CULTURE

Long weekend of rock‘n’roll with three worthy acts in as many nights

A long weekend of indie rock is coming up with three consecutive nights of worthy shows, all at the same venue, the Gagarin Club, Friday through Sunday. A quiet achiever, Mick Harvey, begins the three-night run’s proceedings on Friday. Veteran punk-pop band the Buzzcocks follow on Saturday, and grunge rock survivor Mudhoney end it all on Sunday night. Harvey, here for his first solo show in Greece, has spent over three decades working mostly under the shadow of his charismatic and, at times, provocative – especially in earlier years – band leader Nick Cave. There have been countless visits here in the past, alongside Cave as frontman of the Bad Seeds and this ongoing act’s precursor, the art-punk band Birthday Party. Harvey and Cave, who met back in high school in Melbourne, Australia, had already joined forces several years before their Birthday Party project evolved into what they dubbed the Bad Seeds, as members of the Boys Next Door, the inseparable duo’s first band. If Cave has, on occasion, been the reckless and controversial member – at least publicly – of these three aforementioned acts, then Harvey has stood quietly to the side as the anchor man who helped keep it all together during times of turbulence. (A journalist for a local music magazine recently published a story recalling a fiery backstage incident during one of the very first Bad Seeds shows in Athens in the mid-80s, at a pint-sized dive of a club. Shocked by the sight of an out-of-control Cave smashing objects around him, the journalist asked then-band member Barry Adamson, who had stood calmly to the side, what the fuss was all about. «Nick is a great artist but also a great asshole,» the local journalist quoted Adamson as replying.) Returning to Harvey, musically he has filled virtually every post with the various Cave-related bands, including drumming, guitar, bass and production work. On the side, Harvey has managed to put together some solo work, soundtrack albums and two tribute albums featuring English-language versions of songs by the late French provocateur Serge Gainsbourg. Harvey has also contributed to numerous albums by others, including PJ Harvey, the Cruel Sea, as well as a solo effort by Robert Forster of the Go-Betweens – a band which, according to Forster, is no longer, following last week’s shock death of co-founder Grant McLennan, aged 48, a very sad story in itself. Following on from Harvey, veteran Manchester punk-pop band the Buzzcocks take over the Gagarin club’s stage on Saturday night for a performance being billed as an antidote for the Eurovision pop music contest, to be hosted in Athens over the same weekend. The Buzzcocks could not be further away from the pan-European glitz-pop extravaganza. Formed back in the mid-70s through a common devotion to unconventional acts such as the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, the Buzzcocks essentially discovered the musical path they would eventually follow after seeing the Sex Pistols perform in London in 1976. The dynamic British act went on to help influence numerous succeeding acts, among them Nirvana and Franz Ferdinand. The evening’s main act will be preceded by two local bands, Deus Ex Machina and Teanheat. Mudhoney, who play at the Gagarin Club on Sunday, were formed in 1988 from the remains of the act’s precursor, Green River. The Seattle-band’s formation arrived not long before the city’s imminent and explosive «grunge» scene, which Mudhoney were a fundamental part of. They are currently touring with a brand new album, «Under a Billion Suns.»