Athens Underground

Jean-Hervé Péron

The Faust list, 07 Oct 2006

Athens was very special right from the start: we had accepted to play a gig knowing we could not get any metal scrap, concrete mixer, no incendiaries, no smoke, no breaking of TVs or glass pannels, no extra drums, no ironing - straight kraut without side-dish so to say. So there we were, at Hamburg airport, equipped with a small 4 channel-mixing-desk he bought on the way and a couple of shirts; me, with my guitars and two effects pedals. Amaury, departing from Milano a bit later in a similar situation, was to arrive at about the same time in Athens.

No essential problems with the flight apart from a boring delayed stop over in Zurich. Smooth landing in Athens and... 19C at midnight! Mama, isn't this nice and warm! Amaury was also delayed so all in all it was 2:00 in the morning when we made it to the hotel and 5:00 by the time we hit our beds: yes, Zappi and I wanted to talk with Momo. Unfortunately, Momo had quit his abstinence on alk and fags, so they both got real "tired". The talking was fruitul though.

I had a little encounter with the promoter the next morning, due to some misunderstandings: my lack of humor is a catastrophe. I still believe that when a deal is done, one has to stick to the deal without any further hussles or unexpected changes. This is not so in real life, and it bugs me. But, as the French say "tout est bien qui finit bien", it all somehow happened at the end: the ordered backline came, Momo got his midi-organ and we could get into the venue early enough. John, the manager of the place was very cooperative... and later Nikos... The sound engineer turned out to be extremly competent. Our local bestboy Spirros was now sweating like if it'd be standing under equatorial rain and sure he hated my guts at the end of the day - sorry Spirros. I know I walk faster than you do because in the northern country you gotta move if you want to keep warm. I know here it IS warm and it is no good to move fast... siga siga say the Greeks. I know. Why do now what you can postpone and eventually forget? I know I know. But no buddy, I do need an angle-grinder, and no, Zappi is not going to carry those heavy cases while you stand here with both hands in your pockets: I slowed down some and he speeded up some too so at the end of our stay, spirros and I were real friends, no shit.

Our set-up was real fast and easy because we had just about nothing to set up. The sound check was also real fast cos there was nothing much to check.

We decided to have a meal: psari is fish in greek and they sure cook it right. Nice place in a nice part of the city, sort of the hip quarters of Athens, millions of bars, boutiques, restos and people, and, beautiful ladies, one sexier than the other. You guys can imagine what it is when it is really hot and the exotic damsels are wearing some sweet nothings while teasing Momo and giving him the eye. I had to blindfold him on the way back to the venue.

We stopped at the hotel so Zappi could relax his back and we also could discussed the set-list.

we decided on the following

  • 1 - Les Salauds Officiels / The Official Bastards (from new cd)
  • 2 - The Sad Skinhead
  • 3 - C'est Con..Complique / It's Complicated (from new cd)
  • 4 - Impro on a dvd showing what a train sees while driving through Norway
  • 5 - En Veux-tu es Effets? en Voila!/ Do You Want Effects? There You Are! (from new cd)
  • 6 - Psalter
  • 7 - Accroche a tes Levres / Hung on Your Lips (from new cd)
  • 8 - Rainy Day
  • 9 - Ce Chemin est le Bon / The Way is the Right One (from new cd)
  • 10 - Improv on a video made by Zappi at Le Vieux Moulin in June this year. He decided to call it "The End of Athens"
  • 11 - Listen to the Fish... and freeze

For the encore we had decided nothing cos we did not expect any really.

"The Underworld" is a basement venue holding 500 people when full. It got packed! We did not need to smoke the place, believe me. The Greeks are solid smokers! To my utmost pleasure, as you can imagine. They locked backstage and gave me the key because they just could NOT guarantee that noone would smoke in there. Nice gesture. Unfortunately I lost the (one and only) key during the tumultuous show and they had to bash the door open. ooops. I am sorry. I changed my stage clothes on stage and probably I lost it then.

The audience was a typical Faust audience: from very young to very old, mostly males, and all enthusiasts. What a pleasure to play for such an audience! There were two support acts: a two-man group, one on processed/bouzouki and his partner on processed/guitar: The Family Battle Snake. Very concentrated, very drone. Then Chris Corsano solo on his drums: excellent, he knows what he is doing.

Funny enough, I was very paranoid about our performance before we got on stage, a feeling I rarely have. We were forced to remove half our gear from the stage, share some amps and cables, share mics. Ooohlala... that freaks me out. And then, it completely vanished the minute we started to re-set: I felt totally at ease, didn't feel the usual time pressure, found all my cables, everything worked, my acoustic bass (Blue Johnson, China made. Love it) was not working but it does not panic me... just the jack input a bit wanky, gaffer-tape does the job and ... quick first change of clothes backstage and BOUM it starts like hell, Momo and Zappi and me, doing each our thing on a different rythmn-pattern, very very tight but still all relaxed... dictators and killers, false heroes and historical monsters, presidents and generals, fanatics and perverted tyrants, yeah you all official bastards, may your wicked soul find peace although I doubt it will.

And so it went on for a good 105 minutes non-stop. Changing moods and intensity, doing the hits and the new songs and the improvs. Once I felt the "suspense" was going down the drain (I spent too much time undressing and re-dressing on stage cos I was too "high" and excited: so we had to sneak Mamie is Blue to re-tune the audience... I made use of my loop pedal which is great to have in such situation cos you can build up layers after layers and it is all live.

Zappi was beating hell: I can tell when Zappi's eye starts rolling: man, he is gone then... and Momo was obviously having a real good time with his new expander and his two mesaboogies cabinets. The soundman Nikos was great. He found the time to do some fancy lights as well... good man! Hats off! They loved it when they recognized The Sad Skinhead and even more so when the melody of the Psalter emerged from an unidentifiable drum beat with numbers in french. Rainy Day went down really good - not too long, and well structured. People were dancing! Its not that often that the audience lets go and moves.

The end of the Fish was nice: we made a loooooog decrescendo and froze for good three minutes. The audience was sort of hypnotized for a while... a nice feeling to have a crowd silent and only a feable sound persists, evacuating the room herz by herz.

We gladly did an encore: The Caressing Waltz (you've heard it if you have the Trial and Error 2005). Good friendly finish, easy, semi-acoustic, something to take you home, swirling through the empty streets.

What should I say? Apparently Athens liked it. Definitely, we enjoyed the show. SADLY, Nikos forgot to press "record" on my dat-recorder! Nobody is perfect. So, it is only in the memory of those who were there unless someone else recorded it... qui sait ?! It was 3:00am when we closed our eyes and two hours later we had to fly freezing lovely northern Germany...

Fotis Kontomichos was there. He is a lister. That made me feel home somehow. A young man talked to me after the show, outside, in the soft warm air of Athenai: his teacher had told him to come to the show as he explained to him and to the class all about faust music. I felt flattered. What do you want more. Applause and acknowledgement: this is the fuel and bread and drug of all artists.

See you in amsterdam?

Jean-Hervé Péron, "Athens Underground", The Faust list 2006

ref: Faust Mailing List