Thursday, 4 October 2018

Your disco needs you - Kylie Minogue live in Athens in 2008

As I was writing my latest blog spot in the series of "gigs I attended 10 years ago" (the Madonna concert), I realized that there was another pop queen I saw live in that particular year (2008) and I forgot to write a post about it! It was of course Kylie Minogue, who came to prominence in 1988, a bit later than Madonna.
Her concert did not take place at a big stadium but at Terra Vibe Park instead. Now, this was the second time I went to Terra Vibe. The first was for Depeche Mode back in 2006 which was a traumatic experience. The park was filled to capacity (maybe over capacity) and we arrived quite late. The result was that there were so many people and I was at the back and I could not see absolutely anything. You see, Terra Vibe is a park not a proper concert venue so there's no gradual elevation. All I could see were the heads of the people in front of me.
This time, however there weren't so many people and after we walked about 1.5km from the car park for what seemed like ages, we managed to find an elevated area, so if everything went wrong we would still be able to see the stage.

Kylie sang several songs from her current album of that time "X" but did not forget the old hits. My personal favourites were "Shocked", which was one of her last singles with Stock/Aitken/Waterman, presented in my favourite version, the DNA mix as featured in the 12inch single I had bought at the time and "Your Disco Needs You" an amazing song which as far as I can remember was criminally not released as a single in the UK, but I discovered it as a B-side on one of her CD singles.
The ending of course couldn't be anything else than "I Should Be So Lucky".
After that, we had to face the usual Terra Vibe torture: trying to get out of the car park (It is said that this is a procedure that can last longer than the actual concert!)

So 2008, was the year that I saw two pop queens live: Kylie, and, 4 months later, Madonna!

01. Speakerphone
02. Can't Get You Out of My Head
03. Ruffle My Feathers
04. In Your Eyes
05. Heart Beat Rock
06. Wow
07. Shocked (DNA Mix)
08. Loveboat
09. Copacabana (At the Copa)
10. Spinning Around
11. Like a Drug
12. Slow
13. 2 Hearts
14. Flower
15. I Believe in You (Ballad)
16. On a Night Like This
17. Your Disco Needs You
18. Kids
19. Step Back in Time
20. In My Arms
21. No More Rain
22. Love at First Sight
23. I Should Be So Lucky

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Madonna, Sticky & Sweet, live in Athens in 2008

The first time we heard rumours of a Madonna concert in Athens was in 1998, after the one by The Rolling Stones. This would have been perfect because her current album at that time was "Ray Of Light", her best one in my opinion. It wasn't to be. However, three albums (and ten years) later she did come to Greece. Which was also ten years ago, hence the occasion for this blog post.
When the concert was announced I was in Paris to see Bruce Springsteen for the first time. A friend of mine called me and asked me if I could get her tickets for the Madonna concert in Paris, because the ones in Athens were selling like crazy and there were none left. I almost panicked, but realizing that there was nothing I could do while I was in France, I decided to worry about it when I returned to Greece. 
So when I did come back to Athens, I realized that what had happened was this: All the TV celebrities, along with their fans and the people who worshipped them had rushed to buy tickets even though they only listen to Greek music for the rest of the year. They just wanted to go to a Madonna concert to see who else was there and also to be seen (usually on TV, or the gossip columns). The result was that the server went down. However, there were some tickets left and since I wasn't interested in seeing this particular concert from up close, I bought a ticket for a seat on the opposite side of the stadium. As you will see, this turned out to be a good decision.
On the day of the concert, I had the flu accompanied by a fever. So I did what I always did when I had to work, or had exams in such a case: Just before I left home, I swallowed a couple of Panadol tablets hoping that they would last me through the length of the concert. And they almost did. The weather wasn't helping, as there was a light drizzle on that night, nor did the fact that my seat was on the upper tier of the stadium. However, when the stadium was revamped for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, a specially designed roof was placed on top designed by architect Santiago Calatrava and this gave me shelter from the rain.
Artists like Madonna (and Kylie Minogue and Lady GaGa among others but even Roger Waters) don't so much do "a concert" but "a show". The problem with this is that the setlist cannot easily be changed. So when somebody told me a few days before the concert that the setlist had been "leaked", I pointed out that the setlist is usually the same throughout the tour. And that means that if you buy the official DVD of the tour it is possible to almost "re-live" that moment. (And that was one of the reasons I bought the Sticky & Sweet Tour DVD later). Anyway, I found the "leaked" setlist, but I only just peeked at it. Honest. So, when a Greek pop singer complained to a TV reporter who interviewed him as he was exiting the stadium after the concert that Madonna didn't play "Frozen", it's not because she didn't want to play it that night but because she hadn't included it in the tour setlist.
Another issue with this type of concert shows is that there are bound to be some pre-recorded parts. Madonna used some pre-recorded music and videos between sections of the show but that doesn't mean that all instruments were pre-recorded like they do at the Eurovision Song Contest. As a friend of mine who was close to the stage, there were musicians on stage, they just weren't in the spotlight. And a pre-recorded bit I did spot was on a particular song (I have forgotten which one it was now, it's been after all ten years) where Madonna sings (live) and a pre-recorded sample of her voice answers her phrase. There are actually pre-recorded parts in almost all concerts, even rock ones, it's just that we don't know much about them.
Anyway, as I entered the stadium and found the way to my seat, Robyn, the support singer was already on stage, singing her hit "Show Me Love". I thought she looked a bit different and I thought "Show Me Love" sounded a bit different, until I realized that I was confusing her with Robyn S, a singer who also had a hit called "Show Me Love" in the 90's.

Madonna did follow that "leaked" setlist as usual (which I am sure had been carefully pre-planned and considered before the tour) and gave us two hours of fun. And she tried to get some audience participation when she urged us to sing along with her "ooh-ooh"'s but with out much success. As one gossip mag commented after the concert "Dear Maddy, we are not sheep so that we can be commanded to go ooh-ooh whenever you want us to". Unfortunately what the columnist did not realize was that Madonna did not see us as sheep, nor did she want us to be her bitches, she was merely trying to get us to sing along with the hook of "Let's All Chant", a big 70's disco hit by The Michael Zager Band. But of course you can't expect a gossip journalist who only listens to the current Greek "hits" and the day of the concert was the only day that they listened to pop music, to know this particular song.

As the concert was drawing to a close my fever returned. But of course, by then I didn't mind. All I had to do was get on public transport (and a taxi) and go straight to bed, having finally achieved my goal: I had seen Madonna live!

01. Candy Shop
02. Beat Goes On
03. Human Nature
04. Vogue
05. Into The Groove
06. Heartbeat
07. Borderline
08. She's Not Me
09. Music
10. Devil Wouldn't Recognize You
11. Spanish Lesson
12. Miles Away
13. La Isla Bonita
14. You Must Love Me
15. 4 Minutes
16. Like A Prayer
17. Ray Of Light
18. Express Yourself
19. Hung Up
20. Give It 2 Me