CULTURE

Greek capital all set for busiest week of summer’s concert agenda

Judging by the number of shows scheduled for Athens and its outskirts over the next few days – both at venues and on the streets – this could well be the summer’s busiest concert week. There’s the Rockwave festival, which begins Friday with main acts including Sonic Youth, Moby, Black Sabbath and Marilyn Manson; the aging «new romantics» Duran Duran; the Soweto Gospel Choir, a major South African music-and-dance production that has packed in fans around the world, and, finally, European Music Day, to be celebrated by an abundance of acts, Greek and foreign, over three days at various points around downtown Athens. The Soweto Gospel Choir, an ambitious production of gospel music hailing from the ghettos of South Africa, will be in Athens for three performances, this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the open-air Lycabettus Theater, following countless immensely well-received shows in various parts of the world. Made up of over 30 members, the Soweto Gospel Choir reflects South African tradition, or, more specifically, that of Soweto, a township on Johannesburg’s periphery. This extremely popular touring act’s work is rich in melody, expression, rhythm, and positive energy. It fuses gospel, soul, Zulu hymns, Afro-American spirituals, urban township songs, ska and reggae for a dynamic and colorful stage show. South Africa has a rich vocal and choral tradition that has gained international exposure more recently with the popularity of artists such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Black Umfolozi. Responding to South Africa’s dramatic AIDS problem, the Soweto Gospel Choir contributes a percentage of its performance fees to institutions working for the cause. Fees from the act’s three shows in Athens will also be added to those funds. Back for yet another summer, the long-running Rockwave festival – to be held on the outskirts of Athens, at Terra Vibe in Malakassa, some 30 kilometers north of Athens – will be held in two rounds for the first time. The festival’s first round begins this Friday with «shock rocker» Marilyn Manson as the headline act. Also on the opening night’s bill are Garbage, back for their second Rockwave appearance, as well as local pop-rock band Matisse. Hard-rock legends Black Sabbath, with original frontman Ozzy Osbourne on board, headline the festival’s second day on Saturday. Also on the agenda for the day are Velvet Revolver, a recently formed act featuring former Guns’n’Roses members, as well as Black Label Society. Day 3, Sunday, features one of the festival’s most frequent performers, Moby, as well as the New York experimental post-punk band Sonic Youth, in Greece for the third time, including a previous Rockwave appearance. Also on Sunday’s bill are Secret Machines, British Sea Power, and local band Sigmatropic. Rockwave then takes an extended break and returns for two days of heavy metal on July 8 and 9 with Slayer and Twisted Sister as the main acts. While on the subject of heavy metal, veteran rockers Iron Maiden return to Greece for one show tonight at the Terra Vibe venue, where Rockwave will also be staged. Also at Terra Vibe a couple of nights later, on Thursday, Duran Duran, the top-selling pop band of the ’80s that had teenage female fans in hysterics in their heyday, will be performing their greatest hits as well as material off last year’s release, «Astronaut.» The show was originally intended for the Lycabettus Theater but an overwhelming response for tickets prompted the event’s organizer to transfer the show to the larger Terra Vibe venue. Subsequently, fans who bought tickets for the downtown open-air theater won’t need to head up the venue’s steep hill, but will need to cover quite a distance to get to the relatively distant Malakassa. Fans heading out there for the Rockwave festival, Iron Maiden, and Duran Duran should keep in mind that Di-Di Music, the promoter of all three events, has issued a statement warning that no cameras, video cameras or recording devices will be permitted. (There was no mention of photo-taking mobile phones.) Back in the heart of Athens, European Music Day, a growing event with origins in France, will be celebrated over three days here with shows at various points around the capital. An abundance of acts, domestic and imported, will be performing. The three-day agenda includes standout visiting acts Mory Kante and Nouvelle Vague. Worthy local performers include electronica act Michalis Delta, as well as Yiannis Angelakas and Nikos Veliotis. Locations for the shows include Syntagma Square, the Technopolis complex in Gazi, Kotzia Square, Klafthmonos Square, Mavili Square, the National Gardens, Thiseion, the French Institute and the Athens Concert Hall. For detailed schedules, log on to the website www.musicday.gr.