[Tour Diary] Singapore Sling live in Greece chronicle

Day 1

It was almost 08:30 when I boarded the train to Athens from Larissa to meet Victor who was already on board from Thessaloniki. Thursday the 3rd of October, a date long anticipated for the first ever Singapore Sling gig on Greek soil, in the legendary Αν Club of Athens.
Subsequently, we would go on a small Greek tour with them. The journey was typical, the compartments half empty, quiet in general. When we arrived at Athens me & Victor (the driver) headed to a friend’s (Filitsa we love you) place to leave baggage and chill until 17:30 when the sound check supposedly would begin. Around 16:30 Victor gets a call from someone, who would later discover was Bjorn Victorsson the band’s drummer, saying that none is at the airport to pick them up!! Thankfully, Michael (from You Trip Me Up) got in touch with the local promoters and the matter was solved but the sound check was running already late.

We strolled down Patision Avenue and got to An Club around 18:30 to meet the band. To our surprise Henrik informs us that the bassist had missed his flight!!! Major blow for a band to lose half of the rhythm section and as later found out, the bass would be imported from an i-pod in conjunction with the drums. The sound check lasted about an hour and as I was sitting there watching them I did not have a clue what to expect. Last year, in London the bassist was there and gave a completely different groove to the sound along with Henrik’s wife, the lovely Elsa, who played marakes. Today, no bass and the band a little bit tired and edgy, who knows, we would eventually find out later.

The promoters left with the band and I went uphill Exarcheia to meet up with Victor at The Lab. We ended up watching PAOK vs. Alkmaar at a nearby place waiting for the concert to start. It was very cold for an October night and the spectacle of PAOK was disheartening as well. We managed to draw with the Dutch side and then after 3 beers we entered the venue. Quite a lot people showed up, not a sold out at any case but due to the fact that psych is quite popular among hipsters; it was a decent hip crowd. My Drunken Haze hit the stage and all started to make sense. The band was awesomely solid; the female vocal gave a dreamy yet poppy texture to the music. An unexpected cover of the stone’s Citadel was a highlight as well their last song that completely set the crowd off, Pleasing Illusions. I wish they played two or three more songs. In my opinion, they have a great future ahead of them, if you are near a place they play DO NOT miss them, their performance will be worthwhile. Well done guys.

The main course of the night was of course the Slings. They went on stage clearly awkward and did not know what to expect. They deliver the songs at their best but the crowd was restless. The absence of the bassist and the typical stage presence discouraged the lively Greek audience. The three songs where Bjorn played the drums were highlights as they added more power to Henrik’s dark, fuzzy chords. Helgi was widely referred to as the Morissey lookalike but really gave enough energy with his guitar pedals and steady playing. Later Henrik admitted that it was one of the most awkward shows ever cause they haven’t been in this situation again. They felt bad for letting the people down but at the end of the day everyone deserves understanding. We had a nice chat and a couple of drinks backstage with all three of them and then the guys from Arte Fiasco took over for the rest of the night. We made arrangements to pick them up on the following morning and then headed towards Mo Better for a taste of Psycho Grandmamas. It was a good night but tomorrow was far more promising.

Day 2

Early morning, a quick coffee and with anticipation growing we headed to pick up the rental van on which we would embark on the mini Singapore Sling tour for the next 3 days. The paperwork was submitted, we got the keys, cd into the player and off we go to pick up the band. Fortunately we managed to avoid an accident in downtown Athens, it would have really spoil the upcoming fun. It was so close but Victor’s undisputed driving skills prevented the accident. The guys already were waiting in the lobby, very punctual throughout the tour I must admit, we loaded the van and headed to Larissa for the next show. The journey from Athens was delightful. Small talk with the guys about music, great sunny weather, a few necessary stops and after a couple of hours exhaustion kicked in so they all fell asleep leaving us to joke around and try to be at Larissa on time. Sound check at Stage Club was almost on time, then off to the hotel for a brief rest and because everyone was starving we went for dinner. Helgi and Haldberg thoroughly enjoyed the Greek specialties of Akamatra, while Henrik was indulging on beer and indoors smoking!!!

I picked them all up from the hotel around 22:00 but because of an unexpected high attendance (almost 160) there was no room to sit inside the club, so Victor’s idea to turn the van into backstage proved to be a brilliant idea. Sadly, we didn’t see Electro Vampires (support band from Thessaloniki) play but I had a feeling that we would see the better of them. Hail the Vamps. We had some beers and laughs, loads of friends “paraded” and met the guys, had a few beers and soon we went in cause the show was about to begin. The sound and the lights were far better than Athens, the Slings put on their priest collars and gave the Larissa crowd a taste of their fuzzy, reverbed tunes. Their whole stage presence had an awkward reception from the crowd, as they rarely moved or engaged in any interaction, but as they later admitted it was all an act, another world they wanted to create. They are all very easygoing and talkative people but we must realize that they are up there to play music and not be your friends. Some people were expecting a different approach from the band so they were disappointed. Singapore Sling delivered the set, Overdriver being the highlight for me, also Dirty Water, The Nothing Inside. Life Is Killing My Rock N’ Roll and Godman stood out from the rest of the set. The few records remaining from their merch were vanished in a blink of an eye so there was nothing left for Thessaloniki the next day. The boys enjoyed the show, stayed for some drinks afterwards to meet fans, we ended up at Peripou bar. We kindly accepted the owner’s proposal to have some drinks there, listened to some quality music from our friend Vaggelis and after an hour, about 03:00. The hotel bed was the only destination for all of us. Victor needed rest so he was long gone, I accompanied the guys back to the hotel, arranged tomorrow’s plan and I was off out again to conclude the night on my own.

Day 3

I woke up with a terrible back pain, couldn’t even get out of bed. I really struggled to get to the hotel to meet up with the band and Victor. Agonizing pain!! We set off with a half an hour delay after playing at my home turf (Larissa) it was Victor’s time to play on his (Salonica) Next stop Platamon though, for a chilling coffee break in front of the sea, a few laughs and Victor getting on my nerves by desperately trying to find a WI-FI!! Agggrrrr!!! We decided to do a mini photo shoot on a lifeguard bay which went unexpectedly well, sea, sun and Singapore Sling!! Next stop Thessaloniki for the third and final show of this mini tour. Mount Olympus raised a few eyebrows as a part of Greek mythology was in front of them. It would be nice to have more time to show them a little bit more around monuments but the schedule was tight! Victor proved to be a very trustworthy driver as we got to Eightball Club on time again despite the traffic and delay on the road.

No sound check problems but it took us a while. The sound engineer of 8ball club did a damn good job so waited to have dinner on the second floor of the club and headed to the hotel. The band decided to have a rest as we had a good two hours before the show. Me and Henrik were waiting for the rest of the guys to get ready and the hotel lobby was buzzing with laughter and shouts from backpackers. Suddenly a girl steps up and asks if we were in a band. Henrik says “ Yes we are” “but (pointing at me) he isn’t” . There goes my first and last chance of being in a band, thank you very much Henrik!!!  We had a laugh afterwards about it but the girl never came to the concert despite her promise. The band arrived a quarter to 11 at the club headed for the dressing rooms and watched a bit of the Electro Vampires set. We missed Psychedelic Trips To Death but rest was essential. The Vamps played tirelessly in front of their home crowd proving again that they are a solid, grooving rock n roll machine. The audience was ready for Singapore Sling, walked them on stage through a good crowd of about 150 people and the “priests” delivered probably their best show yet in Greece in front of the warmest crowd so far. Thessaloniki knows how to uplift bands and the guys did not disappoint them. There is no point really commenting on the songs as they were mostly the same but the band seemed to enjoy their last gig in Greece.

As soon as they finished and after gearing up the guys from Electro Vampires were kind enough to invite us over at their brilliant studio to continue the rest of the night. What happened there is really between us all that were present but it was a night to remember. An interstellar jam began as band members from Singapore Sling, Electro Vampires and Roundlights jammed until the early hours of the morning. The band took every opportunity to compensate the guys for their hospitality and played quite a few songs, including a scary Goo Goo Muck version with me and Henrik on vocals. Thank you guys it was really something else.

Day 4

Still excited form that great night out, a bit tired and sleepless we headed back to the hotel to pack up as the time was already 04:30  and in an hour Victor would pick us up to get back in Athens for the morning flight. The road to Athens seemed endless from the beginning and after a few laughs in the van they all fell asleep. I was struggling to stay awake, as I was sleepless from yesterday morning, to keep company to Victor but soon it was my turn to switch off. The driver did a very good job on his own for at least two hours when I came around again. We were on time and reached Eleftherios Venizelos 11:30. Their flight was at 13:00 so they had plenty of time for checking in. We had a farewell photo at the airport and the band thanked us for everything provided during the tour.

Here I need to point out that the Slings on stage and the Slings as people were a completely different thing. Many people in all the shows they did not realize that this cold, still  and distant attitude on stage was a theatrical performance, deliberate enough to create a world of their own. The guys proved that despite being from Iceland (Northeners) they turned out very good natured, polite and above all people who appreciate help and friendship. I am not saying this cause I toured with them, I am saying it because, having met them, I believe everyone in my shoes would say the same thing. Watching from distance and experiencing from the inside are two completely different situations. If we fail to realize this we are led to false conclusions about everything.

words: Pol Lord
pictures: Victor Malkievic

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