Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Release Festival 2018 - Day 2 - Thievery Corporation & UB40 Featuring Ali, Astro And Mickey

For the second consecutive day I headed to Water Square for Release Festival. I went straight after work with the intention of catching UB40 which was the main reason that I was attending Day 2. My goal was to reach the venue by 9pm, when UB40 were set to appear. And I made it! I got in just as UB40 were launching into "Here I Am (Come And Take Me)". 

Now before I talk any further about the gig I have to explain what I mean by "UB40". There are actually 2 bands going by the name of UB40 at the moment. One of them is called just "UB40" and features Robin Campbell, one of the original members. However, original lead singer Ali Campbell (Robin's brother) has been replaced by Duncan Campbell (his other brother). Confused? You will be! The other band goes by the name of "UB40 Featuring Ali, Astro & Mickey" and it's this one that features original singer Ali Campbell (hence the name). As you can understand there has been a falling-out between the two brothers in the original band. 

All in all I can say that I'm glad that it was this, the latter version of UB40 I got to see live, because it features the original voices I have associated with UB40 all these years, Ali & Astro.

I planned this to be a more relaxing day compared to the first one, so I sat further back from, but in full view of the stage.

And the hits not only kept on coming, but we were also treated to songs from this band's new album "A Real Labour Of Love" which proved to be quite successful!

Next up, were the headliners of Day 2, Thievery Corporation. They are popular among the Greek concert going crowd since they have already played live in Greece a few times.

They are known for mixing together different styles of music and that's exactly what they did singing in different languages and using several singers. In fact, while listening to their latest album I discovered that they have sampled "Enola Gay" by OMD on one of its tracks ("Voyage Libre").

By this time however, the tiredness of the last couple of days was beginning to creep in (which I suspect was augmented a bit by the thoughts of the gigs coming up within the next couple of months) so I had to sit down for a few songs, but at least I was always in view of the screen.

As I was leaving the festival, I was thinking that I would be coming back to this general area, but at a different venue for my next gig, which was going to be a free one...

01. Here I Am (Come And take Me)
02. Wear You To The Ball
03. Homely Girl
04. Version Girl
05. One In Ten
06. Cherry Oh Baby
07. Just Another Girl
08. Rat In Mi Kitchen
09. She Loves Me Now
10. Silhouette
11. Kingston Town
12. Many Rivers to Cross
13. Food For Thought
14. How Could I Leave
15. (I Can't Help) Falling In Love
16. Red Red Wine

01. Marching The Hate Machines (Into the Sun)
02. True Sons Of Zion
03. Voyage Libre
04. Letter To The Editor
05. Culture Of Fear
06. Illumination
07. Until The Morning
08. Take My Soul
09. Ghetto Matrix
10. Le Monde
11. Amerimacka
12. History
13. The Heart's A Lonely Hunter
14. Fight To Survive
15. Warning Shots
16. Road Block
17. Sweet Tides
18. Lebanese Blonde
19. Waiting Too Long
20. The Richest Man In Babylon

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Release Festival 2018 - Day 1 - Richard Ashcroft & Kid Moxie

My summer officially started on the last day of May with the first notes of "Lacuna" by Kid Moxie.

I had finally seen Kid Moxie live for the first time at a small club two and a half months before this and I had mentioned in my blog post about that gig that she would be playing Release Festival and based on my first live experience of her band I would love to see them again. It wasn't that simple though. I was probably going to be working that evening and she would probably appear early. On the other hand there was another band I wanted to see at this year's Release Festival, UB40 Featuring Ali, Astro & Mickey. But they were due to appear on the following day. How many concert tickets could I buy considering that Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Arctic Monkeys plus the gigs abroad were coming up? Thankfully, solutions were going to present themselves solving all the above problems. First of all, the headliner of the first day cancelled their appearance and were replaced by Richard Ashcroft making Day 1 of the festival even more appealing. Then, the organizers, deciding that this particular last minute change would not please many people announced a special offer: Those who had purchased or were going to purchase a ticket for Day 2 or Day 3 of the festival could attend Day 1 for free. On top of that a last minute change in my work schedule meant that I wouldn't have to work on the evening of Day 1 and although I had to work on the evening of Day 2 I would finish early enough to be able to arrive on time to see UB40. So, I bought a ticket for Day 2 and went to the festival early on Day 1, arriving just as Kid Moxie was beginning her set. And found out that there were almost no people in front of the stage. So, I managed to secure the "best seat in the house": first row, right in the middle of the stage. I couldn't believe my luck: I could watch Richard Ashcroft from that very same position. Needless to say, I didn't move an inch for the rest of the evening.

But first things first: I really enjoyed seeing Kid Moxie live again, this time in an open space and under the sun. And although her songs sound better at night, as she herself admitted, I enjoyed them more this time because the sound was so much better. And there was one member in the audience (a big Richard Ashcroft fan who had been waiting for years to see him live as he confessed) who seemed to particularly enjoy her set. "You and Richard Ashcroft are the best musicians" he shouted to her (or something like that). But more about him, later...

Next up was Rag 'N' Bone Man. I was familiar with only one song of his, the one we all know, "Human". But his set proved that he is a talented soul singer, plus he was very charming and friendly with the audience. 

The particular member of the audience agreed as well and shouted to him that he was a "best musician" as well. At first the artist didn't realize what the guy was saying and thought that he didn't like his music, but when he realized that he was being praised he got one of his beers from the stage and gave it to him!

He admitted that most of his songs were miserable, but I still didn't mind and as far as I'm concerned he was my "new discovery" of this festival. My friend who was with me didn't seem to agree saying that he was probably "the kid at school that nobody wanted to play with".

And now it was finally time for Richard Ashcroft. The particular member of the audience I have already talked about was now in ecstasy and he had stripped to the waist to show it. And as Richard Ashcroft came on stage starting off with "Sonnet" I was in ecstasy as well.

I could hear that guy's screams and shouts of "best musician" again, but I soon forgot about them as Richard continued not only with Verve songs but also songs from his solo career the best of which is, in my opinion, "A Song For The Lovers". 

Of course I knew that the one I was waiting for, would come towards the end. No, it's not "Bittersweet Symphony" it's a song that features on my top ten list of best songs ever written, "The Drugs Don't Work".

But as I was waiting for it I realized that I couldn't hear THAT particular member of the audience anymore. I looked around and I couldn't see him anywhere! Where was he? Well, that didn't matter as Richard's set was coming to an end with a very emotional "The Drugs Don't Work" and of course "Bittersweet Symphony" which was the last song of the night.

With that we started leaving the venue with smiles on our faces and with my friend, managed to make an arrangement for both of us to return home (there was a strike on public transport on that day) although we live in different parts of the city. And I knew that I would be making my way to the same venue the following evening for Day 2 of the festival.

But what had happened to THAT particular member of the audience, the big Richard Ashcroft fan? That mystery was finally solved about 20 days later when I was on the same venue for a different festival, Ejekt Festival featuring Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. I spotted one of the security guards who had talked to that guy and asked him what had happened to him. "We had to kick him out" he said, "because after the second song he took off both his pants and underpants". Poor guy! Such a big Richard Ashcroft fan waiting all those years to see him and only managed to listen to three songs. I guess that there's a lesson here. It's nice to get excited about music, but try to keep your clothes on while listening to it. At least in public.

01. Wolves
02. Ego
03. Your Way Or The Rope
04. The Fire
05. No Mother
06. Lay My Body Down
07. Hard Came The Rain
08. Odetta
09. Grace
10. Skin
11. As You Are
12. Love Is All You Need
13. Human
14. Bitter End
15. Hell Yeah

01. Sonnet
02. This Is How It Feels
03. Break The Night With Colour
04. A Song For The Lovers
05. Music Is Power
06. Velvet Morning
07. Science Of Silence
08. Space And Time
09. Lucky Man
10. The Drugs Don't Work
11. Hold On
12. Bitter Sweet Symphony