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PJ Harvey, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Slowdive, Closer, The Noise Figures, Release Athens Day 3, Πλατεία Νερού, Athens, 7-6-2016


Last Updated on 01:55 PM by Giorgos Tsekas

I don’t know if people were anxious about whether it was going to rain that night at Plateia Nerou (Water Square), but I think that even such a possibility (which was spared eventually) wouldn’t leave room to create obstacles to a live performance that was long expected.

NoiseFigures began playing from early afternoon, a duet of drums and guitar that gave its best self to play well, to an audience that needed time to warm up. Although two people (I think that there were some bass lines pre – recorded though… or my ears were playing tricks) they had great volume. Additionally, they were both singing, which added several sounds in their tracks. As far as their songs go, I picked out their new track ‘Feathers’. Synthetically, there were some very good points, such as some bridges, connection modes of the structures and stand-out riffs. Generally, you won’t find any particular originality in their music, but I don’t think this is their aim either. However, it is good what they have done. If I could ask more, since they are good players, I would ask of them to let loose; not on stage, just musically.

Then came Closer. Here I underwent an internal conflict. It seems that the band has thrown a lot of work and ideas in what they attempt to do (they have violin, their compositions are not simplistic, danced and gave everything onstage, their vocals were not conventional in a sense –they were somewhat more deducted.) If I needed something more, that would be to have drifted a little more on the changes they made in terms of expressiveness and atmospheric themes, to have stood petrified with their psychedelia. This was not done and many reasons may have caused this, e.g. still it was a little difficult to concentrate on the gig, since the crowd was coming and going constantly, while the fluctuation of the instruments’ sound and the vocals’ volume weren’t proportionate or thoughtful. These might be details, however the band is in a very good road and even the graphics on the video wall reveal a band that leaves nothing to chance.

Time was ripe for Slowdive. I felt like the band was booked to play until the end of the entire festival. I felt they were playing for long hours. As a band though, I feel that they have mastered the genre / style they chose to serve. Rock / alternative psychedelia, with ethereal male and female vocals, tracks written in the same tempo, a silkiness that if you cannot take it, you’ll go to hell. Nonetheless, the boats floating around, Slowdive’s liability (literally a slow dive) could make you drift, even if you weren’t a fan of this musical style.

Later, the scene was given to The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Although the audience seemed to expect them, the band itself seemed a little tired. Of course, better tired than drunk. I think they knew their job there. I loved the effortless vocals, the essential rhythm section, rock solos that had reason to exist. It is very strange that for example the band’s drummer sweated up there to bring results in a music that seemed fitting as the best companion for lighting a cigarette. The lazy melodies, the glorification of futile emotion and the tambourine seemed to satisfy those who had chosen to be there and applaud them.

Everything seemed to reach their full limit, yet the festival wasn’t over yet. That’s when I forgot my name, where I was, why I was there, why do I exist. PJ Harvey went up on stage with her band, playing the sax while the guitar was playing a marching intro, bringing us to our faces the last version of herself, the one she promotes with her latest record. With an elvish haircut, with a wreath in her hair reminiscent of Christian parables, dressed almost like Jesus in black, with jerky dance moves and an apathy gaze and tranquility, proved that all this cannot cover her flawless, impeccable, perfectly right and extreme, rock voice. I think she protects her vocal capabilities like an heirloom. I also loved the way she made pictures singing the words with her hands (especially the word ‘words’ seemed like it was coming out her neck). In fact, she almost not talked to us all. She said “I want you to meet my band” and a “thank you” after the encore. As if, if she spoke a little more, she would have spoiled the night, as if many words would corrupt her sophistication and refined introversion. Returning to the terrestrial human appetites, there was a bit of resentment as we didn’t listen to any of her older, more punk, songs, (just Bring you my love and Down by the Water). Even if she knew what the crowd wanted, she wouldn’t have changed her set, meaning a shift at most atmospheric folk- perhaps avant- garde style. Despite what was whispered, it was an achievement to hear the silence of the crowd the moments she wouldn’t sing, in between the tracks, as if the crowd was frozen before her.  Her setlist: Chain of Keys, The Ministry of Defence, The Community of Hope, A Line in the Sand, The Orange Monkey, Let England Shake, The Words That Make the Murder, The GloriousL and, Medicinals, When Under Ether, Dollar, Dollar, The Wheel, The Ministry of Social Affairs, 50ft Queenie, Down by the Water, To Bring You My Love, River Anacostia.

Just for the record, after such gigs, I’m thinking whether the music crowd of this country can afford and attend concerts that are not likely to cause drama or to become a buzz. Even though the venue was packed until late at night, but again, it gave you – whatever price-pink sky, boats around, finally nice weather, bands playing early hours of the afternoon and of course PJ Harvey. So I think an audience that -apparently because of its choices- attends completely different events all the other times, when it’s given something like that, it feels awkward. Almost completely subconsciously the people in the crowd may be drinking their beer with the little finger raised. If that’s the case, anyhow. However, if someone wanted to cause some “trouble” or lose their shirt or ride anyone else, I would have accepted that. Besides, it was Tuesday, the next day everybody would return to the routine reality and work; well, those who do have a job to be fair.


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