Monday, 31 October 2016

Jethro Tull @ Terra Vibe quite a few years ago

I remember Jethro Tull since I was a kid. A little kid. Even before I started reading POP + ROCK (a Greek music magazine). I had seen pictures of the covers of their Heavy Horses, Aqualung and Thick As A Brick albums on the inner sleave of Saturday Night Fever (well, you do have to start your music listening lifetime experience from somewhere) where Phonogram (later Polygram and now Universal) used to advertise its other releases.

There were considered one of the pioneers of progressive rock, a genre all Greek "serious" rockers used to listen to during the seventies even though the band themselves claim that only one of their albums can be classified as prog. On the other hand we had the Greek disco listeners (called "kareklades" by the rockers) and the punks.
Of course  Jethro Tull had a peculiarity! Their frontman and singer, Ian Anderson, played the flute! And a phenomenally unusual instrument in a rock group always clicked with the Greek music listeners. (East German band City with their violin and Street Boys with their accordion and their Some Folks hit come to mind)

There weren't a lot of people at Terra Vibe, and combined with the fact that the music of Jethro Tull is not suited to dancing, made the organizers bring the stage higher up and the VIP section consisted of theatre-like seats. Even in the standing section where I was there was good visibility. The concert was very good with Ian Anderson often playing his flute in his characteristic posture (with one leg lifted) as well as all their songs that are popular in Greece (Thick As A Brick, Aqualung, Locomotive Breath)

Of course this was not the first time they had come to Greece. I remember a few years back they had played the Lycabettus theatre and I did not go, so this was a great chance to finally see them.

01. Nothing Is Easy
02. Beggar's Farm
03. Life Is A Long Song
04. Serenade To A Cuckoo (Rahsaan Roland Kirk cover)
05. A New Day Yesterday
06. Back To The Family
07. Thick as a Brick
08. Hare In The Wine Cup
09. A Change Of Horses
10. Cross-Eyed Mary
11. Farm on the Freeway
12. Dharma For One
13. My God
14. Aqualung
15. Locomotive Breath

Sunday, 30 October 2016

The best of Jethro Tull performed by Ian Anderson

Six years after seeing Jethro Tull live I had the chance of seeing Ian Anderson again, this time as a solo artist, accompanied by session musicians, but mostly playing the band's songs, as the event's title "The Best Of Jethro Tull Performed By Ian Anderson" informed us. I had been to another gig the night before, but I was adamant I was also going to go to this one. You see, when I saw him with Jethro Tull at Terra Vibe I went because I had wanted for years to see "that band featuring the only frontman in rock whose trademark instrument was the flute". But, more importantly, on that day 6 years ago, a certain period of my personal life was ending. In the autumn of this year however, a new period was just beginning. So, I thought, what better way was there to welcome this new era in the same way I had said goodbye to that old one: With Ian Anderson and the music of Jethro Tull!
As I entered Technopolis, the first thing that caught my attention was the restaurant high up in the air that has become a semi-permanent feature there in the last few years.

I then went in search of my seat. Yes, there were also seats this time around, so I chose a seating ticket and I've read elsewhere that the artist himself requested them. It is also possible that it was he who requested that photographs and videos were not allowed. I remember back in Terra Vibe how relieved he was when the photographers had finished taking photos and had moved away from the front of the stage. 

This is the reason why there is a lot to be desired concerning the quality of the videos featured here and that's why I decided to make a video of my audio recording of "Think As A Brick" superimposed with a photo of Ian in his classic posture. 
That rule was not strictly enforced but instead politely requested by the event personnel. There was only one incident of a person being removed from the venue but that was not because he was taking photographs (he was), but due to the fact that he was not just rude, but downright insulting to the people working there that night. Aside from that, the average age of the people in the audience was relatively high to put it mildly, but that is something that is probably expected of Jethro Tull fans.
The structure of the setlist was quite similar to the one in Terra Vibe ("Nothing Is Easy" at the beginning, "Thick As A Brick" relatively early in it, "Aqualung" and "Locomotive Breath" at the end. 
All this featuring stories (with strong English undertones) ranging from the 70's all the way back to the era of Henry VIII. In fact they even played a song fron that era. There were even some new songs played. I particurarly enjoyed "Banker Bets, Banker Wins" from "Thick As A Brick II" but I wasn't too keen on "Fruits On Frankenfield" (as far as music was concerned, because its lyrical content was particurarly interesting and valid in the world we currently live in)
As the concert was ending with "Aqualung" I decided to ignore the "no photos and videos" rule. 
By then nobody really minded. Especially during the encore with "Locomotive Breath" when that rule was completely forgotten, people were off their seats taking photos and videos and even some headbanging took place! And Ian didn't seem to mind.
The show was over before 11 with some Benny Hill music coming out of the speakers.

A friend of mine who was at the concert with me, told me that seeing Jethro Tull, or at least Ian Anderson was something that was on her bucket list. For me it was an experience that had already been fulfilled once, but did not mind dipping into it a second time as an added bonus...

01. Living In The Past
02. Nothing Is Easy
03. Thick As A Brick
04. Pastime With Good Company
05. Sweet Dream
06. Mother Goose
07. Bouree
08. Banker Bets, Banker Wins
09. Songs From The Wood
10. Fruits Of Frankenfield
11. Dharma For One
12. Farm On The Freeway
13. My God
14. Aqualung
15. Locomotive Breath

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Saint Etienne presents ''Foxbase Athens''

Saint Etienne were back in Athens in little more than a year and a half after their last visit. Back then they presented us with the soundtrack to a movie which got some people bored and maybe that was the reason why this time Gagarin 205 Live Music Space was not full when they played their "Foxbase Alpha" album, which is 25 years old this year, in its entirety.

Support was provided by Etten, the former singer of Film and current singer of Mechanimal.

When Saint Etienne came on stage they launched into a compete performance of "Foxbase Alpha". (And I managed to catch one of the pieces of candy Sarah threw into the audience). 

After the full album performance though there was more time left for hits this time. I was very happy to see that they played "You're In A Bad Way" again.
Hearing this song live brings back memories of an incident at their 1999 Athens gig when somebody in the crowd shouted "Sarah! You're In A Bad Way!" to which Sarah promptly replied "Thank You!". Needless to say, the song wasn't played then.

Finally "Hobart Paving" provided the perfect ending to a perfect gig... 
No wait! That was not the end! The final song was "He's On The Phone" with everybody dancing. Yes!...
Foxbase Alpha:
01. This Is Radio Etienne
02. Only Love Can Break Your Heart
03. Wilson
04. Carnt Sleep
05. Girl VII
06. Spring
07. She's the One
08. Stoned to Say the Least
09. Nothing Can Stop Us
10. Etienne Gonna Die
11. London Belongs to Me
12. Like the Swallow
13. Dilworth's Theme
14. Join Our Club
15. Who Do You Think You Are
16. Filthy
17. Sylvie
18. You're in a Bad Way
19. Tonight
20. Hobart Paving
21. He's on the Phone

Monday, 24 October 2016

Duran Duran live in Athens on election day (but they didn't play it)

It was 10 years ago when I saw Duran Duran live for the second time. The first one had been back in 1989 during the Big Thing tour in London at the first ever concert at the then newly built London Arena in the Docklands. That concert had been filmed and it was expected to be released on videotape, but as far as I could find out it never saw the light of day. If anyone knows what happened to it, please inform me. Anyway, by 2004 the band had gone back to its original line-up and a gig in Athens was announced in the summer of 2005. I didn't go then but I was wondering who was going to go. The reason was that back in the 80's one could not admit that they were a Duran Duran fan in Greece because the rock fans would hurl abuse at them. So I never met any fans back then. But suddenly the 2005 gig presale was such a success that it had to be moved to a bigger venue (the well-known "Terra Vibe", one of the reasons that I could not go). And the gig itself was a huge success and during the next few days, ordinary fans and TV personas alike were talking about how they enjoyed it and how Duran Duran reminded them of their youth of which they were a big part back in the day. And all I wanted to ask them was this: "Where were you in the 80's when I was afraid to even admit that I was listening to Duran Duran?". Needless to say, I regretted not going, but thankfully the next year they were back in Athens to play an indoor gig at one of the 2004 Olympic venues. That particular day was the 2nd round of the local (municipal) elections in Greece. I was determined not to miss them this time. So after voting, somewhere in the city centre, I had to travel all the way to the southeastern suburbs of the city to get to the venue which was at the site of the old airport. Thankfully, thanks to the Olympics, by that time we had a tram service that made getting there easier.
There were two types of tickets for this gig both of them standing only, Pitch A and Pitch B. I thought, what the heck I should buy a Pitch A one for which I paid about 80 euros if I remember correctly, and as a second thought, since I was going to be near the stage I decided to bring my relatively new then Sony digital camera and that's the reason this post came about 10 years after the event when I decided to delve deep into my hard disks and look for the photos and videos from that day. I had already used that camera at the Shakira gig three months before, but in that one I was far from the stage in the stands. This time however, it was going to be put to good use.

What I didn't realize on the day was that this was one of the first gigs without Andy Taylor who had decided to leave the band (again!). I was so preoccupied with singing along that I didn't notice. In fact, at some point I started wondering if it really was possible for them to sound like they did all those years ago.
Surely, this couldn't be a playback, could it? Of course it couldn't as I realized after watching Simon closely for a few minutes not just singing but also talking to the audience. And 10 years later I still remember the highlight of the evening... "The Chauffeur"...
20 years after the 80's Duran Duran had finally become fashionable in Greece!

01. Hungry Like The Wolf
02. Union Of The Snake
03. Serious / Nice
04. Is There Something I Should Know
05. Come Undone
06. What Happens Tomorrow
07. Hold Back The Rain
08. Some Like It Hot / My Own Way
09. The Reflex
10. The Chauffeur
11. Ordinary World
12. Save A Prayer
13. A View To A Kill
14. Electric Barbarella
15. Notorious
16. (Reach Up For The) Sunrise
17. Rio
18. Girls On Film
19. Wild Boys

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Big Nose Attack 5 year anniversary party with special guests on stage

After their appearance at Gagarin in January as a headline act, I thought I wouldn't need to see The Big Nose Attack again this year. I mean, what could possibly top that? The answer is of course "coming home". Where home is An Club for their 5 year anniversary party. This was obviously not going to be a usual BNA gig. The first set could be described as a typical Big Nose Attack short(ish) set.

We could have been happy with just that. But no, when it was finished they blew the candles on their birthday cake (which wasn't a cake, but a pizza) and then played a second set with a different guest each time for at least two more hours.
There was everything in this mix: a drum machine, a synthesizer, a theremin, a bouzouki and even - shock horror!!! - a BASS! Yes, a bass!

Plus, an amazing cover of the Stones' "Honky Tonk Women"!

The whole gig lasted for more than 3 hours. Only Bruce Springsteen could do such a thing...
I got back home early the next morning very hungry,

so I took of my Big Nose Attack t-shirt and had some... pizza! What else?

SETLIST 1 (The Big Nose Attack)
01. A Bite To Eat02. All By Myself
03. Under Your Spell
04. Monday Morning Spaghetti
05. Fifty Shades Of Shame
06. Dirty Emma
07. Not The One
08. I Gotta Luv U
09. Adam And Eve
10. Left Alone
11. Drunk And Gibberish
12. Drunk Whore Blues

SETLIST 2 (The Big Nose Attack featuring special guests)
01. Let Me Tell Ya featuring Yiannis Biliris (Μεθυσμένα Ξωτικά)
02. The Black Hat Man featuring Konstantinos Kirtsis (The Wrinkled Suits) and Rsn
03. All The Time featuring Petros Kasimatis (ΠΡΟΦΙΛ)
04. Yeah! (That Girl) featuring Babis Papanikolaou (Planet Of Zeus) and Idra Kayne
05. Hey Joe featuring Thymios Spiliotopoulos (Mr. Highway Band)
06. Let Τhe Love Shine featuring Alexis Kalofolias (The Last Drive)
07. Don't Look Back featuring Panos Tsekouras (Mani Deum)
08. Holdin' On featuring Panos Tsekouras and Babis Mavridis (Black Hat Bones)
09. N.I.B. featuring Konstantinos Dreankcrocs (Mock Τhe Mankind) and Vassilis Magganas (SuperPuma)
10. Wild Cherry featuring Dani G. (1000mods)
11. Honky Tonk Women featuring Mickey Pantelous
12. Down With Me featuring Mickey Pantelous
13. Kick Out The Jams featuring Aggelos Panokas (Black Hat Bones)
14. Blues Jam featuring Stam (The Bad Slide Stam)

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Leon of Athens in the open air

When Leon of Athens plays near your home you can't miss the opportunity... Especially if it's a free gig!
This is exactly what happened last month in Kifissia. It was my 3rd Leon Of Athens gig, but my first in the open. The place? Villa Kazouli in Kifissia. When I first moved near the area, more than 30 years ago, the place was a derelict and abandoned building. Thankfully, at some point it was restored and put to good use by the local council. And it was indeed the first time that I visited it.

While wandering outside the place, trying to find the entrance, I disovered that the doors were still closed, I managed however to catch a glimpse of Leon's final rehearsal playing a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound Of Silence".
This was indeed the song with which he opened his set, after an introduction by the organizer.

All the usual favourites were in the set, including "I'm On Fire", "Under Pressure", "Over The Rainbow" and "Baby Asteroid". 
Plus a very nice song about his island, "Corfu", which I had seen on YouTube before, but with a different arrangement. 
But it was a completely different experience listening to all of these on a summer night under the stars and a full moon!

Not everybody was amused though. You see this gig was part of a summer-long festival organized by the local council.

And some of the locals, mostly old age pensioners attend every gig mostly of Greek stars of the 60's and the 70's. It wasn't surprising though that some of them started shouting, in the middle of a song "don't you speak any Greek?" "I don't like this!". The organizer, who was sitting directly in front of me was trying to explain that it is clearly stated in the programme that Leon sings mainly in English, but to no avail. And he did sing a song in Greek but by then they were not paying any attention so nobody noticed it.

Aside from that, it was a great gig with an encore, the highlight of which was when Leon sang a song about a childhood friend of his and spotted her mother in the audience.
But most importantly, after the gig I had the chance to meet Leon in person, show him my Bruce Springsteen t-shirt and thank him for always including "I'm On Fire" in his set!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Ath.Lon. - The Fifth Labour of Marsheaux

Having finished with my posts concerning "A Broken Frame", it is now time to turn my attention to "Ath.Lon", the fifth album by Marsheaux. And if you're wondering why this post is titled "The fifth labour of Marsheaux" this is because its title, to us Greeks brings to mind the word "athlos" which means "feat" and is the word used to describe the twelve labours of Hercules if you're familiar with Greek mythology. However, this title was chosen in order to signify two cities: Athens and London. You see, one half of Marsheaux lives in Athens, while the other half is based in London. To us computer geeks though, the title also brings to mind the Athlon processor.
We got our first taste of the album with the single "Safe Tonight" which was premiered back in April on the Auxiliary Magazine web site
This was soon released as a CD single and then the album was announced. It was released on vinyl, CD and as a 2CD box which came out a month after the standard edition. Needless to say, I went for the last one, even if that meant a month long wait. After all it contained a bonus EP with 4 extra tracks! Meanwhile we were treated to a video from UNDO Records giving us a glimpse of its production process.
When the album finally arrived, I was in for a surprise: I had work to do!
I had to fold the box myself, as the note that came with my order informed me. This was because there were complaints that the box had arrived damaged with some orders. So I spread everything on the table and got ready. 
And in case you were wondering, no, there was no mobile phone included in the package! I had this with me logged on to YouTube in order to watch the special video those nice people at UNDO Records had uploaded, showing us how to fold the box.

I must admit I got quite confused with the video, I thought that the box was being folded too fast and I couldn't see very clearly what was happening, even in HD (Maybe we should ask for the next video to be uploaded in 4K! :LOL:). However, by watching it several times and with a little guesswork I finally managed to do it. Not only that, but I realized there was enough space in there for my "Safe Tonight" single!
I was now ready to listen to it. I could have listened to it even before it arrived if I wanted to since Marsheaux had posted all the tracks on SoundCloud. However, being old school I wanted to wait until I had the box on my hands (and folded of course!)
The opening track "Burning" wasn't an immediate favourite I'm afraid. I thought it might grow on me with repeated listenings. And I was right. As I am listening to it right now while writing this review I'm actually not just liking it, but loving it!
When I saw the title of the next track on SoundCloud ("Like A Movie") my first thought was "Saint Etienne". What was happening? Were Marsheaux covering Saint Etienne? No, not really. But Saint Etienne have a song called "Like A Motorway" and another one called "Pale Movie". And this fact made this strange connection in my brain. It's easily my favourite track on the album and I can certainly imagine Saint Etienne covering it (I can also imagine Marsheaux covering "Pale Movie" for that matter).

The title of "Now You Are Mine" reminds me of New Order's "Regret" (no need to explain this any further now, do I?), a song Marsheaux have in fact actually covered. Needless to say, the song doesn't sound like New Order, but it's still one of my favourites.
"Strong Enough" is simply brilliant, probably because of its catchy hook and is followed by "Safe Tonight" with which I was already familiar.
Now it seems that in every one of the last three Marsheux albums there is a song that reminds us that they come from Greece. On "Lumineux Noir" it was "Summer" (probably their best song ever, battling for this title with "I Dream Of A Disco"). On "Inhale" it was "August Day". On "Ath.Lon." it's "Mediterranean".
I liked the song title "Let's Take A Car" even before I heard the song itself. That's probably because it brought to mind road trips and this is indeed what the song is about.
Finally the album comes to an end with the appropriately titled "The Beginning Of The End". But does it? Not really, since there are four extra songs on the bonus CD (one of which, "Treasure" is simply brilliant) and a bonus song "Butterflies" on the download version. If, like me you always buy the physical versions and if (again like me) you don't have iTunes, you can buy the song on other sites like 7Digital or BeatPort.
And now to answer the important question "Is it any good?" Of course it is, you must have figured that out by reading this review. In fact it's probably the best album I've heard all year. It is of course difficult to top "Lumineux Noir" but I think I like it better than "Inhale". Which reminds me of a review I read about the latter, a good review in fact, which said that most of the songs were mid-tempo and this was probably because of the Greek financial crisis. A strange theory, but if it is true, then if one day Marsheaux release an album full of ballads we will know that we're in deep trouble! Thankfully "Ath.Lon." is not that album...

Monday, 3 October 2016

A Broken Frame - Then And Now (The Final)

Before moving one to "Ath.Lon", the lastest Marsheaux album, I wanted to revisit "A Broken Frame" for one more (and last - promise!) time
I have dedicated two of my previous posts to "A Broken Frame". One for the vinyl versions and one for the CD's and the relevant singles. However, there was still one version I still didn't have when I completed the second post: "A Broken Frame Instrumental" by Marsheaux. This was made available within special souvenir boxes during their German (supporting VNV Nation) and Spanish gigs. The ones that were not sold at their gigs were sold later at the UNDO Store. And they sold out really fast. Somehow I managed to miss both sales of their German boxes, but when the time came for the Spanish ones (last chance!) I was more than ready and I secured one from Madrid. 

There isn't much to say about the "A Broken Frame" project that I haven't covered in my previous two posts, but I have just one thing to point out: If you relly want to see how Marsheaux have not just covered the original album note-by-note, but instead made it their own, it's a good idea to listen to the instrumentals.
This may seem like a pointless review for an album that is not easy to buy (unless you find it on E-Bay) - let alone listen to since there is only one track available on YouTube, (The Sun And The Rainfall) but I'll post here the three different versions of it (Depeche Mode, Marsheaux and Marsheaux instrumental) so you can get a basic idea.
Coming up next on this blog, my own review of "Ath.Lon" (and yes, I have the deluxe version...)