GREECE IS THE WORD! — Diary by Hillary from Greece
April 11, 2003
Rodon Club Athens April 4
Well Mike has asked me to write this Diary as he has jetted off to York for Ringo’s wedding, so here it is, from an Internet cafe in sunny Athens.
Getting places in Athens is unusual, because you can’t hail a taxi – you have to yell at it and beg it for a ride as it zooms past or try to trap one at a traffic light, but the first one I saw nodded as I bleated RODON! through the traffic noise, so it looked to be a good night. The Rodon doorway looks like a racetrack entrance: a turnstile-type entry and no sexy flashing neon, but inside it was chock-full of Greeks ready to rock… slightly straight-looking student types but definitely the real thing – these guys knew every word to every song.
No warmup act, no warmup needed, just huge cheers when the band strolled out. I’m bad on titles so don’t expect accuracy but Arthur’s voice, especially on Old Man, was truly spectacular, sweet and warm, and he was happy and relaxed, having fun….when they yelled for “She Comes in Colours” he yelled back “No she doesn’t!”. This was an FC concert, and much respect goes to the orchestra, especially the brass, who took over at fairly short notice from Stefan & co…Arthur turned and did some very elegant and fairly convincing conducting at one point, but they were flying on it anyway, bouncing and dancing as they played.
Well, sadly for the diaries, you never get to hear much about one of the real high points of these shows, as Mike can never say how brilliant he was but I’m here to remedy that, and you have to know that he was on fire and he played like an angel, true genius on DC and Live and Let Live and any time he was let loose. No sign of having been up at three for one of the worst journeys of the tour (and apparently there was serious competition for first place). How do they do it? How does it feel when you hit the stage in a strange city and there’s an audience who all want Your Best Tonight and you slept on a plane last night dammit and you’re shot through with foreign McDonalds (even worse than home-grown) and your socks have rigor mortis and your girlfriend wasn’t there to give you warm hugs? Remember that line from Butch Cassidy where the posse keeps on coming despite being shot at or whatever, and Robert Redford can’t believe that they just keep turning up, ready to fight no matter what? And he says, wonderingly: “Who ARE these guys?” Well, they must have been musicians, is all I can say.
Mike if I’d known you were going to ask for this I’d have concentrated on noting and remembering, but the truth is that enjoying took up all my brain space. What else do I remember? Mike zinging smouldering picks into the crowd as he wore each one out, everyone dancing in the no-space-to-dance at the front, a truly hot, wild atmosphere that ignited the band, especially Mike (here I go again) and very clean, tight sound quality. The Greeks weren’t taking ‘no’ for an answer at the end, so they came back and ripped into 7+7 is, which drove the crowd wild. At the end Arthur got down and shook hands with loads of front-liners – looked to me like someone grabbed his maraccas (excuse me??!!) at that point, but I couldn’t see clearly.
After the show even Mike’s silver tongue couldn’t get the sour bartender at their hotel to stay open, so we bought some wine and beer and went up to sit on the roof by the pool; Anna, Mike, Rusty, Dave, Glen and Peter and Kose, chewing the fat and looking out on beautiful Lykavittos Hill. Not enough booze to tempt anyone to jump into the (drained) pool, but enough to unwind with. When the rain came we hung out indoors and then a few of us went out to help Mike on his eternal get-me-a-kebab search, but in Athens – home of the kebab! – you cannot find one late at night, unless you count the skunky-looking roadside kebab joint we steered Mike away from by telling him it smelled like burning horse…..picture Mike saying wistfully “But the smelly ones are usually the best”. The only place we could find open sold sandwiches and – hey ! beer! – so that was some consolation. Ready for sleep by 5 and yesterday the band headed back to London for Ringo’s wedding, leaving Athens echoing. Hope you have better luck finding your kebab there, Mike, and thanks so so much for letting me write the Diary…what an honour.