foot to the Birmingham NEC (or LG Arena as it's now known - I should know, because the last time I was there it was back in 1991).

After the customary t-shirt and beer purchases the concert started. We were just in time! And it started with the title track from "Reckless" which funnily enough was NOT included on the album! Bryan explained this was due to the limited space on vinyl records (CD's did exist in 1984 but only in limited quantities and the players were enormously expensive). So, several tracks had to be left out and "Reckless" was one of them. All these tracks though are now featured in the anniversary edition. Following the title track the whole of the original album was played. At first he seemed to be following the original running order with "One Night Love Affair" and "She's Only Happy When She's Dancin'" but then he shuffled songs around a bit, most notably leaving "Summer Of '69" for the end of this section, even after "Ain't Gonna Cry" (the last song on the album "the song on the album that nobody liked"). 

Contrary to what many people believe he has recorded several other albums before and after "Reckless" and we were treated to a selection of songs from these leading up to his latest covers album "The Tracks Of My Years". In my own humble opinion the ones after "Waking Up The Neighbours" are not his strongest ones, still they brought back memories, as we listened to them once again on the night,  including of course the "mega-hit" "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" - 16 weeks at number 1 back in 1991. He played for more than 2 hours (we Springsteen fans tend to track the duration of every other concert we attend), including a generous encore culminating with "All For Love". Oh and he even asked a girl from the crowd to dance with him! From a distance, since she was somewhere in the back rows.

Satisfied, we made our way back to Stratford-Upon-Avon where there was more sightseeing for me the next day followed by the train journey back to London and the flight back to Athens.
I'd like to thank my bloodbrother Petros without who this journey would not have been possible. If you're a Greek speaker you can read his own review on his blog.                  

2835km Review:
Bryan Adams at LG Arena, Birmingham review


01. Reckless
02. One Night Love Affair
03. She's Only Happy When She's Dancin'
04. Run To You
05. Heaven
06. Kids Wanna Rock
07. It's Only Love
08. Long Gone
09. Somebody
10. Ain't Gonna Cry
11. Summer Of '69
12. Let Me Down Easy (acoustic)
13. (Everything I Do) I Do It for You
14. If Ya Wanna Be Bad Ya Gotta Be Good
15. Cuts Like a Knife
16. Can't Stop This Thing We Started
17. Please Forgive Me
18. When You're Gone
19. 18 Til I Die
20. Cloud #9
21. The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You

22. You've Been a Friend to Me
23. C'mon Everybody (Eddie Cochran cover)
24. She Knows Me (acoustic)
25. Straight from the Heart (acoustic)
26. All for Love (acoustic)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The next big thing - A hope for the future (islands)

It was my girlfriend who urged me to go and see Future Islands live (when the day came though she couldn't join me). And by doing a little research on the internet I realized it was a case of "the next big thing", a "hope for the future" playing in Greece live. They have actually played here in the past, but after their appearance on Letterman and their "Seasons" hit they are probably a case of "the current big thing happening now". And, as I have mentioned before the conspiracy theory of bands not playing in Greece when they're in their prime, but only when they're old or down on their luck and not successful anymore, this gig was probably a rare occasion. I mean, if the conspiracy theorists are right, we'll probably never see them live again (until a probable "reunion" tour in the future).
Support duties were performed by Mechanimal, a Greek band of which I think I cauight a glimpse at a festival last year. This time, with a chance to witness, if not a full, at least a support set, I was pleasantly surprised.

The biggest surpise of the night were of course Future Islands themselves. There are 3 things one immediately notices about them:

1. They are liked and respected by both electronica fans AND ther "real music brigade". They use both electronic and "real" instruments in such doses so that they keep both camps happy,
2. The lead singer's theatrics on stage, particurarly his dance routines and his pumping his chest with his fist.
3. The way he suddenly changes his voice to a "thrash metal" style one (I don't know how else to describe it).

Now, while I admire them for all of the above 3 reasons (because it is exciting to see something different) it is number 2 mostly that apart from fans has given them several enemies. I am not going to mention what has been said about them in general, I am just going to focus on the Greek music scene. On one review I read on the internet just after the gig, the reviewer was asking members of Greek bands what they thought of Future Islands and more specifically of their singer. Most comments were negative making him to be a sort of a charlatan. The Greek word "karagiozis" was mostly used ("karagioz" is the Turkish word), so I guess that our Greek and Turkish readers will get a better idea of what I'm talking about. So, you're in a band, which probably no one has heard of outside your own country and you think Future Islands are "charlatans". How very mature! And, as if that wasn't enough, one of these people accused him of "looking like a waiter"! Nice attitude pal, I would never wish to eat in the same restaurant as you, I would not like to see how you treat the waiters serving you. I mean, what does a waiter look like? Can somebody explain that to me? Just remember kids that the waiter is someone who can spit or piss in your food if he is mistreated (Read "Fight Club" if you don't believe me). Just saying...

Enough of that though, the important thing is that the people who actually paid a ticket to be there were the ones who enjoyed the gig and knew what to expect. And "Seasons (Waiting For You)" was what several of them were expecting. 

And Future Islands did not disappoint. I wish them better things and greater success for the future. After all haters are going to hate no matter what...
01. Song to the sirens
02. Freezer
03. Obscure
04. Secret Science
05. Kindergarten
06. The Den
07. Ghost

Future Islands:
01. Give Us the Wind
02. Back in the Tall Grass
03. A Dream of You and Me
04. Walking Through That Door
05. Balance
06. Before the Bridge
07. Doves
08. Heart Grows Old
09. A Song for Our Grandfathers
10. Light House
11. Seasons (Waiting on You)
12. Tin Man
13. Long Flight
14. Spirit
15. Fall from Grace
16. Inch of Dust
17. Vireo's Eye