CULTURE

Running with the Olympics

As could have been anticipated, concert promoters, like virtually every other establishment operating in this country, all propelled by heightened Olympics-related expectations – before, during, and, perhaps, after – are shaping a growing schedule of events for the coming weeks and months. The list of touring acts expected to perform shows has, in a short time, expanded considerably, with surprises as well, such as the Doors – that’s right – or, in all honesty, two of the mythical rock group’s three surviving members, keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger, with Ian Astbury, formerly of British act the Cult, in place of the long-gone yet seemingly omnipresent Jim Morrison on the microphone. Billing themselves as the Doors (of the 21st century), the aforementioned trio, backed by a bass-and-drums rhythm section, are scheduled to deliver the old hits on July 22 at the capital’s open-air Lycabettus Theater. The group’s other surviving member, drummer John Densmore, was unable to join due to health reasons, his old bandmates told British magazine Uncut in a recent interview. «Strange days,» sang a 20-year-old Morrison on the Doors’ second album, released in 1967. Nearly four decades on, the Athens performance, as part of an extensive tour following repeated offers for a one-off reunion, should be a strange night. In terms of attempting to make rock’n’roll myth real again, few examples could surpass this one. Whether for or against the initiative, any contemplation of missing this one-off performance should prove a strenuous task for any individuals who have ever felt driven by the work of one of the most influential, controversial and longest-lasting bands of the 1960s. The group’s Athens show will be one of a series of concerts under the «Electron Nights» banner set up by local promoter Anosis for June and July. Several other worthy prospects, all programed for the Lycabettus Theater, have already been announced for the series, including alternative rock diva PJ Harvey’s return to Greece, for the third time, on June 13. Bryan Ferry will precede her on June 7, the stylish R&B newcomer Macy Gray has been booked to perform on July 12; British-Jamaican reggae veterans Steel Pulse are scheduled for June 16, and a top-selling new arrival, the goth-inspired act Evanescence, for June 11. Slick image aside, Ferry, over his long course, both as the frontman of Roxy Music and during a fine solo career, has proven a refined stage performer, always backed by a band of exquisite musicians. He will be touring not long after the release of the well-received «Frantic,» an interesting mix of originals and covers, including songs written by Bob Dylan and Leadbelly, and one co-written by Ferry and Brian Eno. Ferry’s seemingly steady nature as a stage performer could not not be said of PJ Harvey, one of the highest regarded rock artists of the past decade, who, nevertheless, tends to be what she feels on stage, which is part of the beauty behind this earnest artist. On her first visit to Greece, not long after 1995’s «To Bring You My Love» album, which led to wider exposure for the then-fringe act, the light-framed, skin-and-bone PJ Harvey looked a dispirited figure. But, even so, she and her band delivered a captivating performance. Not long afterward, Harvey, still at the early stages of that tour, canceled all other European dates. More recently, this tough and tender rock star returned to Athens bouncing about like a rubber ball. Either way, Harvey, one of the more inspired rock acts in a while, rests on a solid body of writing that stretches back to 1992’s fully realized debut, «Dry.» By the time she gets here, for the June 13 show, Harvey should have released a new album, «Uh Huh Her,» her first since 2000’s «Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea.» The album is scheduled for release in late May. Another upcoming highlight, no doubt, will be a performance by the recently reformed indie-rock legends the Pixies, who will headline on the second-to-last night of this summer’s Rockwave Festival between June 18-22 in Malakasa, north of Athens. Also appearing will be rock-legend-turned-world-music-guru Peter Gabriel, the No. 1 act on opening night. From the New York punk scene of the 1970s, the reformed group Television, led by Tom Verlaine, is expected be at the Gagarin Club in Athens on June 10. The now-legendary Iggy Pop and the Stooges will also be there on July 6. Before that, in the coming days, the admirable alternative-country act Lambchop, a well-kept secret in contemporary music that has consistently put out worthy, almost unclassifiable work, mixing mostly country, soul, and jazz, will be in Athens for a second time on April 30.