So here it is, the first of the final three shows in Athens and the ones to be filmed!
Kami and i picked our tickets up at the box office (it was a small temporary cabin!) as did James who was with us and we headed into the venue. Phil bought a couple of tickets outside as he had tickets for the 2nd and 3rd show but not tonight. The venue was at one of the many arenas in the Olympic village in Athens that were built for the Olympic games in 2004. Its like most Olympic villages, its on the outskirts of the city, easily accessible by the metro but there's no bars, restaurants or anything else out where it is.
It was a typical venue but not quite as deep as a lot of the venues that have been played at, we entered the venue on the lower tier but decided we’d all prefer standing on the floor so made our way down to meet up with Matt, Phil and Laila who were right at the front to the left of the stage. The first thing i noticed was how much space there was on the floor, it wasn't packed at all, it was only 8:00 and the show didn't start till 9:30 tonight but even so there was so much room to move about on the floor. Once we found out where everyone was i took Kami backstage to the hospitality area. Normally the hospitality room is very well signposted but tonight there wasn't a single sign along the corridors or anywhere to be seen! I asked a security guy to direct us to Hospitality and after looking a touch concerned he led us down a couple of corridors, then spoke with and handed us over to another security guy who took us along a smaller corridor and into a small room off to the side. it was then that the other guys concern registered, they had taken us to the HOSPITAL room!! as we turned to walk in the room there was a gurney and a team of medical staff in there!! i then explained to them that it was band hospitality that we were looking for and once they realised they took us back out and into the actual room we were looking for!! I had a quick chat with Robbie and Dave and left kami there while i went back out onto the floor to see James, Phil and Liala.
The second thing that was evident was the camera throughout the venue, i counted 8 in total spread around the venue
1. Boom mounted at the sound desk
2. Stage left rolling on rails elevated off the floor, rolling from half way back to level with the front of the stage.
3. Stage right, again elevated off the floor rolling on rails from half way back to level with the front of the stage
4. Stage right, a fixed camera about half way back front row of the lower level
5. Front of stage in front of the crowd spanning the full length of the stage on rails.
6. Stage left, camera on a boom going behind and in front of the stage over the top of the wall
7.Static camera on a vertical riser just up and down behind Grahams drum kit
8. Roaming camera on the arena floor.
Pictures of some of the cameras i took at the 2nd show.
What was also evident was the lighting that was up on the front of the second tier, about 25 single small spots either side of the venue, plus a group of 6 each side of the venue pointed down towards the front section of the floor. There was also a lack of surround speakers, there was no surround at all for tonight(and the next two nights) shows. I remember in 2000 and the Portland show that they filmed and how the arena had to be lit most of the time due to filming,this looked like it was going to be the same too.
Everyone on the floor was holding a paper face mask similar to the ones given out at the Berlin show, these had been handed out to everyone who came in through the floor entrance, as James, Kami and i had come in through the lower level one we didn't have any, well until i went back to the entrance and snagged us a few:) There were no instructions on the back like I've seen before, how would the crowd know when to wear them i wondered ? As i was walking back from the rear of the venue i could tell there were no cameras at all in the venue either, there was no one taking pictures, no small LCD screens anywhere, no little red lights blinking, nothing at all! As we all stepped off the train there were people with megaphones telling everyone that cameras and mobiles would not be allowed in the venue and as we all walked closer to the arena there were people handing out leaflets to everyone just to make doubly sure everyone was getting the message. James, Phil Kami and i hadn't brought ours at all, we had left our phones and cameras at the hotel but even if we hadn't there were small booths where people could leave them and get a ticket in return to pick them up after the show.
The wall itself was just the same, as was the stage setup, i had heard rumours that the venue would be decked out with banners hanging from the ceiling like at the original show in 1980/81 these were obviously just rumours or they had decided against this for some reason. Kami came back from the “hospital” with about 10 minutes before show time and we all took our places right on the front rail right in front of Dave and Snowy.
After the track “People Get Ready” the normal routine of the two guards bringing pink out on stage didn't happen, what we saw was the lights going down and a video of Roger appeared on the big round screen and on each side of the wall. He proceeded to talk (or try to talk) in Greek, failing at first and saying “ oh fucking hell” and “ ahh it doesn't matter they will cut all this crap out anyway wont they?” they obviously didn't and the crowd laughed as Roger messed up a few times. He looked real happy and was having fun saying whatever he was saying, we asked the people next to use what he was saying and they were telling how he was explaining that the shows were to be filmed and that everyone was to put on their masks at the beginning of Empty Spaces (this was obviously why there were no instructions on the back of the masks!)
The whole crowd let out a huge cheer at the end of Rogers talk and we then heard the Spartacus shouts and saw the guards bring pink on the stage. It started off as any other show did however the lights that i spoke about earlier were very evident during the show and if you looked round behind you could see all the crowd were lit a lot more than normal and the place wasn't dark at all. The lights changed colour during each track, blue, orange, white etc the cluster of 6 spotlights came on and lit the front section of the audience at the end of each track too, this wasn't as off-putting as i expected and after 3 or 4 tracks you didn't notice them at all, what you did notice though even though we were on the front row was there wasn't a single flash of a camera in the building! not a single red light shining towards the stage either. The crowd were loud from the very start, they started singing the words to Another Brick within seconds and i was very surprised that Roger stuck to playing the new ending that he’s been playing at the last dozen or so shows, i was sure he would want the original version on the DVD, obviously not!
Dave's guitar wasn't to be heard during the first 15 seconds of Goodbye Blue Sky, and there was a feedback tone that had the crew looking at each other in confusion! it was obviously sorted out quickly and things were back to normal audio wise but it took a good 30 seconds
As the animation started for the Fucking Flowers on screen i looked behind and saw people starting to put their masks on, i put mine on as did Kami, James, Phil and Matt. I looked around 30 seconds later and the sight was incredible, EVERY single person on the floor was wearing their mask! i couldn't see one person that didn't have one on, it literally was a “sea of faces” and all the same ones! Even the crew were all smiles looking at everyone in the audience wearing the masks.
To be continued………