Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Queensryche live in Athens November 2019

To tell you the truth, I first got interested in Queensryche back in the day, because their name started with "Queen". I was intrigued however by the fact that one of their first songs was called "Queen Of The Reich", paraphrasing the band's name. And then I got to actually listen to them in 1990 when a fellow student who was a heavy metal fan gave me their "Empire" CD for free, simply because he had bought it and... hated it. On first listen, I found it rather boring, (it was probably too prog for me at the time) but I really liked the ballad featured in that album titled "Silent Lucidity". In later years I decided to investigate further and finally managed to track down their "Queen Of The Reich" CD. And now, in 2019 they were coming to Athens, so I wasn't going to miss them.
It was on a Saturday, two days before the Bryan Adams concert, which turned out to be the last big concert in Greece before the lockdown and it was at Fuzz Club, the same venue where my concert year had started with Uriah Heep. There weren't so many people compared to the aforementioned gig, so I found a nice little corner at the back to enjoy it while preserving some energy, since I had two more gigs coming up the following week and one of them was in London.

They played songs from the whole span of their career, including from fan favourite "Operation Mindcrime" but also from my favourites "Queen Of The Reich" and "Empire". In fact they actually played "Queen Of The Reich" and "Silent Lucidity" back to back!

All in all an incredible and highly enjoyable Saturday night with what would turn out to be one of my last gigs before the lockdown...

02. I Am I
03. NM 156
04. Man The Machine
05. Walk In The Shadows
07. Condition Hüman
10. Jet City Woman
11. Propaganda Fashion
12. The Mission
13. Screaming In Digital
14. Take Hold Of The Flame
15. Light-Years
16. Empire
17. Eyes Of A Stranger

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

From The Jam live in London December 2009

And so we finally come to the final gig of 2009. The concert year ended in a similar way to which it had started, as far as concerts abroad went. It started with Paul Weller in London (if we exclude the Monica gig in Athens), whom I saw not just once, but twice in the same year, and so it had to end with From The Jam, the band which featured the two other members of The Jam, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler. The Jam had been my favourite band since I first heard "David Watts" on the POP + ROCK compilation album that was released in 1979, and since the band split up in 1982, I thought I would never have the chance to hear those songs live. Well I already had actually, since Paul Weller plays a couple of Jam tracks at his gigs, but this would be the closest to the real thing since it would feature the original rhythm section. Well, by the time those December gigs took place, Rick Buckler had left and he was replaced by Mark Unpronounceablenameofbigcountry as Smash Hits used to call him back in the day, so this was essentially a Bruce Foxton band, but still, I had to go, since the songs were going to be played in the way they were originally intended. A friend had warned me not to go, saying this would be just nostalgia and basically just a tribute band. But no, I had to. It's true, that Russell Hastings' voice (the singer) resembles a lot that of Paul Weller but isn't this the way it's supposed to be? And how many singers can claim that they can sing like Paul Weller?
The trip to see that concert didn't go as it was originally planned back in the summer of that year. I think I had purchased tickets for Manchester which was on the weekend (Saturday the 12th of December). I had bought a ticket for the London gig as well in case I could get a couple free days from work but I didn't know if I would be able to go. So I was going to have to go with Manchester. However a Bruce Springsteen party was arranged for that particular day by No Surrender, the Greek Springsteen community and I didn't want to miss that. So I decided to go to London and actually get a couple free days from work (I didn't even have any free days left - not surprisingly with all the places I've been to in 2009 but they gave a couple unpaid ones). I think I had already booked flights and hotels for Manchester, so I had to rearrange everything at the last minute. So, for the first time in many years I would travel with British Airways instead of EajyJet. And I would fly not just to Heathrow, but to the then new Heathrow Terminal 5 which had had its disastrous inauguration the year before. The irony was that I booked myself a room at the EasyHotel in Heathrow.
The new terminal looked good, with a great Christmas tree and what added to the Christmas spirit was that it was snowing in London on that day! I remember taking selfies in Piccadilly Circus and sending them to my friend in Athens. Oh and I also went to Sister Ray Records to buy the limited edition "Breakthrough" CD single by Marsheaux. Imagine going to London and buying a single from a Greek band. Oh and by the way the cover of the copies sold in London was a misprint which probably makes them collectors items now. I bought two of them and I also bought two from Greece featuring the original print. And since only 300 of these were made I can now claim that I own more than 1% of them!

Anyway, back to the gig. I got a taxi from the hotel to Sheperd's Bush that night if I remember correctly so that I would be on time. At the venue I got some amazing t-shirts from the merchandise stand. I only wanted to buy one but the guy made me an offer and I got three plus some stickers. Their design was amazing with mod targets and what have you.

The gig started with The Longsands, the support band who were actually more than quite good. I actually met the singer after a gig and got one of their CD's. I told him I had come all the way from Greece and he asked me to play that CD to other people when I got back.

After the Longsands set it was finally time for From The Jam with "The Circus" (an instrumental Foxton track from "The Gift") blasting out of the speakers as the band members got on stage and kicked off with "Going Underground". That was it! A dream coming true! What I did not remember though was that part of The Jam experience was pogo dancing and that was what everybody around me started doing seeing as I was very close to the front of the stage.I tried to keep up for a couple of songs but eventually I retreated a bit towards the back for the rest of the gig. That did not lessen the enjoyment in any way and I got to hear all my favourites including "David Watts" which was sung by Bruce Foxton originally anyway.

When the gig was finished, and after I had talked to the Longsands singer in the lobby I got on the venue to go to the tube station. But just outside the venue there were some guys who had set up a temporary stall selling unofficial t-shirts with the original Jam logo on them. So, I bought one of these as well... 

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Nouvelle Vague live in Athens November 2009

The current situation, being what it is, does not allow for live gigs. Still, some artists aren't short of ideas and this is what two members of Nouvelle Vague did a few days ago because they couldn't come to Thessaloniki, Greece, for an appearance at the Demetria festival. They streamed an acoustic performance from a sauna! Back in 2009 though, they had come to Athens and it was the second time that I went to see them. Once again, it was at the same place, Gagarin and they still had a male singer, along with the two female ones.
The opening act was Olga Kouklaki, herself an established artist in the field of electronic music in France, even though she is Greek. I had heard of her a while back but this was the first time that I saw her live.

Nouvelle Vague were, once again, amazing. Remember it was only the second time I had seen them live and I was very excited to listen to all those songs from my childhood, in a bossa nova arrangement.


Even when I think about it now, what was on that night's menu was amazing. Covers of songs by The Sex Pistols, Depeche Mode, Yazoo, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Blondie, Joy Division and The Specials among others. Probably, the best Nouvelle Vague gig I have ever been to.