CULTURE

Cascade of touring acts this week

The promise of a fulfilling week is likely for many concertgoers, with acts of the caliber of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – featuring Australian indie veteran Ed Kuepper as the support act – Tonino Carotone, Nouvelle Vague and Dinosaur Jr all passing through for performances. Cave, nowadays a drawcard on the international circuit following years spent as a wretched fringe-scene legend, returns about a year after his previous visit, when he toured with a condensed version of his backing group, the Bad Seeds. Cave and his band play at the capital’s Lycabettus Theater on Saturday and Thessaloniki’s Lazariston Monastery a night earlier. For this tour, which comes shortly after the release of Cave’s latest album – «Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!» – the frontman will be capably assisted by his full backing lineup, mostly Australian musicians of note and all handpicked by Cave over the years. The lineup, which reads like a compilation of indie-rock history, includes Mick Harvey, the backbone of Cave’s musical adventures from day one – in the late 1970s, when the high school friends formed Boys Next Door – until now. Violinist Warren Ellis, a more recent arrival, joined the Bad Seeds in the late 90s, after having enthralled listeners with his other ongoing musical concern, Dirty Three, a violin-led instrumental trio that toured here for the third time last summer. Cave, it has been written, was a major fan of Dirty Three, following the trio up and down the Australian east coast during its early touring days in the mid-90s. Cave and Ellis seem to have found a deep personal match in each other. If the stage antics between the two – including non-contact karate kicks at each other and shoulder-to-shoulder pushing – are not an indicator of their special bond, then the accumulating body of work between the two certainly is. Besides their regular Bad Seeds material, the duo has composed soundtrack work, the most recent being last year’s western drama «The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,» starring Brad Pitt. Cave and Ellis also featured in Grinderman, a Bad Seeds side project last year with Jim Sclavunos and Martyn Casey. Casey, a bassist, joined the Bad Seeds in the early 90s, around the time his former band, the Triffids, decided to end their wonderful yet extremely underrated musical adventures. Casey reunited with his old Triffids pals earlier this year for a series of shows in Sydney as a tribute to the band’s truly gifted singer-songwriter David McComb, who passed away in 1999 at the age of 36. Cave and the Bad Seeds will be supported by Ed Kuepper, formerly of the Saints, an influential punk act from Brisbane that became one of the first Australian bands to relocate to the UK in the late 70s. Kuepper, who quit the Saints in 1979 after ties with the singer and co-songwriter Chris Bailey fell apart, went on to form an avant-garde outfit with a punk-jazz sound, Laughing Clowns, for a number of albums, and has since pursued a prolific solo career. He will be backed by old collaborator Jeffrey Wegener, a respected Australian drummer who worked with Kuepper in the Saints, Laughing Clowns, and even spent a brief period with Cave for his early 80s band the Birthday Party. Also playing Saturday, Dinosaur Jr, an influential American act, will be at the Polis Theater. Led by J. Mascis, the band, along with a number of peers such as the Pixies and Sonic Youth, helped snap rock music out of a banal and complacent state in the 80s. Besides helping revive rock music, underground bands of this era also deserve credit for their determination and resilience. At the time, the indie scene was not a style, as it has become, but meant being excluded from the industry. So these spirited yet mostly neglected little bands – there were many of them, too many to mention – were true survivors. Nouvelle Vague, a recent unanticipated success story from France, perform tomorrow at the Petras Theater in Athens and at Thessaloniki’s Principal Theater on Thursday. The band emerged in 2004 with a self-titled album of radically reworked covers of songs from the new wave/punk era. The act’s playful but reverent renditions of gloomy, angry songs, such as the Clash’s «Guns of Brixton» or Joy Division’s «Love Will Tear Us Apart,» eventually aroused curiosity. In Greece the band, which failed to get a local distribution deal, developed a reputation as impressed listeners began copying and passing on the debut CD to friends. Three more releases have followed. Also this week, the cult Basque musician Tonino Carotone, accompanied by his band Arpioni, returns to Greece for his spicy Med-ska-punk sounds at the El Pecado club (14 Karamanli, tel 210.895.9645) tomorrow and Thursday.