One of the warm days of September was over and the light breeze of the evening was cooling the ancient (and new) marbles of Herodion. The contrast between the night of the Attica sky and the marbles, pale yellow due to the lights, emphasized the timelessness of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. The steep slope of the theater reminded the technical ingeniousness of the Ancients in the field of acoustics. That was the ideal scene for the farewell concert of one of our favourite voices in rock. Eric Burdon at 78 (!) years old, decided it’s time to retire his 60-year career.
It was just a few minutes after 9, and while almost all the seats of the theatre were occupied, when the lights went off except the stage and the latest Animals reincarnation, even with sax and trombone, came on stage and started playing. A few seconds later, discreetly and with small steps, the white-haired legend, Eric Burdon, made his entrance from the right side of the stage.
The concert started slowly, with Burdon warming up with Motherless Child, to raise the rhythm with Mama Told Me Not To Come, which he had covered in 1966 in his first solo album. Travelling two years later and the album Every One Of Us, from Eric Burdon and the Animals, Burdon reminded us White Houses, while he reduced the tempo again with one of his favourite songs, Anything. When I Was Young became even more personal with Burdon changing some lyrics to “When I was younger”, while Soul Of A Man from the homonymous album of Burdon from 2006 brought us back to the blues of the start of the last century.
Eric Burdon’s voice, I admit, was much better than I expected. If I listen again to the songs from the concert, I can discern easily his efforts to perform adequately. But at that moment, with the crystal sound of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the exceptional band, and Burdon moving around and singing with all his passion, I could only admire his endurance and performance.
The concert went on with well-known and less-known songs. He kinda dedicated The Fool to Boris Johnson, after he commented on the situation in the United Kingdom, and went on in the blues and gospel with Mother Earth. Darkness Darkness, he said, suits someone at his age, while he had to perform Woman Of The Rings because it was a big hit in Greece (great song nevertheless). And while they started playing The Night, the screen with the lyrics in front of the mike broke down. As a result, this song became an exercise on improvisation and my favourite song a small dissonance in the otherwise amazing evenin
Next came For What It’s Worth, of Buffalo Springfield, famous for the lyrics “Stop, hey what’s that sound”, which Burdon recorded recently due to lack in protest songs. The House of The Rising Sun obviously initiated some sing-along, while the main part of the concert ended with Hold On I’m Coming of Sam and Dave.
After a really short break, the first encore kicked off with a violin intro leading to Paint It Black of Rolling Stones, followed by We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place and Don’t Bring Me Down, and then Bring It On Home To Me. After a really short second break, the second encore brought in the last song of the concert, It’s My Life. I was expecting a couple more songs (e.g. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood or I’m Crying) but Eric Burdon was already on stage for two hours without any break. It is obviously impossible to fit almost 60 years of career in two hours of a concert, and the concert was quite balanced with covers or songs written by Burdon, with or without the Animals.
Maybe we didn’t realise, but we became witnesses of a historical concert.
Photos: Chris Kissadjekian
PS. The only drawback, the cloud of cigarette smoke that gathered outside the Odeon, right after the concert.