A couple of days ago, as I was passing one of the larger and grander cafes on the harbour front, I saw a bunch of posters advertising a concert. It looked intriguing: a shaggy-bearded and rather elderly man at a keyboard. I imagined some Vangelis-like techno-pop, so asked inside where it was taking place, imagining a concert hall nearby. “Here!” I was told, so I put my name down – “Chris” was enough, it seemed.
It was advertised to start at 10.30, so I turned up at 10 to bag a good seat. I needn’t have bothered, as there was impressive organisation. The whole place was laid-out cabaret-style, with tables and chairs around a low stage and dance floor, and each table laid out with bottles of water, crisps, nuts… and a small piece of paper with the names of the customers. The guy on the door knew exactly where my seat was, which might have had something to do with me being English, and the only person on his own in the entire place.
I was sat at the bar, and right in front of the stage. Which would have been perfect if it hadn’t been for the large pillar right in the way.
Psarantonis was the name of the artist, and he is apparently very famous in Greece, though someone further removed from rock star chic it would be hard to imagine. Not techno-pop either, but a sort of growly folk rock, a cross between Tom Waits and Seth Lakeman. Check him out on You Tube, especially “Tigris” at the Passionkirche in Berlin. That was four years ago, and though the beard is even more unkempt, I swear he is wearing exactly the same clothes. It was an amazing concert, and his backing band, with an additional percussionist to the ones in the clip, were all pretty special too, all of them contributing vocal solos.
Adding to the entertainment value were members of the audience getting onto the dancefloor when the music inspired them to. Chiefly, it was the sort of stepping circle dance one knows of from movies, but every so often one of them would break into the middle to execute some athletic, exhilarating moves.
The concert didn’t actually start until 11.30, and I bailed out at 2.15, when it was still going, but I almost wasn’t. As someone from Better Days said, when I told them about it, “Welcome to Greece!”