Crippled Black Phoenix, Afformance // Gagarin 205, Athens, Greece // 12.12.2014
There are a handful of bands that have a very special bond with the Greek crowd and Crippled Black Phoenix can rest assured that they belong in this club. They know it, we know it and that is why their previous concerts here have been a separate topic of discussion amongst rock fans.
First of though, up on the stage come Afformance, gracing us with half an hour or so of beautiful instrumental post (and not only) rock. Jumping from melodic and ambient intros to occasional harder riffs they pretty much encompassed everything I love about this genre, adding (as I heard it at least) a small pinch of much welcomed psychedelic fuzz. They had an amazingly clear sound and seemed as a very well organized band altogether, playing their tracks like clockwork. Quite the charming atmosphere they created and they surely managed to captivate our attention, leaving many promises for the future.
Not long after Afformance had finished their set, the magnificent Mr. Greaves and his cohort of great musicians step on the stage to receive a first, straight from the heart of the audience, applause. As we learned after the first two tracks, Crippled Black Phoenix faced some serious damage on their line-up, with one guitarist and the bassist not being able to carry out their concert duties, thus leaving CBP in a very uncompromising position only a few days before this mini tour commenced.
However, do you think that a band that starts its set with “Rise up and fight” would put down the weapons so easily? No, they recruited the needed members and only with a day’s worth of practicing, the newcomers survived with great ability in the lion pit that is live performances. Talk about a band that can support their album titles, they truly are “Vigilantes”! Returning to the musical aspect of the night, CBP decided to continue with “Black light generator” and “NO! (Part 1&2) from their latest album, which I have to admit sounded delightful. Although they seemed to struggle a bit to perform the songs perfectly (which they accomplished though, with Daniel Anghede playing the bass wherever needed), a situation that made them look a bit anxious, Justin Greaves and Daniel were trying to warm the atmosphere in between songs with jokes (which they also accomplished). And you can talk about a personal connection of a band with the crowd, but when the singer asks for a photo of us attendants to show to his mother, that is when the heartwarming-ness reaches a new level. And yes, heartwarmingness is a word I just made up; don’t make a fuss about it. Existing words fall a bit short in describing the feelings this band creates.
A fact they are also aware of and that is probably why the second half of their performance was mind-blowing (or soul-blowing, here is another new word for you). They basically said “Here’s more than half of “I,Vigilante” with a pinch of “The Ressurectionists” , deal with the emotions yourself kid”. “Song for the loved” was followed by “Of a lifetime” and that pretty much is the point where descriptions and word plays just feel weak. The guitar notes surround the venue, with haunting beauty and precious, smile crafting melancholy. The double keyboards and Daisy’s sweet and powerful voice just elevate the game and add to the immersion of the crowd. “Fantastic Justice”, “Troublemaker”, “444” and “We forgotten who we are” build perhaps one of the most emotionally charged concert situations I’ve had the chance to participate in and make apparent that after the “Song for the loved” mark, the band reached the top of their performance. The musicians are smiling, the crowd is emotionally connected and the tornado of amazing, Pink Floyd– like songs build the spirit of this night.
When it comes to the last song, you already know what to expect, but that can’t take anything away from its perfection. A spine chilling song, “Burnt Reynolds” is accompanied by a spine chilling sing along, which goes on even when the band has left the stage. Of course, in appreciation, they return to play 3 or 4 more minutes of the song so we can finish off our sing along madness, thank us from the bottom of their hearts for being so awesome and close their set with a cover of Samhain’s “Let the day begin”. I shouldn’t forget to mention they apologized for playing only (!) two hours and promised to return with an even longer and more complete show. You can be sure that the Greek crowd is looking forward to seeing again a band with so much respect for the fans as Crippled Black Phoenix.
Report: Axilleas Pantogios
Photos: Dimitris Balabakis
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