Summer concerts 2022 – what we liked, what we didn’t, what we will remember

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The summer of 2022 will go down in history for several reasons, the most important of them being the return to the normality of live shows and festivals in open spaces after 2 and a half years of pandemic. The number of shows that were scheduled and took place was beyond imagination, while one thing that was realy amazing was that the rock/metal crowd went to the imposing Olympic Stadium in Athens for two shows in the same summer. In a day and age when rock is supposedly dead, it was the rockers that brought back the big stadium to the concert circuit. Also, another great moment was the Desmond Child’s sold out in the historic Odeum of Herode Atticus with Alice Cooper spreading joy to his fans twice, as well as strolling into the Athens city center taking pictures with every one and the media chasing him even in restaurants!

Rockpages.gr team is offering it’s two cents re-caping an amazing summer packed with rock metal shows. Here’s the best, the unforgettable, as well as the regrettable moments.

Which concert I liked the most

Yiannis Dolas – Release Athens – Judas Priest, Cradle Of Filth, The Dead Daisies, Black Soul Horde: It was a honest show with Judas Priest in good shape and cool setlist. Certainly, when you kick-off with “One Shot At Glory” nothing can go wrong, right? Also, it was great to listen “Blood Red Skies”. Cradle Of Filth was also good, but it was The Dead Daisies who stole the show with Glenn Hughes’ performance blowing people’s minds. The guy is an alien!

Dimitris Kazantzis – The return to concerts and especially music festivals, after two years of confinement and fear for the next day, was a redemption for all of us who consider them a way of life. So, it came as no surprise to respond to most of them, always checking the balance on our credit cards. In terms of attendance, things went great and the fans avowedly showed how much they missed the whole process. I attended many concerts this summer and I have to say that almost all of them were very good. The concerts were not only missed to the audience, but to the musicians as well. It’s hard to answer which was the best concert of the summer. I will single out that of Scorpions with Alice Cooper, mainly because of Alice Cooper, who after 15 years revisited Athens in one of the best tours of his career, and that of Iron Maiden who always have their way to make you say that they were the best, despite the well-known facetious fact with Dickinson. The Olympic Stadium of Athens was at peak demand this summer in music and I hope this to continue, despite some problems in the organization that appeared at the Iron Maiden show.

Sakis Nikas – After a 2-year dry period due to the pandemic, the fans rushed to all the shows that took place…and they were many of them! I believe that all the promoters were satisfied with the tickets that were sold and hopefully next season would be even more profitable. Personally, I wasn’t disappointed by any concert that I attended. Quite the opposite, really. But which one was the best of them all? Well, if the well-documented incident with Bruce Dickinson hadn’t taken place, then for sure I’d say that Iron Maiden’s concert was the best one. However, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Alice Cooper; his show was absolutely flawless and impressive as ever. Second runner-up: Desmond Child at the Herodium Theatre.

George Terzakis – New Long Fest by far

Which concert I liked the least

Yiannis Dolas – Iron Maiden – OAKA: Personally, it was the worst show I’ve been from my expectations point of view. And the band wasn’t responsible for that. Maiden were great, maybe not as good as in 2018, but it was the conditions that wasn’t the best for this historic show – the first time ever Maiden to play in such a big arena in Greece. The return of heavy metal to the biggest venue in Greece, which actually was double with the Scorpions/Alice Cooper show, should have been a day of celebration and not a reason for cringing and being miserable. And that’s the promoter’s fault. Of course, I am referring to the issue of the insane split up of the big arena to “Standing A” and “Standing B” sections with huge gaps between them that didn’t correspond to the pre-sale map. To add salt to injury, the merch stands and food and drink stands were positioned in the middle blocking totally the view of the left and right flanks of the “Standing B” forcing people to cram in the middle to catch a glimpse of the Beast. Also, another problem was the positions of toilets and food/drink vouchers vendors at the entrance of the arena that had people cueing creating chaos.

Dimitris Kazantzis –  As for the worst concert, although I don’t like the term “worst”, I won’t say Cradle Of Filth, since I don’t like the kind of music they play and that would have been unfair. I will say that an expensive productions too many props, with fires and battles on stage, should be accompanied with equally good  music, which Sabaton didn’t offer me. On the other hand, since they excited so many people and sold as much merchandise as everyone else together, I don’t have anything to complain about, just to say that what I was listening didn’t match what I was watching.

Sakis Nikas – As I said above, I loved all the shows that I was present at. Having said that, Airbourne wasn’t up to par and got “lost” in the huge stage of the Olympic Stadium.

George Terzakis – I wasn’t fully disappointed with anyone, but if I had to choose I would say the day of Release Athens with Manowar as headliners.

Highlights

Yiannis Dolas – Just the fact that we enjoyed several bands for the first time ever in our country was a highlight by itself. The Hellacopters, Social Distortion and Airbourne played in Greek turf for the first time ever and we really wish we see them again soon.

On the other hand, every trip to the Water Square was a pleasant experience, not only musically, but as well as from the organization side of things. The venue was set up ideally, the facilities were good and you felt respected as a concert goer. Even in the toilets the situation was pretty good with guards, soap and antiseptic hand gel (just the fact that I mention that is indicative of the situation). A small exception to that rule was the festival run out of water on its last day –with a heat wave- when Slipknot played in front of 20,000 people.

Sakis Nikas – The magical performance of Alice Cooper with Kip Winger during the Desmond Child Concert at the Herodium Theatre.

George Terzakis – The amazing Blind Guardian with “Somewhere Far Beyond” in its entirety.

What bothered me (crowd reactions- promoters)

Yiannis Dolas – Bruce Dickinson: His reaction was extreme and unprofessional, and the same goes for the flares that were lit during Iron Maiden’show. Unfortunately, that’s a reality in shows in Greece, plus there was no checks in the entrance of the stadium. What I also don’t understand is why we have to praise Dickinson’s reaction to stop the show when a kid needed help in the front row. Isn’t something that goes without saying? If you see someone having trouble, you should ask for help, or try to help yourself. Was it that weird that the frontman of one of the greatest bands in the planet stopped the show to offer help to someone?

Dimitris Kazantzis – There was a lot of discussion about what Bruce Dickinson said to the guy who lit a flair at the Iron Maiden concert. Only that it wasn’t just one, there were dozens. Certainly this reaction didn’t match with the singer’s value who, in addition to “spoiling” The Number Of The Beast, made some people feel offended. I’m not used to messing with people, but in this case some of them have to understand that the use of such products in live shows is prohibited. They only should be used for ships and climbers for emergency situations. Here in Greece we use them in order to create… atmosphere, without thοse who light them even caring if they might injure someone next to them while acting like maniacs or if someone nearby has a respiratory problem. Bruce himself has caused controversy in the past due to the use of flairs and it is common knowledge that he does not like them. There is no excuse for the use of them, something that only happens in this country, and no excuse for not checking at the entrance of the venues. In one of the following festivals a band took advantage of that fact and said how much they likes this atmosphere and that they couldn’t understand why Dickinson doesn’t like Greeks, something that Bruce never said. It’s hypocrisy if nothing else… Anyway, this stupidity of the Greek stadiums that has been transferred to the concert venues must be stopped by all means.

Sakis Nikas – I guess by now the infamous incident at the Maiden show is well-known to everyone. I didn’t like the excessive use of flares but most importantly I was really taken aback by Dickinson’s unprofessional and extreme reaction that resulted to his leaving the stage thus leaving the rest of the guys hanging there rather embarrassed. He should have handled the whole thing in a vastly different manner.

George Terzakis – Too many mobile phones from all the hipsters, hand flares and weed smoking from those who don’t care about the ones near them, the unacceptable reaction of Bruce Dickinson when he left the stage and cursed the fan.

Remarks

Yiannis Dolas – Merchandise was very expensive, food and drinks were expensive and the obsession not to let you take a bottle of water with the cap was insane, when at the same time there were flairs lighting up all over, or in some other venues they’d give you cans of beer. Obviously, the protocols are not the same for every company.

Dimitris Kazantzis – Many serious things must be said here. As for the audience and the conditions of their stay in the venues, things went quite well with the exception of the fans at the Iron Maiden concert at the back side of the arena, in a place that was suffocating full and could have been divided better by taking some space from the front. Otherwise, the situation was decent at all the concerts I’ve been to. The access as well as the distribution of catering, security and hygiene areas were at a good level as was the departure process at the end. But there were also issues that disappointed me and naturally must have disappointed some of the festival’s line up, regardless of whether for many reasons they did not express themselves about it. It is about the Greek bands that opened the festivals. Their show time time was very short (25-30 minutes) in contrast to the change-over time which was unreasonably long and an additional band could have been added, or at least the opening act could have started a little later with more people in front of them. A bad impression was also caused by the complete lack of merchandise from almost all Greek bands and the reason is the very high commissions that the musicians were asked to pay. This should be highlighted because it is not a something that supports young musicians. The announcement of support acts just a week before the shows of Accept and Within Temptation is not actually supporting them. Bands are groups of artists chasing their dream and promoting culture, not junk, which unfortunately is the way they are treated.

Sakis Nikas – Release Festival was the absolute pleasant surprise of summer 2022. The overall impeccable and professional organization in every aspect of the event won every single fan and set the bar high for the rest of the promoters. Some things should not be taken for granted and we appreciated how the promoters of this festival handled every single detail. Congrats! On the other hand, there was a poor mishandling and organization at the Maiden show as the promoters really messed up with how the arena crowd was divided at the Standing A and B sections. The latter one was packed, and the fans couldn’t see the stage especially due to the fact that the kiosks that sold beverages and beers blocked the view.

George Terzakis – For the fans I said it above, some organizers should think the wallet of the people who paid expensive tickets when the arrange the food and drink prices. I’m certain that three small waters and a small refreshment are cheaper in Mykonos than the 7€ I had to pay in the Scorpions/Alice Cooper show. New Long Fest is the only exception with unbeatable prices.

Wishlist for 2023

Yiannis Dolas – Metallica, Volbeat, Misfits, Running Wild, Helloween, The Supersuckers

Sakis Nikas – Pearl Jam, Helloween, Metallica

George Terzakis – Volbeat, Hatebreed, Ghost, Audrey Horne, Machine Head, Running Wild, Mercyful Fate