It’s a take-your-pick gig week

The local circuit’s currently heightened concert activity was ushered in last night by rock ‘n’ roll’s Mr Suavity, Bryan Ferry, back in Athens for a career-spanning set at the open-air Lycabettus Theater. It was just one of several shows by major international acts scheduled for the next few days. The light-framed rock heavyweight PJ Harvey, back with a new album, performs this Sunday, also at Lycabettus. She will be preceded by shock-rock veteran Alice Cooper, who plays tonight at the Pyli Axiou venue in Thessaloniki and tomorrow at the Petra Theater on the outskirts of Athens in the Petroupolis district. Television, one of the more creative bands to have emerged from New York’s fertile punk scene of the mid-1970s, perform on Thursday at the Gagarin 205 club in Athens, while the relatively recent, platinum-selling Evanescence, have been booked for Lycabettus Theater on Friday. PJ Harvey, currently touring with a brand new album, «Uh Huh Her,» will be returning to the country for a third time. One of the most highly regarded rock music figures of the past decade, PJ Harvey first toured here not long after 1995’s «To Bring You My Love» album, which led to wider exposure for the then-fringe act. Her visit back then came as a lucky break for local audiences. Not long after her two shows in Athens, PJ Harvey, who looked a frighteningly thin and dispirited figure, canceled all other European dates, at an early phase of the tour. The tough-and-tender artist, however, returned a new woman for a more recent performance, as part of the annual Rockwave Festival, following the release of the award-winning album «Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea,» released in 2001, an effort that was inspired by her stay in New York City and life in the English countryside. For her latest album, released in Europe last week, PJ Harvey took control in the studio. Besides playing most of the project’s instruments, she recorded and produced the album, too. Hailing from the New York punk scene of the 1970s that produced Patti Smith, one of PJ Harvey’s mentors, the reformed Television will be passing through Athens – for one show on Thursday – during a time of particular interest in the band. Later this month, on June 26, the seasoned New York quartet, comprising original members Tom Verlaine, Richard Lloyd, Billy Ficca and Fred Smith, has been booked to headline at the Glastonbury Festival, a major stop on the international rock festival circuit. The act, which had abruptly split following its second album, 1978’s «Adventure,» also performed at Glastonbury in the summer of 1992, shortly before the release of a well-received comeback album, with the title «Television.» Like the band’s first stint in the 1970s, the comeback was short-lived, too, but Television, a band that has enjoyed sustained popularity fanned by a sturdy cult following, fellow musicians, many of them younger, and critics, gathered again in 2001 for a handful of shows, mostly in the UK. Now is the time for the latest wave of shows by one of the old New York punk scene’s more sophisticated exponents. Still going strong, Alice Cooper, another old-timer who was once at the forefront of a more mainstream rock music front, will perform in Thessaloniki tonight and Athens tomorrow. Cooper will be backed by a band that includes Eric Singer, the drummer (on and off) with Kiss during various periods of the flamboyant rock group’s death-defying life, guitarist Ryan Roxie, who has worked with Slash of Guns ‘n’ Roses, and bassist Chuck Garric, whose collaborations include Dio and the Brian May band. Now in his mid-50s, Cooper, who, as far back as the late 1960s, pioneered a theatrical and violent brand of heavy metal intended to shock, is still putting out records. Cooper, now in the early stages of a world tour, has just released a new album titled «The Eyes of Alice Cooper.» Relatively recent yet already well-immersed in commercial success, the American goth-pop group Evanescence, a Grammy award-winner, will perform at the Lycabettus Theater on Friday after having topped pop charts around the world, including Greece. Led by 20-year-old singer Amy Lee, the group’s «Fallen» album, released last year, has, according to industry figures, sold over 10 millions copies worldwide.