Thirteen years is a long time. This is how long I've been waiting for this live. From what I heard from people I met that night, there were many who've been waiting for this for 20 years! So the expectations have been high. Add the last minute disappointment that Chris DeGarmo decided not to follow the tour (Mike Stone took his place) and the query of how their new album ("Tribe" 22 July) will sound and you might understand that the anticipation was huge. I am inside the theater one hour earlier (I have to describe the place: the theater is carved in the rocks on the top of the highest hill of Athens - right in the centre of the city. The view is breathtaking – the place affords view to the whole city, down to the sea).
The whole metal community of Athens is there, journalist from metal magazines, members of Greek groups, metal/rock record shops' owners, plus many fans who have traveled from all around Greece. 9:30 and the place is full (5.000-6.000 approximately), while the rocks around the theater (the "cheap" seats) are also occupied. Lights go down, and the band is on the stage in total delirium from the crowd. I can see Tate making his entrance and I shiver from head to toe. The show begins with what seems to be the first single (it must have been "Open") from their upcoming album. Although nobody knows the song, the applause escorts the band. First impressions: amazing song - back to the "Promised Land" days of the group!! They continue with "My Global Mind" and the crowd starts participating more energetically. And then a flood of classics takes us all by surprise: "NM 156", "Screaming in Digital", "The Needle Lies", "Empire", and the hill shakes to it roots...crowd surfing, headbanging, screams, singing along.
The band is in perfect shape, so tied, that it sounds as if one person plays all instruments. Tate is an experienced frontman and with simple moves "controls" the whole crowd. The whole band seems serious and precise, dedicated to its one goal: to create ART. Yes, their entire attitude shows that above all they are mature artists and not rock stars or anything else. In between the songs Tate has the chance to say a few words to the crowd and the first thing I notice is that he has an amazing, deep voice when speaking. He informs that the night is going to be long (ho-ho-ho) and introduces us to "one of the favourite albums of the band", with "I am I" and "Damaged". The show goes on with (I might have forgotten something): "Breakdonw", "The Right Side of My Mind", "Sacred Ground", which sound much better on stage, "Jet City Woman", "Silent Lucidity".
And then the big surprise of the night. The band starts with "I Remember Now" and keeps going and going playing most of the "Operation: Mindcrime" album (it only left out tree songs). Not to forget during "Spreading the Disease" in his narration Tate changes the lyrics: "Politicians say no to drugs, but we pay for wars in the MIDDLE EAST" and receives an extra applause from the crowd. I don't know if someone informed them that the album here in Greece is adored in a religious way.... it was the best selection. When they close with "Eyes of a Stranger", crowd's reactions touches the boundaries of paroxism, the 36 years old guy next to me acts as if he suffers from epilepsy, the couple in front of me (they had traveled from Northern Greece) must have invented a type of choreography for the song as they are quite synchronized in their moves, people on the rocks are jumping up and down (thank God none fell down). The band leaves the stage and returns with two new songs (one of them is called "Desert Dance"). I'm telling you that if the whole album is like this, then I have found the album of the year and a good friend for many years to come. I can only say that the sound is close to the "Promised Land" album....but only close, not like it.
After two full hours (no solos, speeches etc) the show comes to an end with "Best I Can". The crowd keeps applauding and asking for more for more than 15 minutes, but the band never comes out again. But we can't have it all. This wasn't a live, but a mystagogy. I have been in approximately 50 gigs, I have seen more than 70 groups (not to mention the Greek ones), but I can hardly remember something like this before. If I had to re-experience 5 past experiences of my life, then this show would be the one. 'RYCHE ON ETERNAL SKIES!!!!!!
by Alex Savatianos
PS: The only problem is that I had to pick up my pieces as in 22 hours I had to climb the hill again to see Whitesnake....