Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Ejekt Festival 2018 - Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, The Editors and a thunderstorm

Nick Cave is a regular visitor to Greece. I was actually planning to go to one of his gigs 31 years ago, back in 1987, but somehow I didn't. And what's funny is that I never got to see him during this 31 year period. My last attempt was last November, but this was on a weekday and because of work I couldn't make it to the venue on time. That gig was sold out and thankfully (and probably because of that) the promoters decided to bring him and the Bad Seeds back for a summer, open air gig at Ejekt Festival.
When the day of the festival came it didn't look much like a summer day at all. Well, it did, but not according to the weather forecast. A thunderstorm was predicted and this looked like a gig that was going to be ruined. It was indeed ruined for some people, but not for me because somehow I managed to properly prepare for it. I noticed that the forecast predicted a thunderstorm that would last for only an hour (from 8-9pm) and by my calculations I was going to get there at around 7:30. (The bands I wanted to see were the Editors and Nick Cave). Now, I remembereded that Water Square had a covered space on its right side (where most of the bars usually are) and I thought that if worse comes to worst, I would head straight for that particular place. My plans actually worked out, I was indeed there at 7:30, I met some of my friends near the front of the stage and I could see the thunderstorm approaching from the south. When I felt the first drops of rain, I immediately headed for the sheltered space and stayed there for the duration of the thunderstorm which was indeed a fierce one and, as predicted, lasted for only an hour.
Now, I have been in a situation that seemed worse, namely a Bruce Springsteen concert in Florence under a rain that lasted for three hours, but this was different. The rain in Florence was just rain. The situation in Athens back in June was a thunderstorm, meaning there was thunder and lightning and the danger of being struck by a thunderbolt was considerable. However, after the storm I once again emerged in the open, completely dry. It was then that it was announced through the speakers that the festival would go on, with Editors appearing at 10 with Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds to follow. I have already mentioned that the gig was ruined for some people. These were the people that got soaking wet during the thunderstorm, left the venue and went home thinking that the festival was going to be canceled. And they blame the promoters that they did not announce that the gig was going to go on (During the thunderstorm the stage was covered and there was a power failure so maybe that's why no announcements were made from the speakers). There were others that went home, changed clothes and came back (thankfully re-admission was allowed).
So, as I came out into the open after the storm I noticed that I couldn't get too close to the stage, because a huge pool had been formed, so I decided to watch the gig from further back as I had done with Thievery Corporation.

At 10pm promptly, Editors came on stage playing a rather short set (well, it was certainly shorter than expected from the act before the headliners, but that was probably due to the fact that the festival was way behind schedule by then). I wanted to see them, since they are quite popular in Greece, but for me there were just another one of those bands I have seen at festivals while waiting to see another one.
After the Editors finished their set, the stage was being prepared for Nick Cave who we thought was going to appear soon. However, this procedure lasted for quite a long time (this was probably for the best since the end result turned out to be formidable) and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds came on stage exactly at the stroke of midnight. All the obstacles we had faced up until then were forgotten as he launched into a full two hour set featuring most of his (and our) favourites. Our only loss were the projection screens. They were working (albeit intermittently) during the Editors set, but went completely blank while Nick Cave was performing.

Going home was a daunting task since the festival finished at 2am, but finally seeing Nick Cave live, somehow made everything worth it!

01. Hallelujah (So Low)
02. Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors
03. An End Has a Start
04. Munich
05. Violence
06. No Harm
07. Sugar
08. The Racing Rats
09. Papillon
10. Magazine

01. Jesus Alone
02. Magneto
03. Do You Love Me
04. From Her to Eternity
05. Loverman
06. Red Right Hand
07. The Ship Song
08. Into My Arms
09. Girl in Amber
10. Tupelo
11. Jubilee Street
12. The Weeping Song
13. Stagger Lee
14. Push the Sky Away
15. The Mercy Seat
16. Rings of Saturn

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

The second time I saw Marsheaux

It had already been more than a year since the OMD gig in Athens when I discovered Marsheaux and the time had finally come to see them for a second time. The gig was a free one, part of an exhibition at Technopolis called Athens Digital Week. And this time they were not the support band so I hoped they would play for a bit more time. They did, but only just. (You have to remember they had only released two albums at that time).
I arrived at Technopolis, just as the gig was starting. The synths were playing and I could see the shadows of Marianthi and Sophie as they were preparing to come on stage. 
I really enjoyed that particular gig and I took quite a few videos which were some of the first I ever posted on YouTube. Unfortunately, I managed to ruin a couple of them in the process by singing along (mainly "The Promise"). Being a YouTube newbie, I did not realize that I would be heard over the music. 
Over the years, I have taken many videos at concerts where people were singing along and I have often wondered why it was my voice only that could be heard on these early videos. And then it dawned on me: I was probably the only person that knew the full lyrics by heart. At that time I was a member of a Marsheaux fan forum on the internet and for a while I was the only Greek in there. 
I also took a few photos as well which you will notice that they are quite dark. It was indeed very dark there. There were no stage lights and in fact the only light was coming from the projection screen at the back of the stage. And as I was sitting at the very first row I didn't think it was proper to use a flash. Apart from stage lights there were other things missing on that night: changing rooms. As a result of that, Marsheaux, whose stage outfits are usually quite spectacular, performed wearing their everyday clothes.
The main reason however that this particular gig was special for me was that I met Marsheaux (as well as Nick and George from UNDO Records and Fotonovela) after it had finished and took a couple of photos with them.
I would have to wait three more years to see them again, playing support to Thirty Seconds To Mars.

Thursday, 8 November 2018


10 years ago, MTV Greece was launched. And this was done with a free concert at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens (which had been the venue for the Rock In Athens festival back in 1985). The line-up was quite impressive: REM, Kaiser Chiefs, Gabriella Cilmi and C-Real (a Greek band).
You will notice, at the end of this post, that there was a ticket issued. How come, you may wonder, since this was a free concert? Well, what happened was this: As people were approaching the stadium, they were handed this particular ticket which had a "nominal value" of €0.20 (of course, no one paid that amount). And then, they were let in. And it's great as a souvenir, 10 years after the event.

The concert was broadcast live at various MTV channels around the world so the sets had to comply to the TV format, meaning that C-Real, Gabriella Cilmi and Kaiser chiefs played 30 minute sets with enough time left over after each one ended for commercials, interviews etc. REM, on the other hand, played a full 90-minute set, and although that might have been a bit shorter than their usual sets, they still managed to overrun its intended duration with an encore

And between sets, we were treated to different happenings such as the debut of the Greek MTV presenters who were selected after an audition, presenters from other MTV channels, plus a guide to Athens and an REM interview that were also broadcast through the big screens that were set up in the stadium on that day. 

But what I mostly remember among all these and several commercials was the repeated screening of Kid Rock's video "All Summer Long" which sampled Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and its lyrics invoked good feelings, nostalgia and the simple things in life back in 1989 when "we didn't have no internet" (that's a double negative, by the way, Kid) and...

"we were trying different things
We were smoking funny things
Making love out by the lake to our favorite song
Sipping whiskey out the bottle
Not thinking 'bout tomorrow
Singing Sweet home Alabama all summer long"

First on stage where C-Real whom I had seen two years before at the Olympic Stadium supporting Shakira. People argued about whether they were suitable for this event, but this was MTV Greece after all, and a Greek band had to be featured.

Next up was Gabriella Cilmi, from Australia with Italian origins. She had a big hit at the time "Sweet About Me". She also treated us to a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" at the end of her set.

Then, it was time for Kaiser Chiefs, a band that a lot of people in the audience had come to see. Their singer kept prancing about the stage even climbing up towards the stage lights (surely, that had to be dangerous) and before each song announced that "we are the Kaiser Chiefs" (I mean, I'm sure we already knew that by then).

And finally, it was time for REM. I had seen already seen them nine years before when they had come to Athens (that is Athens, Greece, not their native Athens, Georgia). Nothing could beat that performance of course with its epic 7 minute version of "It's The End Of The World As We Know It" at the end and Michael Stipe singing "Happy Birthday" to everyone who had their birthday on that day, but it was still pretty good and a very lucky chance to see them for a second time, especially considering that a few years later they disbanded.

And so it was that MTV GR Day was finally over and we went home where we had the chance to watch it again and again on MTV Greece which repeated it a few times. I had set my DVD Recorder for it and I'm, sure I have the DVD somewhere.

Sadly, like REM, MTV Greece is no more. It was closed a few years ago. But we will always remember the day we got to watch - for free - REM and Kaiser Chiefs and discovered Gabriella Cilmi.

Gabriella Cilmi
01. Got No Place To Go
02. Sanctuary
03. Cry Me A River
04. Sweet About Me
05. Don't Want To Go To Bed Now
06. Terrifying
07. Save The Lies
08. Whole Lotta Love
Kaiser Chiefs
01. Never Miss A Beat
02. Everyday I Love You Less And Less
03. You Want History
04. Ruby
05. Half The Truth
06. I Predict A Riot
07. The Angry Mob

01. Living Well Is The Best Revenge
02. What's The Frequency, Kenneth?
03. Drive
04. Man-Sized Wreath
05. Ignoreland
06. Bad Day
07. Hollow Man
08. Electrolite
09. (Don't Go Back To) Rockville
10. The Great Beyond
11. The One I Love
12. She Just Wants To Be
13. Losing My Religion
14. Let Me In
15. Horse To Water
16. Orange Crush
17. Imitation Of Life
18. Supernatural Superserious
19. It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
20. Man on the Moon