CULTURE

Energized Electron back for 2001

Back after last year’s launch, Electron 2001, a newcomer to the local scene’s expanding festival circuit, will be returning next week as a two-day event in Athens at the Lycabettus Theater. Last year, Electron’s organizer, Anosi, had billed the event as a two-city festival with a roster of artists performing a day each in both Athens and Thessaloniki. Despite the alterations, the festival’s revamped version does bear some resemblance to its forerunner. Orbital, the popular dance act that headlined last year’s event, will be back to appear on a bill that also includes the folk-pop band James, Morcheeba, new arrival Bent, as well as a last-minute inclusion, the Stereo MCs. Headlining again, Orbital will end proceedings on the festival’s opening night, Tuesday, September 18, while James will close the festival’s second and final night – several days later – on Friday, September 21. For James’s considerable number of local fans, it has been quite a wait. The band, one of Britain’s more popular indie acts since the mid-1980s, will be touring here for the first time. Like many of their contemporaries, James, who formed in Manchester in 1982, had been hailed as the next Smiths, which proved both beneficial and detrimental for the group’s fate. Morrissey, the flamboyant frontman of The Smiths, the phenomenally successful post-punk band from Manchester, was quick to endorse James. Morrissey backed his faith with action and invited the band to open shows for The Smiths back in the mid-1980s. The move helped spread the up-and-coming group’s fame, but, eventually, James was stuck with the frustrating title of a second-rate Smiths. The band will be visiting Greece with a brand new album in its bags, Pleased to Meet You, its 11th, with Brian Eno the producer. The influential Eno, who occasionally decides to produce material for younger acts, but only when intrigued by their material, first worked with James on 1993’s acclaimed album, Laid. Orbital, or the brothers Paul and Phil Hartnoll – who brought last year’s festival to its grand finale after performances by the Dandy Warhols, Chumbawamba and local artist Constantinos Beta – will also be touring with a new album, The Altogether, to showcase. Originally, the band intended to perform a concert of its own here in June, but the date was postponed for personal reasons. By the mid-1990s, Orbital, which formed just a few years earlier, had established themselves as one of the techno scene’s biggest acts after managing to bridge the seemingly inseparable gap between the rock and dance scenes. Nowadays the group possesses enough clout to top bills at renowned festivals, Glastonbury being one example, though the siblings began humbly. Before deciding to jointly focus on their musical activities, Phil Hartnoll was making his living as a bricklayer while brother Paul was gradually finding his musical way with a local band in their hometown in Kent. A series of successful singles in the late 1980s led to Orbital’s debut, self-titled album in 1991. Shortly afterward, the Hartnolls began taking techno beyond dance clubs with 1992’s follow-up, Orbital 2. Their engaging live shows proved instrumental in achieving this. Unlike many other techno acts, which, at the time, were heavily dependent on DAT machines to get them through their live shows, Orbital made allowances for improvisation in this heavily, if not entirely, preprogrammed field. The Stereo MCs, whose last-minute inclusion on the festival’s bill was announced just several days ago, will precede Orbital’s show. One of the most successful hip-hop acts to emerge from the UK, they were absent from the scene for a lengthy eight years and finally re-emerged this year with a new album, Deep Down and Dirty. Despite the long hiatus, the group’s members have been active in a variety of side projects including remixing and producing the work of others. Also, vocalist Cath Coffey released her debut solo single, Wild World, in 1997. The group, whose latest album has already received excellent reviews, will be visiting Athens as an act in top form. Incidentally, to cover the cost of the Stereo MCs’ late addition to the festival’s agenda, the event’s promoter has increased ticket prices for Tuesday, the day of their performance, by 2,000 drachmas to 12,000 drachmas. The promoter has announced that concert-goers who have already purchased their tickets at the original price will need to return to the place of purchase, pay the additional amount and receive reissued tickets. Tickets for the second night remain unchanged at their original price of 12,000 drachmas. Back to the entertainment, the dance act Bent, whose lead singer Zoe performed with Faithless at the group’s recent show in Athens, will open the festival on Tuesday. Released last year, the group’s first album, Programmed to Love, is now beginning to attract some attention. The soul / trip-hop band Morcheeba, a previous visitor, will be returning as an 11-piece band that includes the act’s core trio of vocalist Sky Edwards and the brothers Paul and Ross Godfrey, who are primarily responsible for the London-based group’s material. The group has been booked to precede James on Friday. The evening will get under way with a non-live music set from one of the country’s better-known DJs, Nikos Patrelakis. Electron 2001 events take place at the Lycabettus Theater. The concert lineup on September 18 includes Orbital, the Stereo MCs, and Bent; on September 21: James, Morcheeba, and Nikos Patrelakis. In Athens, tickets are available at Happening, Trust and Virgin Megastores, all Village Centers, Rodon Club, Ticket House (tel 360.8366) and Ticket Hellas ( tel 618.9300). In Thessaloniki, tickets are available at Virgin Megastores.