Friday, November 28, 2008

Exhibition about the Press in German occupied Greece

On November 15th, at the exhibitional space of the Educational Institute of the Union of Daily Newspapers of Macedonia-Thrace Editors (1 Morgenthau Str., Thessaloniki), the exhibition of documents titled "National Resistance 1941-1944, Illegal Press in Northern Greece" was inaugurated.

During the extraordinary conditions of the triple occupation (German, Italian and Bulgarian), the resistance newspapers were set up under absolute secrecy and plotting. Underground spaces were turned into secret printing shops and within the most impossible circumstances, reporters and typographers worked endangering their lives. With spare materials and improvised machinery, they produced varied resistance material like leaflets, brochures and declarations.

The distributors were important too, thinking of every possible method to avoid discovery. The information for the news content of the publications were derived from voice radio and foreign radio broadcasts and the articles aimed at improving the people's morale and reporting the criminal activity of the occupation forces. Two of the most important newspapers of the era in Macedonia were "Eleftheria" (Freedom) and "Laiki Foni" (Popular Voice), and many were the personalities that contributed to the resistance press.

The visitor of this exhibition is transported not only in the era but also the conditions into which the people of illegal printing shops worked. An underground atmosphere, small and under-lit spaces, separated with improvised structures, and in a corner, under the lamp light, an illegal printing press continuous its work in silence.

On the ground, a table set up with printing tools, the worn out shoes and a newspaper hidden in the jacket of a distributor. The colours red, black and brown, rough and worn materials, raw pictures and words. On the opposite side of the resistance press stands the other side: the Nazi-friendly press. And all this taking place under the shadow of the conqueror...

The show will stay open for two months. And you know what? It is free!!! So do not miss it! I had a small part in all of this: One of the displays is about Manolis Anagnostakis, the famous Greek poet, as he played a part in the resistance and particularly the press. So I had to watch an interview he gave to Greek National Television many years ago, find the parts of it relevant to the exhibition and supervise the final video, which is looped on the only screen on display:

Organizing committee: Christos Zafiris, Elias Koutsoukos, Dimitris Dozis, Yiannis Kotsifos
Design and execution: Tetragon Ltd. - Supervisor: Eleni Vretzaki
Graphic Design: Thanassis Georgiou
Texts: Christos Zafiris

The text above was originally written by architect Zoi Evangelopoulou and translated by me.

All photos by the wonderful Dinos Mihail.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Muzine One Year Birthday Party in Thessaloniki

The most beautiful and well written Greek music magazine, Muzine, reached its sixth bi-monthly issue - so it's birthday time! One year since it first came out, introducing lots of great new artists to us and filling our CD players with lovely music from the two CDs packed in each issue. Three parties in three different cities (Thessaloniki 20/11, Patra 22/11 and Athens 23/11) mark the occasion, with concerts by artists featured in the magazine like Limousine and Plumerai. Thessaloniki had the joy to welcome for the first time in Europe the Boston group Plumerai, along with locals Jane Doe and Berlin Brides from Athens. After the concert, Elias Fragoulis was scheduled to keep the party going deep into the night. This event was made possible within Thessaloniki's International Film Festival and Independence Days

Jane Doe (above) opened the concert, after a lengthy (and honestly annoying after a while) sound check by the three bands - sound kept being problematic throughout the evening, with monitors not working, microphones screeching, a thing that did not help the groups at all. The rock group from our home town gave a very good performance, and even though they sounded a bit too hard for my taste, the last two songs were brilliant. I think we are going to see more of them in the future.

Then it was Plumerai time. The US band was in Europe for the very first time and lucky us were the first ones to catch a glimpse of them playing their first live concert here. And what a concert it was! The band is very tight, and with the addition of an excellent and very energetic violinist (hi Laura!) gave us the best performance of the night by far! They played almost their whole album "Without Number", making us all dance to their melodies and their beats. The singer, Elizabeth Ezell, alternating from sex kitten to pop goddess to rock nymph, enthralled us with her unusual husky voice and sassy moves - that smile of hers can move mountains!

Guitarist Martin Newman made his guitar sing, wail and scream, giving an edge to the band's music. The amazing and very cool James Newman on bass punctuated the rhythm with gusto, being helped by the swinging Todd Richards on drums. The shoegazing post pop (God I hate labels but what else can you call them?) music stayed in our ears long after their gig ended. Thankfully, their cd was sold at the Muzine counter along with their latest offering, a split 7" vinyl single with a new song of theirs (Vacant Eyes - they share sides with another US band, The Brother Kite), which of course I bought!

I was extremely lucky to meet the band before the concert, and had them sign the CD for me (forgetting Laura, stupid me) and got to talk with Martin after the gig again. He said that he grew up in Germany, and had travelled around Europe before, but it was Plumerai's first time abroad. He liked the Greek audience, found it very warm and accepting, and was happy to hear me telling him that people in the audience loved their set and thought them brilliant. They had not played live in almost a month, and they are in the process of releasing a free mp3 single from their website. They have new material ready for recording, which should be due to start by January. I must say I am anxious to listen to it!

The venue, although not ideal for a music performance, is so beautiful (an old unused port storage building turned into a cultural centre, housing each November the reception areas and stands of Thessaloniki's International Film Festival) that, along with Plumerai's lovely music made us forget the bad sound. We were sorry that it could not last more! I do hope we see them again here soon (Nek, are you reading this?)

And soon it was time for Berlin Brides. The all-girl Athens foursome burst onto the stage to a very expectant audience (I heard lots of people saying they had come just for them) and gave us their punk oriented electro music. I must say I was expecting something better; I was disappointed listening to them They have some nice song ideas but they get lost in the middle of bad vocals and fuzzy sound effects. If they work their stuff a bit more, they might hit their stride, I will pass for now.

(Berlin Brides photos by the brilliant Miss Tati!)

Of course, after the end of the Brides gig, we had another treat: the great DJ from Athens, Elias Fragoulis, gave us one of his brilliant DJ sets, making people dance till the wee hours of the morning. Elias, pleas come more often here to play (or I must visit Athens more frequently).

I must thank Nektarios from Muzine for the hospitality and the introduction to Plumerai. The party was great and I hope it will be repeated next year. I wish the next two gigs at Patra and Athens are this good! Don't miss them!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Prisoners in Greek prisons are deprived of basic human rights and dignity as human beings. This has led to an unprecedented wave of hunger strikes, that has been sweeping all Greek prisons from the 3rd of November, whereas the mainstream media hold total silence on the issue.

Bloggers unite and fight back for Democracy and defence of basic human rights. A call in the Greek blogosphere arises, urging every blogger simultaneously to communicate, publish or sign the following text on the 20th November :

Not in our Name

“The situation in Greek prisons is unacceptable. Radical changes in the prison system should be a first priority”.

- Karolos Papoulias, Head of State, 6/11/08

“We are human. Prisoners but still human, I tell you”.

- Vangelis Pallis, prisoner, 9/11/08

From November 3rd, all detainees in prisons throughout the country are on a hunger strike, claiming what should be respected, but is not : their lost dignity. What they face is the criminal silence of the mainstream media and the indifference of the political leadership. To this silence and political practices all we who sign this text DO NOT CONSENT.

The conditions in Greek prisons are unspeakable and may be understood only by the cold language of mathematics. In the supposedly reformatory institutions of the country a total of 417 detainee deaths were recorded over the past decade, while the rate has literally taken off to such a degree, that every month four people die in the hands of the State. Capacity in Greek prisons reaches 168% (10,113 detainees for 6019 spaces) with a ratio of minimum space for each man in some cases reaching 1square meter, while the daily public spending per prisoner is the meagre 3.60 €. Prison cells are miserable, reminiscent of medieval times and health care is almost non - existent. At the same time, the Greek judicial system sends in prison one in every thousand of the overall population, while detainees without trial (in custody) are up to the 30% of the total number of prisoners. If quality of our Democratic system of governance is characterized by its prisons, then our Democracy is in crisis. If detainment is a penalty imposed for criminal behaviours by the State in the name of society, then in the case of Greek prisons we should all be accountable and most responsible of all, the Authorities. Facing such a reality all we who sign this text respond NOT IN OUR NAME.

The data revealed by official bodies for Greek prisons outline inhuman conditions of detention. According to a recent Report of the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture (2007), has found incidents of torture and inhuman treatment of prisoners, threats against their life along with series of violations in relation to their conditions of detention, deficits in investigating and punishing the perpetrators, incidents of violence in collusion with doctors and prison-guards and unacceptable health and medical care conditions. The European Court of Human Rights has issued a series of decisions, convicting the Greek state regarding abuse and / or other rights’ violations of prisoners by prison Authorities. The Greek National Commission on Human Rights has taken a decision – catapult, noting human rights’ abuses in Greek prisons and suggesting certain direct actions to resolve them. The Greek Ombudsman complains about the lack of cooperation with competent state Authorities, causing them literally to be banned from entering the country’s prisons for the last two years. The country’s bar associations, Non-Governmental Organizations, such as Amnesty International, and many political / social institutions unanimously denounce the unacceptable conditions in Greek prisons and call for greater cooperation to overcome the problem. If human rights are to be enjoyed by every human being, depriving it of detainees in Greek prisons, is an open wound for our society. In this situation those who sign this text agree to SMASH COMMUNICATION BARRIERS BETWEEN PRISONS AND SOCIETY.

Prisoners going on hunger strikes, resort to the last bastion of resistance left to them, their own life. A month before the strikes commenced, there has been a last call to the political leadership to solve their problems, as things were getting unbearable, but nothing happened. To stop the hunger strikes, prisoners have specific, realistic and decent demands that restore their lost dignity and recover their basic human rights.As a response to Greek prisoners’ mobilization the political leadership stands in indifference, acts only to make promises for the future and to repress their movements. Nevertheless, an indifferent stance of the political leadership at this stage will certainly mean dead hunger strikers. In these circumstances we say that we cannot remain passive waiting for the news of deaths from hunger strikes but we will stand by them. If the defence of democracy and human rights require the watchfulness of all of us, now is a chance for all, to take steps away from indifference and evasions of the problem.

Faced with the tension that prevails in prisons all over the country, we who sign this text consider the political leadership fully responsible for anything that will happen and demand both institutionally and in practice that BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL PRISONERS IN THE COUNTRY ARE GUARANTEED.”

The original text is from the blog "Not In Our Name"

The Greek text is:

Με αφορμή το πρωτόγνωρο κύμα απεργιών πείνας από τους κρατούμενους στις Ελληνικές φυλακές αλλά και την εγκληματική αποσιώπησή του από τα κυρίαρχα ΜΜΕ, για τη Δημοκρατία και την προάσπιση των βασικών ανθρώπινων δικαιωμάτων καλούμε όλους όσους διατηρούν μπλογκς, διαδικτυακά φόρα και όχι μόνο να δημοσιεύσουν ταυτόχρονα και συντονισμένα στις 20 Νοεμβρίου 2008, ημέρα Πέμπτη, το παρακάτω κείμενο και όλους του χρήστες του διαδικτύου να το υπογράψουν.

Όχι στο Όνομά μας

“Είναι απαράδεκτη η κατάσταση στις ελληνικές φυλακές. Είναι κύριο θέμα η ριζική αλλαγή του σωφρονιστικού συστήματος”.

Κάρολος Παπούλιας, 6/11/08

“Είμαστε άνθρωποι – κρατούμενοι. Άνθρωποι, λέω”

- Βαγγέλης Πάλλης, Κρατούμενος, 9/11/08

Από τις τρεις Νοεμβρίου μία εκκωφαντική κραυγή συνταράσσει τα θεμέλια της Δημοκρατίας μας. Από τις τρεις Νοεμβρίου σύσσωμοι οι κρατούμενοι όλης της χώρας κατεβαίνουν σε απεργία πείνας διεκδικώντας το αυτονόητο : τη χαμένη τους αξιοπρέπεια. Απέναντί τους αντιμετωπίζουν την εκκωφαντική σιωπή των κραταιών ΜΜΕ και την παντελή αδιαφορία της πολιτικής ηγεσίας. Σε αυτές τις πρακτικές όσοι υπογράφουμε αυτό το κείμενο ΔΕ ΣΥΝΑΙΝΟΥΜΕ.

Η κατάσταση στις Ελληνικές φυλακές είναι απερίγραπτη και μπορεί να γίνει κατανοητή μόνο με τη σκληρή γλώσσα των μαθηματικών. Στα κατ’ επίφαση “σωφρονιστικά” ιδρύματα της χώρας έχουν καταγραφεί συνολικά 417 θάνατοι την τελευταία δεκαετία, ενώ ο ρυθμός τους έχει απογειωθεί σε τέτοιο σημείο, ώστε σήμερα να σβήνουν στα χέρια του κράτους τέσσερις άνθρωποι το μήνα. Η πληρότητα αγγίζει το 168% (10.113 κρατούμενοι για 6.019 θέσεις) με την αναλογία χώρου για κάθε άνθρωπο να φτάνει σε περιπτώσεις το 1τμ. Με ημερήσιο κρατικό έξοδο ανά κρατούμενο τα 3,60 Ευρώ τα συσσίτια που παρέχονται είναι άθλια, οι υποδομές θυμίζουν μεσαίωνα και η ιατροφαρμακευτική περίθαλψη είναι ελλιπέστατη. Συγχρόνως, το Ελληνικό δικαστικό σύστημα στέλνει στη φυλακή έναν στους χίλιους κατοίκους της χώρας με τους έγκλειστους χωρίς δίκη (υπό προσωρινή κράτηση) να αγγίζουν το 30% του συνολικού αριθμού των κρατουμένων. Αν η ποιότητα μίας Δημοκρατίας κρίνεται από τις φυλακές της, τότε η Δημοκρατία μας ασθμαίνει. Αν η τιμώρηση παραβατικών συμπεριφορών με εγκλεισμό γίνεται από το κράτος στο όνομα της κοινωνίας, τότε για την κατάσταση στις Ελληνικές φυλακές είμαστε όλοι υπόλογοι, με συντριπτικές όμως ευθύνες να αναλογούν στην κρατική μηχανή. Σε αυτή την πραγματικότητα όσοι υπογράφουμε αυτό το κείμενο απαντούμε ΟΧΙ ΣΤΟ ΟΝΟΜΑ ΜΑΣ.

Τα στοιχεία που αποκαλύπτονται από επίσημους φορείς για τις Ελληνικές φυλακές σκιαγραφούν εικόνα κολαστηρίων. Έκθεση της Ευρωπαϊκής Επιτροπής για την Πρόληψη των Βασανιστηρίων (2007) διαπιστώνει βασανιστήρια, απάνθρωπη μεταχείριση και απειλές κατά της ζωής κρατουμένων, σειρά παραβιάσεων αναφορικά με τις συνθήκες κράτησης, ελλείμματα στη διερεύνηση και τιμωρία των ενόχων, αποσιώπηση περιστατικών βίας με την συμπαιγνία ιατρών και φυλάκων, απαράδεκτες συνθήκες ιατρικής περίθαλψης και ιατρικού ελέγχου στους κρατούμενους κλπ. Το Ευρωπαϊκό Δικαστήριο Δικαιωμάτων του Ανθρώπου έχει εκδώσει σειρά καταδικαστικών για την Ελλάδα αποφάσεων που αφορούν κακομεταχείριση ή/και παραβιάσεις άλλων δικαιωμάτων κρατουμένων από σωφρονιστικές αρχές. Η Εθνική Επιτροπή για τα Δικαιώματα του Ανθρώπου έχει πάρει απόφαση - καταπέλτη για τα κακώς κείμενα στις φυλακές, προτείνοντας άμεσες δράσεις για την επίλυση τους. Ο Συνήγορος του Πολίτη διαμαρτύρεται για την παντελή έλλειψη συνεργασίας των αρμόδιων κρατικών φορεών μαζί του, λόγω της οποίας έχει ουσιαστικά απαγορευτεί η είσοδός του στις φυλακές της χώρας τα τελευταία δύο χρόνια. Οι δικηγορικοί σύλλογοι όλης της χώρας, μη κυβερνητικές οργανώσεις, όπως η Διεθνής Αμνηστία, και πολλοί πολιτικοί/κοινωνικοί φορείς καταγγέλλουν την απαράδεκτη κατάσταση και ζητούν ευρύτερη συνεργασία για το ξεπέρασμα του προβλήματος. Αν ανθρώπινα είναι τα δικαιώματα που πρέπει να απολαμβάνει κάθε ανθρώπινο ον, κάθε στέρησή τους στις Ελληνικές φυλακές αποτελεί ανοιχτή πληγή για την κοινωνία μας. Σε αυτή την κατάσταση όσοι υπογράφουμε αυτό το κείμενο απαντούμε ΝΑ ΣΠΑΣΕΙ ΕΠΙΤΕΛΟΥΣ ΤΟ ΑΒΑΤΟ ΤΩΝ ΦΥΛΑΚΩΝ.

Με την απεργία πείνας οι κρατούμενοι καταφεύγουν στο τελευταίο οχυρό αντίστασης, που τους έχει απομείνει, το σώμα τους. Είχε προηγηθεί έσχατη έκκλησή τους προ μηνός προς τους ιθύνοντες να ενσκήψουν στο πρόβλημα, καθώς δεν πήγαινε άλλο. Για να λύσουν την απεργία πείνας ζητούν την ικανοποίηση αιτημάτων, που αποκαθιστούν την χαμένη τους αξιοπρέπεια και επανακτούν τα βασικά ανθρώπινα δικαιώματά τους, αιτημάτων συγκεκριμένων, αξιοπρεπών και άμεσα υλοποιήσιμων. Απέναντι στις κινητοποιήσεις των κρατουμένων η πολιτική ηγεσία εξαντλεί τη δράση της σε αδιαφορία, υποσχέσεις και καταστολή των κινημάτων τους. Τυχόν αδιαφορία και αναλγησία της πολιτικής ηγεσίας όμως και σε αυτή τη φάση θα σημαίνει νεκρούς απεργούς πείνας. Στη μετωπική λοιπόν σύγκρουση που επιλέγουν οι κρατούμενοι της χώρας για τη διεκδίκηση των ανθρωπίνως αυτονόητων δε μπορούμε να μένουμε απαθείς σταυρώνοντας τα χέρια και περιμένοντας τις ειδήσεις των θανάτων από τις απεργίες πείνας αλλά θα σταθούμε αλληλέγγυοι. Αν η περιφρούρηση της δημοκρατίας και των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων επιβάλλουν την επαγρύπνιση όλων μας, τώρα είναι λοιπόν η στιγμή να πάρουμε θέση όλοι απέναντι στο πρόβλημα χωρίς αδιαφορίες και υπεκφυγές.

Απέναντι στην τεταμένη κατάσταση στις φυλακές όλης της χώρας όσοι υπογράφουμε αυτό το κείμενο καθιστούμε την πολιτική ηγεσία απολύτως υπεύθυνη για ό,τι συμβεί και απαιτούμε άμεσα την τόσο θεσμική όσο και στην πράξη ΕΓΓΥΗΣΗ ΤΩΝ ΒΑΣΙΚΩΝ ΑΝΘΡΩΠΙΝΩΝ ΔΙΚΑΙΩΜΑΤΩΝ ΤΩΝ ΚΡΑΤΟΥΜΕΝΩΝ ΟΛΗΣ ΤΗΣ ΧΩΡΑΣ.

Το κείμενο είναι αναδημοσίευση από το blog “Όχι στο όνομά μας”

photo by blackdreamercrizzu

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Panorama Design 2008

Panorama Design is probably the biggest annual design event in Greece, a conference taking place in Halandri Art Centre on the 22nd and 23rd of November and again on the 6th and 7th of December. It's a creative hive for top Greek designers from the whole spectrum of design: analysing the way they get inspired and create through case studies. The program of the conference is enriched with the presence of important foreign designers.

So what will be happening there: The first day, 22nd of November, is Adobe D-Day! Adobe, famous for their graphic design oriented software, organize this type of seminars around the world, aiming at better providing quality services to creative people around the world. So after a run of successful presentations in Europe and the Middle East, it's Greece's time to host such an event!

Then we're on to Product Design day: dedicated to the third dimension of design, it will feature presentations from well know Greek designers working both in Greece and abroad. The site says that this type of seminar is done for the first time in Greece (dealing with the creative process of product and industrial design) but it has been done in Thessaloniki also for the last three years during the Design exhibitions in January. I hope this is better organized and more practical instead of theoretical. The designers speaking will be : Konstantinos Hoursoglou (chd - Lausanne), Vassilis Mylonadis (My design, Athens), Panos Vassiliou (Lime Studio, London), Vassilis & Stathis Petropoulos (Vast Design, Athens), Evgenios Skourboutis (Athens), Thomas Mylonas (dot kite lab, Amsterdam) and Sergios Fotiadis (we design, Athens). The conference is co-ordinated by Christopher Brellis (antidot design studio).

The two days in December will be filled with the visual communications aspect of design: graphic designers, illustrators, animators, directors etc. will be speaking to attendees on a multitude of aspects of design - the Panorama as we know it from previous years. Check the list of speakers. Victor Coen and Dimitris Arvanitis stand out, but the rest of the speakers really deserve your attention too as they are well known and very creative people in their respective fields.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's a celebration!

Celebrating two things today.... first of all it's my birthday.... and also, this is my 200th post here! Party tonight for my loved ones - see you there! And to all my readers, thanks and keep reading!

Image courtesy of blurredvisions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Karlsruhe Mensa Hall by Juergen Mayer H.

Founded in 1996 in Berlin, J. MAYER H. focuses on works at the intersection of architecture, communication and new technology. From urban planning schemes and buildings to installation work and objects with new materials, the relationship between the human body, technology and nature form the background for a new production of space.

One of their recent projects is the dining hall at Karlsruhe University. Mensa Karlsruhe is an elastic space, that sits in the centre of the Karlsruhe University Campus. As an extension of the already existing facilities, the city of Karlsruhe wanted a canteen that would serve the growing number of students. The building became the new address of the campus, negotiating between the identities of three universities as well as between the urban fabric and the forest. The building reacts to this special condition with different stages of porosity.

The entire frame of the building is made of laminated wooden beams and pillars. These are clad with a polyurethane skin which is yellow on the outside and green on the inside. It conceals the seams while emphasizing the project's abstract and graphic appearance.

The porosity of the façades depends on their orientation. The building contains the dining rooms, kitchens and an array of public spaces. This implies a spiral circulation through the building, which rises to a terrace overlooking the soccer pitch where the German national team played several matches at the beginning of the 20th century.

The concept of the design is taking two slabs stuck together and detaching them by the effect of a force. The connections left between the two planes allow a modulation of different levels of porosity on the exterior, thereby linking the building to the campus' surrounding area and to the forest opposite.

The interiors are painted in various shades of green to underline the different uses of the rooms. Complementary colours are used for specific furniture. In the words of the architect, it is hoped that large numbers of students may cross paths, get to know one another and maybe even fall in love. That people should associate the heart with a designed place is the best reward for an architecture conceived to be a part of contemporary life.

The construction period was from December 2004 up to January 2007. Mensa Karlsruhe started operating on March 12th 2007.

Team J. MAYER H.:

Jürgen Mayer H., Andre Santer, Sebastian Finckh, Julia Neitzel, Wilko Hoffmann, Jan Stockebrand, Marcus Blum

with the following collaborators:

ARUP, Berlin (structural engineering)

Martin Scherer (Kitchen Engineer),

Uli Wiesler (Works supervisor),

Klaus Wiederkehr (Landscape Architect),

Photos courtesy of J.Mayer H.
This article was first published in 2ModernTalk on the 25th of August 2007.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Miss Murphy, I'm Overpowered!

How can one describe the sheer force of this woman? How can one even begin to describe the diva herself? After having missed her Synch Festival appearance (Monika as well) last summer, I was determined not to miss seeing Roisin Murphy live when the opportunity came. And it did. On the eve of my name day celebration. And it was the best gift ever!

The concert started with the support act, Marsheaux, a local electronica band, perfectly fitting with the main act. But with everyone waiting for Roisin to appear, they had no chance. Their set was great and they deserve your attention. At one point Roisin passed in front of us, entering the venue (I was at the front line with Cookiebasher and Erisabetsu). Excitement grew tenfold, and soon the Marsheaux ladies left the stage.

The band soon appeared, taking their places, the wonderful ladies doing the vocals entered the stage with a robotic pace and, lo and behold, Roisin entered after them, causing delirium in the adoring crowd. She started with Overpowered, her first single from her latest album of the same name, wearing one of her eccentric surrealistic outfits as usual (the rack with her outfits is always on stage and she changes between songs or during them, making it a part of the spectacle - superb!).

She was so close to us it felt very intimate - I was under the impression she was singing especially for me! A human dynamo, singing, dancing, performing, Roisin gave her best self to us and we gave back love and adoration - no one stopped dancing throughout!

The middle of the concert was kind of acoustic, not in an unplugged kind of style but she performed some songs without heavy drums and beats, making them even more special. And having her sit in front of you singing is simply breathtaking! Shaking her hand was obviously exciting!

She performed not only her own songs (three from her first album, Ruby Blue) but also some of her former band, Moloko: It's Nothing, I Want You, Dr. Zee, I Can't Help Myself, Pretty Bridges, The ID) and the amazing Slave to Love (by Bryan Ferry) which was featured in a Gucci ad.

Extra kudos must got to the amazing band of hers and of course the two ladies doing back up vocals and dancing with her, they were superb (special mention must go to the drummer!).

After the concert, we were lucky to meet Roisin in person - she was very kind and accepting, despite having performed a very exhausting concert and signed the set list for me and Cookie. So, while others post Kalomira autographed posters (;-P), here is the Roisin setlist with her autograph and kiss!!! And, as the venue later opened as a club, she stayed on and danced with her group - awesome!

All photos by Stratos Bacalis.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Monika makes history

How many times have you been to a music event and thought "Wow! I'm watching history being made!". Few, if any, I bet. Well, I am happy to say that yesterdays concert was one of these moments. Monika's first ever solo concert (she told us so, probably meaning that she did not share the program with any other act) was enthralling, joyful, touching. She blew us out!

She was shy and it showed. She did not expect the huge turnout of people (according to her, 500 people were left out of the venue). Monika and the band were well prepared for their songs but obviously did not expect the crowd to sing along with them ALL the songs and react so warm and accepting towards them. Visibly touched and grateful, she gave back the love, singing almost the whole Avatar album, plus her renditions of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah (a staple in her live shows I hear), Carly Simon's You're So Vain, Procul Harum's Whiter Shade of Pale and a couple more oldies.

But it was her own songs that stole the limelight. Babe, Over The Hill and others made people sing, dance, clap, cry, smile. Best moments for me were Bloody Sth and Not Young In My Youth, my eyes were brimming with tears in both of them. A big heartfelt thank you to Monika for these amazing moments. She still has little material to work with - just one record, but she did perform a great new song for us, written just three days ago, and responded to people asking for more after the encore songs (having repeated Babe and Over The Hill which ended the concert) "I don't have more!". But she will have more - Monika we're waiting!

And now the bad news: the organizers were the worst bunch I have experienced in my life. Not taking into account the crowd that gathered for the concert and having picked a most inapropriate space for it, they kept doing things to worsen the experience even more. Since when does an independed act need people sitting in tables and sofas with wine coolers, ice buckets and stuff being served as if you're watching a lounge act? Why did they keep selling tickets when the venue was already full? Shame to them. I hoped things would change with this venues new management but they got worse. And this in a city with many problems regarding appropriate concert venues.

We hope Monika comes again soon for another concert, so that all those people left out can enjoy her vibrant, fresh presence. Seeing the crowd, both inside and out, made me feel hope for a change in music things in Greece - so many young people, all eager to see and listen to Monika can only make one hopeful. May it last and expand.

The encores: Whiter Shade Of Pale.

All photos by me except the second one, which is by my colleague Ioanna Papadopoulou (Ioanna and Chrysanthi thanks for everything!)