Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Grinderman, live @ TerraVibe Park (Athens, July 6, 2011)

The TerraVibe Park gig was Nick Cave’s first ever visit to Greece with Grinderman, but his overall number of visits here since his early days with The Birthday Party is in the double digits. Although I didn’t have the privilege to be at one of his chaotic early '80s gigs, I have been to all of the Athens Bad Seeds shows since 1987 and taking into consideration the number of times I’ve seen him abroad (read here about my first Grinderman experience in Madrid), my encounters with Nick Cave and his tremendous bands have also reached a double figure by now.

His consistently amazing musical output is a good enough reason to go see a Nick Cave gig in every available opportunity, but what really makes his shows unmissable is his unique showmanship that seems to defy the passage of time. Every single one of his gigs over the years has been a one-of-a-kind experience and Grinderman’s primal blues-punk show last Wednesday was no exception.

Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man” that kicked off the set just after 9:30 was the equivalent of a test drive to see how quickly the band can go from 0 to 100. With “Worm Tamer” that followed, the intensity and ferociousness of the performance had already reached maximum levels and Cave was literally airborne; barely a minute into the song, Cave was singing among the adoring fans after performing a perfect, Iggy Pop-style, stage-dive.

Although the moon was far from full, Cave’s performance remained wild throughout the hour and a half set, in touch with his (frequently mentioned in the new songs) inner wolfman, while Ellis, Casey και Sclavounos followed suit, providing the rock solid support. By the end of the breathtaking 11-song main set we had already got all of  “Grinderman 2” minus one track, plus three of the first album’s highlights (“Get It On”, “Honey Bee (Let's Fly to Mars)” and “No Pussy Blues”). The encore kicked off relatively calmly with “Palaces of Montezuma” to complete the presentation of the new work and escalated to new heights with tracks off their classic debut, culminating with the dedicated to Athens “Love Bomb” and the slow burning blues of “Grinderman”, the band’s signature tune. “See you all again sometime” was Cave’s final words as he left the stage and it goes without saying that I’m already looking forward to it. I hear that it’s not long before the next Bad Seeds record!

 Support for the show came from local act The Callas, who played in front of a relatively small crowd (the show took place several kilometers outside of Athens and the majority of the fans couldn’t make it there early). The band’s material, a mix of Pixies-style rockers with minimal '60s garage tunes, is not characterized by its variety, but its tenacity is admirable and in the occasions that they manage to get the balance of their ingredients just right, the result is some of the finest moments of the local indie scene.

The Callas
Here's Grinderman's full set:

Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man, Worm Tamer, Get It On, Heathen Child, Evil, When My Baby Comes, What I Know, Honey Bee (Let's Fly to Mars), Kitchenette, No Pussy Blues, Bellringer Blues.

Encore: Palaces of Montezuma, Man in the Moon, When My Love Comes Down, Love Bomb, Grinderman

Grinderman - Get It On (live @ TerraVibe Park (July 6, 2011)

And here is the greek version of this review with more photos.

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