Tuesday, 31 March 2020

My 2009 tour of Italy with Bruce Springsteen - Part 2 : Torino

My next destination after Rome was Torino. It was, if I remember correctly, a 7 hour journey and I slept through most of it (even though we had our passports thoroughly checked by the Carabinieri before the train left the station). My hotel was just beside the station, but I didn't go there when I arrived. We went straight to the stadium in order to get our numbers for the roll calls. We were quite early and we got very low numbers and this time I was determined to follow the procedure correctly, which meant wake-up calls and a few trips back and forth from my hotel to the stadium and vice versa.

I didn't get as much sleep as I would have wanted that night as a result, but that would be partly rectified later. After the last roll call on Tuesday morning, we had to stay there because the gates could open at any minute and we would have to get in, in line according to our numbers. There was a street market that day near the stadium, so we went there and bought... pillows. Yes and we used them to sit down outside the stadium and even, in my case, sleeping! Yes, I'm not ashamed to say, that I slept out in the street! (Out in the street! Geddit?) And in the middle of the day at that! And if that sounds strange, let me tell you that some people, mainly those organizing the roll calls had brought their tents and slept there during the night, not because they couldn't afford a hotel, but because they wanted to be there for the roll calls. Anyway, our long wait there was made easier by the fact that there was cloud cover (but no rain) during most of the day (we were near the Alps, remember?) so we didn't have to suffer the scorching heat we had experienced outside the Stadio Olimpico in Rome the day before.

So, what happened was that one of my friends woke me up from a deep sleep and told me "Get up Pap, we're going in". I just had time to grab one of the pillows we had bought (I think I left another one there in the street). I thought the pillow would come in useful, because we were in for another long wait once we got inside the stadium and I remember dragging it with me as we were guided to the pit in an orderly fashion. We were waiting there, thankfully sitting down, for quite some time, (though not so much as in Rome because there was no aquatic championship taking place nearby which meant that the show would start at a more reasonable time). We spent that time, telling stories of previous concerts and guessing what Bruce might play.

Finally, the wait was over and Bruce came on stage. And instead of opening with the usual "Badlands" as he did in Rome and in fact on several other dates of this tour, he started with one of what I call the "surprise opening numbers", songs that he doesn't play too often. This time it was "Loose Ends". The usual "Badlands" was the second song. But there were more surprises in store for us. At some point Bruce brought out a chair, sat on it with his guitar at the very front of the stage within touching distance (and every time he approached the front of the stage, I would get close to him, whether I wanted to or not, because the whole pit crowd would approach the stage - they would pull back when we went back, and they were very polite, saying "scusi" all the time) and sang "Workin' On The Highway" which is probably my favourite song from the "Born In The USA" album and I hadn't heard it live until then. The rock 'n' roll highlight this time was "Travellin' Band" one of my favourite Creedence Clearwater Revival songs.

But the biggest surprise of the night was to come just after that song and there was a back story to it. Two days before, in Rome, we were given sign requests for "Drive All Night" (a very emotional song off The River album which Bruce rarely played live back then). We kept waving them while Bruce was collecting the request signs and I think he took several of them, but he did not oblige that night. This time, the Italians took it a to the next level. They handed him a sign request that consisted of three envelopes, clearly marked 1, 2 and 3. Bruce opens the first envelope, out comes a sign saying "Drive All Night", He opens up a second envelope, out comes another sign saying "Drive All Night". He opens up the third and guess what: Yes, it was another "Drive All Night" sign. So Bruce, looks towards Max who just shrugged as if to say ("I'm OK with it"). That's when i thought "Success!". This time he was going to play it! But why did I want so much to hear it live? Well it was the favourite song of one my friends. She had been to several Springsteen concerts over the years and only managed to hear it once. Unfortunately, after the Rome concert she decided to go back to Greece and not to follow us to Torino, so she missed her chance of hearing it for a second time.

After the concert had finished, once again with the customary "Twist And Shout", my friends and I hang around for a while outside the stadium, eating junk food from one of the cantines, at the same place where we had been sleeping a few hours before while we were waiting to get in.

"I made it!", I thought. I had followed the pit roll call procedure all the way and I saw Bruce from really up close. But it had been such a tiring experience that I decided that on my next concert in Udine I would not go into the pit. Well, you know what they say... Never say never...

01. Loose Ends
02. Badlands
03. Hungry Heart
04. Outlaw Pete
05. Working on the Highway
06. Working on a Dream
07. Murder Incorporated
08. Johnny 99
09. American Skin (41 Shots)
10. Raise Your Hand
11. Travelin' Band
12. Drive All Night
13. Two Hearts
14. My Love Will Not Let You Down
15. Waitin' on a Sunny Day
16. The Promised Land
17. My Hometown
18. Backstreets
19. Lonesome Day
20. The Rising
21. Born to Run
22. Land of Hope and Dreams
23. American Land
24. Glory Days
25. Dancing In The Dark
26. Twist And Shout

Monday, 30 March 2020

My 2009 tour of Italy with Bruce Springsteen - Part 1 : Rome

As Italy is going through a difficult time, it is important for me to remember all the wonderful times I've had and all the wonderful people I've met there. One of these times, probably the best one, was when I took an almost complete tour of Italy, from Rome northwards, following Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band on the Working On A Dream tour. What made it easier was the fact that the concerts were evenly spaced. One every two days: Sunday the 19th of July in Rome, Tuesday the 21st in Torino and finally Thursday the 23rd in Udine. In this way I could go to the concert on one day and then travel the following day to the next town and join the pit roll calls upon arrival. A friend of ours had collected our money and sent it to another friend in Italy who bought the tickets for us so we avoided the usual "ticket stress".
During the days before my trip to Rome I was running a high fever which had manifested itself during a Paul Weller gig in Athens and which I had probably contracted during an Oasis gig in London. There was a serious flu going around in those days. The fever finally relented on Friday the 17th, so I was able to travel on Saturday the 18th. And apart from me, there  were so many Greeks that had come to Rome for this concert that we were right in saying that "The Greeks invade Rome". This was something that would be repeated, again in Rome, during the 2016 River tour. We spent Saturday night by going to a Bruce Springsteen party in Rome, organized by Italians where a local tribute band played.

This was my first concert where I followed the roll call procedure, though not correctly which resulted in my (and a few of my friends') missing a roll call and getting a second, higher number. We still got in the pit though. There we were in for a long wait as there was an Aquatic championship taking place nearby which was not to be interrupted by the noise. This meant that the concert started well past 10 pm and with Bruce's 3 hour concerts you can guess at which time it finished. We spent this time singing Thunder Road with a friend from Cyprus and his teenage children, talking about friends who couldn't make it there (hello, Anastasia!) and trying to position ourselves in a better position inside the pit (which was basically cheating plain and simple but there you go).

All these things were forgotten when Bruce came on stage though. Now this was my only concert from the Working On A Dream tour where Bruce sang not two but three songs from the aforementioned album. 

So apart from the usual two ("Outlaw Pete" and "Working On A Dream") we also got "Surprise, Surprise" because somebody requested it. It was also the first time I heard "Thunder Road" (it was not a regular feature on that tour, but it is still my favourite Bruce song). During that song I noticed someone that must have come out of a cartoon. One of those characters with springs under their shoes so that they jump up and down. With every jump however she was coming closer to us and when she reached us we realised that it was one of our friends who had chosen this way to "cheat" in the pit so that she could be with us. We got "Seeds", we got "No Surrender" as well (very appropriate with so many Greeks from the No Surrender Community present) and this time Bruce did his regular speech during "Working On A Dream" in Italian. 

This was the first Bruce concert where I developed the habit of taking a photo of the audience behind me during "Born To Run" (that's when all the stadium lights are turned on).

Bruce brought his mum and two of her friends on stage during "American Land" and in the end they didn't want to go. He had practically to usher them off stage before he could continue with the next song! 

And finally, the rock 'n' roll highlight was an unexpected "You Can't Sit Down", apart from the usual "Twist And Shout" which was the very last song.
The concert finished in the early hours of Monday the 20th of July, but thankfully one of us had thought of hiring a bus to take us from Stadio Olimpico back to our hotels. But no, we couldn't go to sleep. We gathered in Piazza Barberini where the hotel that most of us were staying was and went into a late night bar and ordered some food and drinks which took half of a length of a Bruce concert to arrive.
The following day most people were heading to Fiumicino airport to get back to Greece (and there was a huge gathering of Greeks there on that day). But my roommate and I headed to the train station and got on a train to our next destination: Torino...

01. Badlands
02. Out In The Street
03. Outlaw Pete
04. No Surrender
05. She's The One
06. Working On A Dream
07. Seeds
08. Johnny 99
09. Atlantic City
10. Raise Your Hand
11. Hungry Heart
12. Pink Cadillac
13. I'm On Fire
14. Surprise, Surprise
15. Prove It All Night
16. Waitin' On A Sunny Day
17. The Promised Land
18. American Skin (41 Shots)
19. Lonesome Day
20. The Rising
21. Born to Run
22. My City Of Ruins
23. Thunder Road
24. You Can't Sit Down
25. American Land
26. Bobby Jean
27. Dancing In The Dark
28. Twist And Shout

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Paul Weller in Athens 2009

As I mentioned on my previous post, I had gone to see Santana in Athens on a Wednesday night and the weekend after that I went to London to see Oasis. On Tuesday after my return from London I went to see Paul Weller for the second time that year, this time in Athens. Meanwhile, I had been out both on Monday night and on the previous Thursday while also working during the day. So when I started feeling a bit poorly while waiting for Paul Weller to start his set at Vrachon Theatre I assumed that it was just tiredness. I did not for a moment think that while in London I had contacted a serious flu that was going around at the time. I managed to enjoy the Paul Weller gig, but after it finished, I went straight home and jumped into my bed. I attempted going to work the following day but after a couple of hours I had to go back home. The problem was that on the following weekend I was due to go to Italy not for one, not for two, but for three Bruce Springsteen concerts. Would I be able to recover in time?
Back to the Weller concert now. I did not regret having seen him in London earlier that year because back then, at the O2 Arena he had a whole string section with him (comprised only of women), as can be seen on his Just A Dream DVD. Now he had come with just a basic band. 

Moreover, when I arrived at the theatre I realized the reason that I had never expected him to come to Athens and why he would probably never come again (He still hasn't and it's 2020 now): There were only a handful of people who had come to see him (although one of them had the exact same haircut and sunglasses that Weller was sporting back in his Jam days). Thus, I was able to get on the first row and grab "the railing". Minutes before he appeared one of the organizers came on stage to announce that Paul was going to play only six songs from his then latest album "22 Dreams" and all the rest would be old favourites. And that's indeed what happened. Although he started with one of his solo songs that had only been released as a single ("Wild Blue Yonder"), we then got Jam songs ("The Eton Rifles", "A Town Called Malice"), Style Council songs ("Shout To The Top") and a lot of his solo favourites ("You Do Something To Me", "From The Floorboards Up" and "Wild Wood" among them).

So yes, I enjoyed seeing Paul Weller one more time and I realized that I had to go and see From The Jam now (Bruce Foxton's band) in order to complete the experience. But that was to come in December. Meanwhile I had to go back home and recover from the flu in time for the following weekend's Bruce Springsteen experience. Thankfully, the fever finally subsided the day before my trip...

01. Wild Blue Yonder
02. Out Of The Sinking
03. 22 Dreams
04. The Changingman
05. All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You)
06. From The Floorboards Up
10. Porcelain Gods
12. One Bright Star
13. Empty Ring
14. Push It Along
15. That's Entertainment
16. Wild Wood
17. Echoes Round The Sun
19. Broken Stones
20. Whirlpool's End
Encore 2:
21. Town Called Malice

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Santana in Athens 2009

This was going to be a very busy and long week. And then some. After having seen Tiesto the previous Saturday, I was going to see Santana on Wednesday, then fly to London on Saturday to see Oasis, then fly back to Athens again to see Paul Weller, for the second time that year, in Athens. And the weekend after that I would be departing for my tour of Italy with Bruce Springsteen!
It all started according to plan, so on Wednesday evening I went to the Athens Olympic Stadium to see Santana. They weren't expected to fill the stadium so the stage was placed horizontally, at its side, so that the tickets that were put up for sale were for the opposite side of the stadium, approximately one half of it. 

However, it turned out that the organizers had grossly underestimated the number of people who wanted to see Santana and as a result the concert was quickly sold out and people were begging for tickets. That reminded me of the time when I was working in Tampa, FL in the USA back in 2000. The only major band to play in Tampa during that summer were Santana and that was sold out as well.
Anyway, most of the old classics we expected were played (with the exception of Europa), but some people felt that they overdid it with the latin section and were bored. 

There was a nice surprise in store however when they paid tribute to the recently departed Michael Jackson with an instrumental version of "She's Out Of My Life"

All in all it was a great. latin-flavored, summer night!

01. Soul Sacrifice
02. Into The Night
03. Life Is For Living
04. Incident At Neshabur
05. Maria Maria
06. Foo Foo
07. Love Of My Life
08. Batuka
09. No One To Depend On
10. She's Not There
11. Evil Ways
12. A Love Supreme
13. Hot Pants
14. She's Out Of My Life
15. Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen
16. Oye Como Va
17. Smooth / Dame Tu Amor
18. Corazón Espinado
19. Jingo

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Tiesto @ Global Dance Festival, Athens 2009

Even though we are now in the year 2020, I will continue with the "gigs I went to 10 years ago that didn't make in into the blog" theme exactly from where I left off: The second half of 2009. In that particular year I went to so may concerts that it was impossible to dig into my hard discs and memory cards to unearth all evidence within just one year. So, next in line was Tiesto. I had never gone to see a DJ playing live before. With Tiesto though, I decided to make an exception. I had become interested in his music when he was chosen to play at the Athens Olympic Games opening ceremony during the parade of the athletes. This was something new at the time and he even released part of that set as an album later. He announced a gig in Athens on the 4th of July 2009 and I was able to go to that, funnily enough, because it was a “free weekend”, meaning that I wasn't going abroad for some other concert. The previous weekend I was in London for the Hard Rock Calling festival and the following weekend I was going back to London for Oasis.

The venue was the second Olympic complex that was used in the 2004 games at the site of the old airport. It was not held on any of the arenas, but outside, in the surrounding area.

So, this in effect was an open air summer dance party. And I treated it as one. I was up close to the stage at the beginning and then I moved towards the back enjoying my drink.

There was first a DJ set by Ecotek and then the night belonged to Tiesto who played until 3 o' clock in the morning.

All in all, it was a night of summer clubbing! And the next time I experienced something (a bit) similar was when I saw The Chemical Brothers, at the same place (but in one of its indoor arenas), 9 years later.

02. NOT ENOUGH TIME (Club Mix) - Cosmic Gate Feat. Emma Hewitt
03. U GOT 2 KNOW - Dubguru
04. LETHAL INDUSTRY (Hardwell Remix) - Tiesto
05. KIDSOS - Sebastian Ingrosso
06. I AM STRONG - Tiesto Presents Priscilla Ahn
07. EARTHQUAKE (Ali Wilson Tekelec Remix) - Little Boots
08. RYU (Laidback Luke Edit) - Avicii
09. I LOVE THE SUNSHINE (Beltek Remix) - Alan Connor And Mike Melange
10. CARPE NOCTUM – Tiesto
11. LOVE LOCKDOWN (Tiësto Remix) - Kanye West
12. OCEAN WAVE (Existone Instrumental Mix) - Aurosonic And Morphing Shadows Feat. Marcis
13. I WILL BE HERE - Tiësto Feat. Sneaky Soundsystem
14. WE ARE THE PEOPLE (Wawa Remix) - Empire Of The Sun
15. MY OTHERSIDE - Red Hot Chilli Peppers Vs. Benny Benassi
16. LOVE COMES AGAIN - Tiësto Feat. BT
17. TRAFFIC (DJ Montana Edit) - Tiesto
18. DANCE4LIFE (Berlin Edit) - Tiësto Feat. Maxi Jazz
19. NO MORE HEROES - Tiësto And Blue Man Group
20. BACK IN YOUR HEAD (Tiësto Remix) - Tegan And Sara
21. I’M NOT ALONE (Tiësto Remix) - Calvin Harris
22. HEADS WILL ROLL (Tiësto Remix) - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
23. ONE MORE CHANCE (Tiësto Remix) - Bloc Party
25. CHASE THE JUPITER (Ernesto And Bastian Mashup) - Ernesto And Bastian Vs. Planet Funk
26. JUST BE - Tiesto
27. INVISIBLE TOUCH (Ferry Corsten’s Touch) - Bobina
28. OLYMPIC FLAME - Tiesto
29. HE’S A PIRATE (Album Version) - Tiësto
30. FOREVER TODAY - Tiësto
31. DEPARTURE - Dave 202
32. FLIGHT 643 (Richard Durand Remix) - Tiësto
33. COFFEE BREAK - Mark Norman
34. THE SCIENTIST (Guy Mearns Remix) - Mark Norman
35. MADAGASCAR (Richard Durand Remix) - Art Of Trance
36.THE WOLF - Paul Webster
37.ISTANBUL (Fred Baker Remix) - Paul Webster
38. FORGIVEN - The Mystery
39. CARTE BLANCHE (Scot Project Quick Remix) - Veracocha
40. INSIDE ME - Marcel Woods
41. KERNKRAFT 400 (Laidback Luke Edit) - Marcel Woods