CULTURE

Jamaican reggae great returns

It can take them a while to get here, but when they finally do a steady flow of return visits is often the ensuing pattern. Take the larger-than-life reggae hero Lee «Scratch» Perry, for example, who toured here about this time last year for his first-ever show in Greece, as a 65-year-old. The Swiss-based Jamaican veteran, currently enjoying a career revival propelled by a wider reggae renaissance that has shed light on lesser-known reggae greats such as Horace Andy and Augustus Pablo, will be making a quick return for two shows in Athens later this month. Perry’s appearances will usher in a series of other high-profile summertime concerts here by touring acts, including Massive Attack in mid-July, the Dandy Warhols and Moby in a little over a month, as well as hip-hop heavyweights Public Enemy in a belated first visit to Greece early in June. There will be no Rockwave Festival this summer, an annual rock event that has attracted some high-caliber acts since the mid-1990s. The organizers are saving their strength for the summer of 2004, right on time for the Athens Olympics. Jamaican eccentricity Perry, a towering figure of reggae music and one of the form’s offshoots, dub, who has produced literally thousands of Jamaican recordings including releases by the late Bob Marley and the Wailers, as well as his own through various lineups such as the Upsetters, has been booked for two nights at the An Club in Exarchia (13-15 Solomou, tel 210.330.5057) on May 31 and June 1. Nowadays based in Switzerland, Perry, a revered figure among reggae enthusiasts as well as a wildly eccentric figure, had performed most of his production work at his own Black Ark studio in Jamaica, which, according to legend, he torched. Public Enemy, the group that redefined hip-hop to become the most influential and controversial rap group of the late 1980s, are scheduled to play their first-ever shows in Greece in Athens on June 6 and 7 at Ark No. 6 (18 Themidos, tel 210.338.8400), as well as a third night in Thessaloniki on June 8 at the Ydrogeios Club (33 26th October, 2310.516.515). Led by Chuck D and his authoritative rapping, Public Enemy’s hardcore rap stung as musically and politically revolutionary material that addressed all kinds of social problems, particularly those plaguing the USA’s black community. In 1993, the group went on a hiatus after it infuriated the establishment with provocative statements. Chuck D released a solo album three years later, as well as an autobiography in 1997, before Public Enemy returned with the soundtrack for Spike Lee’s film «He Got Game.» It was followed by «There’s a Poison Goin’ On,» and, after a three-year break, last year’s «Revolverlution,» a mix of new tracks, remixes and live material. Moby back again Moby, one of electronica’s biggest-selling artists and a regular performer here since the mid-1990s, will play this summer season’s first big show at the open-air Lycabettus Theater on June 17. He followed up 1999’s platinum-seling blues-and-electronica cocktail «Play» with last year’s equally well-received «18.» A night later at the same venue, the appealing pop-rock act the Dandy Warhols will be returning to Greece for the fourth time in three years, a little over a month prior to the scheduled release of their new album, «Welcome to the Monkey House.» Whether it’s the sharper pop-rock numbers or the more sprawling, psychedelic-tinged material they often opt for, the Dandy Warhols have proved an exceptionally reliable supplier of highly infectious work on three previous albums to date, as well as engaging stage performers. Another major event at Lycabettus Theater, in midsummer on July 14 and 15, should be the highly influential Bristol group Massive Attack’s two shows. This will be the act’s third visit to Greece and to the venue. One of their generation’s most innovative acts, Massive Attack’s dark and hypnotic sound, a sensual fusion of hip-hop rhythms, soul, dub and samples, from as far back as the early 1990s, set the groove for other similar-minded peers such as Tricky, an early-period collaborator, and Portishead – both also from Bristol – and more recently, the neo-folk artist Beth Orton, who, incidentally, played her first shows in Greece over the winter. Five years after their previous album, «Mezzanine,» Massive Attack returned with a new album, «100th Window,» three months ago. Its cast of guests included Jamaican reggae ace Horace Andy, a regular on the outfit’s albums and at shows, as well as Sinead O’Connor. One of the wavering Brit-pop scene’s earlier arrivals, Suede, the Bowie-influenced act that is fronted by their charismatic showman Brett Anderson, will be returning to the same stage they played several summers ago, at the Vrachon Theater in Athens. Suede’s show, on June 25, will span the band’s five-album career. Music at Comifest The current month’s agenda includes American act Mendoza Line, from Athens, Georgia, which will give a free concert on Friday at Ark No. 6 in Athens as part of a comics festival, Mad Comifest. Mendoza Line has generated considerable critical acclaim since emerging in the mid-1990s with a languid American sound influenced by fine compatriot acts such as Mazzy Star, Calexico, REM, and the Dream Syndicate. Also this Friday, newcomers Ikara Colt, a British act heavily influenced by American post-punk innovators Sonic Youth, will play their first show in Greece at the Gagarin 205 club in Athens (205 Liosion, tel 210.854.7600). They’ve proven to be a critics’ favorite at home in recent times. A night later, at the same club, the far more melodic British band Cousteau will bring back its pop finesse after a show in Athens two years ago. The Canadian post-rock collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor, who performed here last year, will be at the Gagarin 205 venue for two nights on June 3 and 4. They’re touring with a new album, «Yangui Uxo.» Michalis Delta, of the now-defunct Greek electronica act Stereo Nova but active as a solo recorder in recent years, will perform his first show since the group’s demise at the Rodon Club in Athens (24 Marni, 210.524.7427) on May 17, coinciding with the release of a new solo album.