CULTURE

Blazing pop summer — hot tickets

This is building up into one of the more interesting summer concert seasons with regard to foreign performers. Dynamic and fresh acts, outstanding groups that have never performed here before, innovative artists, as well as more regular visitors, all make up a hot concert agenda for the approaching summer. The developments can be attributed to various factors. Concert promoters have worked hard at getting their schedules finalized months ahead of performances. Last summer’s Athens Olympics have helped foreigners consider Greece with far less hesitancy, while, moreover, the Games left behind abundant facilities just waiting to be utilized. Performance fee offers of approximately 200,000 euros – certain productions cost that much, possibly more – that are apparently going around, are attracting the attention of touring acts for stopovers here. The domino effect of these dealings translates into expensive, even exorbitant, tickets for concertgoers – should they decide to purchase, of course. Many concerts cater to age groups with minimal purchasing power. Ticket prices, this summer, are expected to range between 20 and 40 euros, and in some cases, could reach 50 euros. With the start of the summer concert season just weeks away, local concert promoters are still battling to secure appealing shows. Confirmed bookings include two recent fresh bands, Franz Ferdinand and the White Stripes, as well as acts that have previously never toured here, such as Duran Duran and Marilyn Manson. The local concert agenda each summer, it should be noted, is determined to a great extent by the major European festivals, particularly those staged in the UK. The activity begins in mid-May at the capital’s two busiest clubs, the Gagarin and the Rodon, which is set to close after its launch back in 1987. British rock group Archive will be at the Gagarin on May 13 and 14. Their shows coincide with two shows by Morcheeba at the Rodon. The group, touring with a new singer, Daisy Martey, who replaced Sky Edwards, has just released a new album, «The Antidote.» Also in May, Norwegian rock group Madrugada, also returning with a new album, «The Deep End,» typically dark and moody, will perform at the Gagarin on May 27 and 28. Just a couple of days later, outdoors on May 30, US heavy metal act Slipknot will perform one show at the Lycabettus Theater. June will begin with Thievery Corporation, or the duo of brilliant DJs Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, who like to fuse sounds from various parts of the world and politicize lyrics for appealing material. The act has been booked for the Vrachon Theater in Athens on June 2, following a show at Thessaloniki’s Fix venue a night earlier. Vaya Con Dios, back with a new album following a lengthy absence, will be at the Lycabettus Theater on June 3. The popular act will also perform in Thessaloniki on the following night, at the Lazariston Monastery venue. Also at Lycabettus on June 8, Faithless should offer one of the summer’s most dance-friendly performances. The show will be part of the annual Electron Nights series. Performances have been planned at the Olympic beach volleyball facilities, beginning with a festival on June 11 headlined by the Chemical Brothers and including Miss Kitten, Dave Clarke and Unkle. Also scheduled for the beach volley venue are Queens of the Stone Age, one of the most worthwhile American rock groups of recent years, and the White Stripes, a highly sought after act on this year’s European festival circuit. Dates for their shows, however, have not yet been announced. But, considering their June 24 appearance at the UK’s Glastonbury festival, the White Stripes are likely to perform here around that time. Electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk have already been booked for a show at the beach volleyball venue on June 18. Iron Maiden will play at the Terravibe venue, some 30 kilometers north of Athens, in Malakassa, on June 21. Duran Duran, pop idols of the ’80s who scored worldwide hits, set trends, made teenage girls delirious, and, just recently, put out a new album, «Astronaut,» will perform at the Lycabettus Theater on June 23. The band will be touring with its full original lineup intact. July will open in nostalgic fashion with a concert by Kansas, the band behind that huge old hit «Dust in the Wind,» on the first day of the month at Lycabettus. Franz Ferdinand, one of the scene’s hottest new acts, kept their promise made at the Rodon just months ago, and will return for a show at Lycabettus on July 26. Most acts for this summer’s Rockwave Festival, the country’s oldest and biggest annual rock music festival, organized by Didi Music, have been booked. For the first time, the festival will be held in two rounds, beginning with June 24-26 and followed by July 8 and 9. June 24 features Marilyn Manson and Garbage. The June 25 agenda includes Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne; Velvet Revolver, featuring former Guns’n’Roses members; as well as Black Label Society. The first round’s final day, June 26, includes Moby and Sonic Youth. The festival’s second round, July 8 and 9, which is dedicated to heavy metal, includes Slayer, Accept, Candlemass, and Di Member on Day 1, and Twisted Sister, Dio, Anthrax, Katatonia and Zycklon the following night. Paul D. Miller, best known as DJ Spooky, will be at the Herod Atticus on May 24 as part of the ancient venue’s Hellenic Festival proceedings. The electronica guru’s performance, «The Rebirth of a Nation,» is based on the film by D.W. Griffith, «Birth of the Nation.» Also headed for the Herod Atticus, for two nights, July 4 and 5, is Ennio Morricone, who will conduct the Sinfonietta di Roma orchestra and choir for a career-spanning repertoire titled «Music for the Cinema.» The old theater will also host jazz performances, on July 10 and 11, by two big bands carrying the legacies of their mentors, the Duke Ellington Band and the Glenn Miller Orchestra. German artist Ute Lemper, a singer, musician, dancer, actress, model and painter, will perform at the Herod Atticus on September 28. For Hellenic Festival tickets and information call 210.928.2900. Tickets for Rockwave and all other events organized by Didi Music (Slipknot, Vaya Con Dios, Duran Duran, Franz Ferdinand, Kansas, and Iron Maiden) are now available at Tickethouse: tel 210.360.8366 (Athens) and 2310.253.630 (Thessaloniki).