Out of hiding and under the stage lights for concerts this week

Local fusion band Mode Plagal, whose convincing blend of Greek folk – from various parts of the country – with an assortment of imported styles, including rock, funk, jazz and calypso, has established it as a pivotal band here, will perform two shows in Athens this week following an extended absence from the capital’s circuit, presumably due to the individual commitments by the band’s talented members with other performers. The two shows, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Alavastro Cafe (78 Damareos, Pangrati, tel 210.756.0102), rate among the most interesting in Athens over the next few days. Also later this week, the UK band Television Personalities, one of the New Wave era’s most erratic cases, as highlighted by the lengthy disappearance of frontman Dan Treacy, are scheduled to perform three shows, beginning with Thessaloniki’s Principal Club Theater on Friday. They also will do two shows in Athens over the weekend, at the Gagarin Club (205 Liosion) on Saturday and a smaller unplugged show the following night at the far smaller Tiki Bar (ex-Deluxe) in Koukaki (15 Falirou, tel 210.923.6908). The upcoming agenda also includes Sue Moreno, a Dutch rockabilly and old-school rock’n’roll performer, at the Blue Fox Cafe (91 Asclepiou, Exarchia) this Friday night. Mode Plagal, an Athens-based act, formed in 1990 from a looser collective of musicians who had worked together in various combinations. The initial lineup, a trio comprising saxophonist Thodoris Rellos, guitarist Kleon Antoniou, and drummer Takis Kanellos, began forging its Greek folk-fusion sound which led to a self-titled debut album five years later, in 1995, with guests on board including Antonis Maratos, who went on to become a permanent member on electric bass. Released on an independent Thessaloniki label, Ano Kato Records, the album generated an impressive response from critics both here and abroad. The widely read US magazine Modern Drummer’s response – «’Mode Plagal’ is hipper than any American record I’ve heard in a long time… they make a case for fusion that might have saved the genre 20 years ago…» – helped encourage the Greek band to look for openings abroad. Its follow-up album, «Mode Plagal II,» released three years later by Lyra, the country’s biggest, at the time, independent label, further augmented Mode Plagal’s style and charted in 96th place on the WMCE (World Music Charts Europe) for the year 2000. The chart is based on votes from a network of radio producers around Europe. Around this time, the band began venturing abroad for sporadic shows, mostly around Europe. There was also a performance in Damascus, Syria, at a jazz festival. Kanellos, in an older interview, likened the audience’s behavior to that of a soccer crowd. «Every time one of us completed a solo, there’d be a wild and abrupt response from the crowd, like a goal had been scored, which puzzled us a bit in the beginning,» he recalled. «Mode Plagal III,» released in 2002, faired even better than its predecessor on the WMCE chart, reaching No 33 for the year. Unlike the previous two albums, which were mostly instrumental with occasional vocal performances by the band’s members, «Mode Plagal III» included contributions from four female singers, the renowned vocal instrumentalist Savina Yannatou, the traditional singer Yiota Vei, as well as two more pop-inclined performers, Eleni Tsaligopoulou and Theodosia Tsatsou. «Mode Plagal III» was followed by a two-band collaborative effort a year later, «Beyond the Bosporus,» with Bosporus, a traditional group from Turkey, led by Istanbul-based Greek artist Nikiforos Metaxas as the artistic director. The joint effort included compositions from members of both acts. It has now been four years since this release, Mode Plagal’s most recent recorded output. The visit by the New Wave era’s Television Personalities, also set to perform later this week, comes following a canceled date last year. Local fans will be eager to see the influential act, whose far-reaching style, ranging from pop to psychedelia, has influenced a considerable number of bands. A steady supply of albums, from 1979’s «Bill Grundy» to 1998’s «Don’t Cry Baby… It’s Only a Movie,» came to a halt when Treacy, the group’s singer and songwriter, went missing. Rumors of mental illness, drug abuse, homelessness and even death abounded as the years went by without a trace of the musician. Then, in 2004, he wrote a letter to an old friend disclosing that he was confined on a prison boat in Dorset. Treacy was released later that year and resurrected his old band. Shows were followed by a comeback album, 2006’s «My Dark Places,» on the influential British label Domino. It was followed by another album that year, «It’s All About the Girl.» The band’s Athens show at the Gagarin Club will be opened by the local indie-rock guitar-drums duo the Callas comprising brothers Lakis and Aris Ioannas.