Concert dates trickling through

It has been one of the most subdued winter seasons in terms of imported concert activity, a stark contrast to last summer’s loaded agenda of shows – perhaps too many, considering the domestic market’s size and spending potential. A considerable number of those summer events did not fare well financially, which has probably proven detrimental to the wintertime business aspirations of local concert organizers. Some announcements, however, have trickled through for the coming weeks and months. But, come summertime, it remains to be seen whether the concert agenda will be anywhere near as densely packed as it was last year. Imminent events include performances by indie-rock icon Kristin Hersh, formerly of the Throwing Muses, Michael Nyman, best known for his emblematic soundtrack work, and the veteran act Marianne Faithfull. Bookings for spring and beyond – concertgoers should remain apprehensive of date changes or even cancellations here – include the whimsical indie-folk duo CocoRosie, preparing for a quick return to Athens after a strong show last summer, the long-running indie-rock act Dinosaur Jr, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, as well as Mark Knopfler, the former frontman of Dire Straits, who has put out a number of worthy solo albums since the demise of his chart-topping rock group of the late 70s and 80s. Promoters have also announced dates for three giants of the hard-rock field, the domestic market’s most reliable and consistent crowd-puller for entrepreneurs seeking a safer investment. The hard-rock parade is scheduled to begin on May 18 when Kiss, a sensation of the 70s that is still going, has been booked to perform at Terra Vibe on the outskirts of northern Athens. Then, moving well into the summer, the Karaiskaki soccer stadium in Neo Faliron, southern Athens, which is also developing into an arena-rock venue, will host a double-header with Def Leppard and Whitesnake on July 1. Iron Maiden have been booked for a show at Terra Vibe about a month later, on August 2. Hersh, who fronted the Throwing Muses, a pivotal American indie-rock act of the 80s and early 90s and has since put out a number of interesting solo albums, performs at the Kyttaro club in Athens on March 27. It rates as a definite highlight, irrespective of the sluggish concert activity here this winter. Though her former band’s work did draw a considerable following, Hersh’s debut solo effort, 1994’s «Hips and Makers,» an eerie all-acoustic effort, sold more copies than any other Throwing Muses releases, mostly because of major airplay for the song «Your Ghost,» a duet featuring Hersh and REM’s Michael Stipe. Nyman, who has provided the soundtracks to films by Peter Greenaway, including 1988’s «Drowning By Numbers,» 1989’s «The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover,» and 1991’s «Prospero’s Books,» as well as Jane Campion’s «The Piano» a year later, performs at the Greek capital’s Badminton Theater on March 4. Faithfull returns to Athens after a number of shows over the past decade for a night at the Pallas Theater on March 13. CocoRosie, a prime act on the booming indie-folk circuit, have been slated for the Gagarin club on May 16. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, regular visitors here for over two decades, are expected in Athens at the open-air Lycabettus Theater on June 7, for the final night of a European tour that begins in Lisbon this April. The act, which is now set to release a new album, «Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!» also plays Thessaloniki’s Lazariston Monastery venue a night earlier. Cave’s show in Athens will coincide with a gig at the Fuzz Club in Athens by Dinosaur Jr, a band that helped bring back the sound of raw-sounding rock guitar when it appeared to be fading – at least in mainstream music – in the 80s. Knopfler, the former Dire Straits frontman, has been booked for a night at the Lycabettus Theater on June 15. Last time he performed here was in the mid-80s, with Dire Straits when they had become international chart-toppers with the hit-laden «Brothers In Arms» album. These days, Knopfler has settled for less polish to his sound, with country-blues material dominating his song book. Knopfler recently released a new solo album, «Kill to Get Crimson,» following 2006’s «All the Road Running,» a collaboration with Emmylou Harris.