CULTURE

Prince slated for an Athens gig next month

This has been a summer of too many concert cancellations for the domestic circuit, undermining the credibility of announcements for forthcoming events. Shows by the pop idols Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez were both canceled, presumably because advance ticket sales never really got off the ground. For the organizers, who had arranged to stage the productions at ambitious venues, the market demand did not live up to the hype surrounding the stars. Then, in a far bigger setback, the popular, resilient and iconic Rolling Stones canceled their Athens date after initially postponing. This entrepreneurial collapse was not the consequence of poor sales, but guitarist Keith Richards’s nasty tumble from a tree somewhere on a South Pacific island, which required surgery and recuperation time. When the aging yet energetic, tree-climbing rocker bid farewell to the hospital doctors and nurses in New Zealand, where Richards underwent surgery, it was decided that the group’s massive touring schedule would need to be pruned. For fans in Athens as well as several other European cities, the band’s eagerly anticipated visit ended up being a no-show. Latin pop star Shakira did make it here, pleasing her extensive local following of teenage fans and their accompanying parents. Not your typical conveyor-belt pop star, the top-selling Colombian-Lebanese artist maintains considerable artistic control over her work, and she plays decent guitar, too, as was reported from her Athens show, for which she used a glitter-shaded Stratocaster as her tool. At a news conference preceding the show, the pop star even took a anti-war stand on the current conflict in the Middle East. Though Shakira performed here at the height of her fame, the letdown of the other concert cancellations has left people wondering if Prince will really show up in Athens for a September 25 concert at the Lycabettus Theater, as was announced just days ago. No further information has been provided. The American musician, whose fabulous fusion of funk, pop and rock as well as his sex-charged image turned him into both a superstar and widely respected artist throughout the 1980s and early 90s, has not been in the spotlight of the music world in the past decade or so as his eccentricities pulled him into the fringes. Still, he has continued to be prolific in the recording studio and has recently rediscovered his touch for wooing the masses. Prince’s 2004 release, «Musicology,» became his first album to reach the Billboard Top 10 since 1995’s «The Gold Experience.» Its follow-up, this year’s «3121» finds the now-48-year-old musician in fine form again. He may no longer be breaking new ground, but Prince’s last couple of album outings have reinjected purpose into his songwriting and recording. Time will tell whether this tiny but mighty performer with a reputation for offering thrilling performances will be in Athens for that September 25 date. It would be his first visit here, so public demand is unlikely to be a hindrance. But Prince is known to be a mischievous man, and there are many days and nights ahead of that late-September booking. Stand by for more.