CULTURE

British dance duos in Athens

For several days now, posters around town have publicized the debut show in Greece by leading British electronica act the Chemical Brothers at Freattyda Beach in Piraeus for tonight. Concertgoers, however, ought to bear in mind a last-minute change of venue and date that was announced by the event’s organizer late last week: The Chemical Brothers now play tomorrow, not at the Piraeus venue, but at Athens’s Equestrian Training Center in the Goudi district (55 Messinias) where the three-day WOMAD festival ended Sunday night. The change could prompt some confusion among fans considering attending the latest show in Athens by another British dance act, the enduring electro-pop group the Pet Shop Boys, whose performance – tomorrow, as originally scheduled, at the Technopolis venue in the Gazi district (100 Pireos) – now coincides. Meanwhile, tickets already purchased for the Chemical Brothers’ original date and venue remain valid, organizers said. The organizers attributed the change of plan to security problems encountered when latin-reggae superstar Manu Chao recently performed at the Piraeus seaside location. Fencing at the makeshift concert venue was crushed when numerous fans stormed the packed venue – with and without tickets. No incidents or injuries were reported. Returning to the Chemical Brothers, the act will headline a one-day festival, billed as «Let’s C U Dance,» whose roster also includes Constantinos Vita, the ex-leader of the defunct local electronica trio Stereo Nova, Ricardo Da Force, a member of the popular early 1990s dance act KLF, a more recent arrival, Meat Katie, and Greek act Soundforce. Tomorrow night’s first ever performance in Greece by the Chemical Brothers comes as a long overdue visit by one of the electronica scene’s most successful acts. Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands, who met and formed the Chemical Brothers a decade ago, were one of the first acts to take electronica to arena-sized venues. Their blend of a variety of influences, ranging from Public Enemy, Cabaret Voltaire, and My Bloody Valentine, created an infectious dance-rock-rap fusion that was later dubbed «big beat» as a result of the music’s remarkable lack of energy loss. Whether heard on the dance floor or the radio, the act’s sound remained equally vibrant. Simons and Rowlands, one of the few dance acts to enjoy simultaneous commercial success and critical acclaim, both in Europe and the USA, met while taking a common history course at Manchester University. Neither were locals, but both were attracted to the city for musical reasons. Rowlands enrolled because one of Britain’s leading clubs, the Hacienda, was located in Manchester, while Simons was drawn through his admiration for local new wave legends the Smiths and New Order. The duo began DJing together in the early 1990s at Manchester clubs and, after graduating from university, eventually moved back to London, where their recording activity gained momentum. By the mid-1990s, the Chemical Brothers were topping charts with albums and singles and have since played to huge venues in various parts of the world. This week’s other visiting British duo, the Pet Shop Boys, who are returning swiftly after sold-out shows two years ago, have outlasted most of their electro-pop peers that emerged in the UK in the mid-1980s. The veteran group, which has remained effervescent thanks to a versatile course that has seen it dabble with a variety of dance styles, including disco, house and techno, are touring with a brand-new album, «Release.» A new local group, Atria, will open proceedings at 9 p.m., while the Pet Shop Boys are scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. Concertgoers who instead intend to opt for the Chemical Brothers, at the «Let’s C U Dance» festival, should keep in mind that the one-day event begins early, at 6.30 p.m.