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On the crest of a wave, Muse set for Athens show October 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Mercury winners Muse perform this Thursday at Terra Vibe in Malakasa, some 40 kilometers north of the capital. The show, according to the event’s local promoter, is scheduled to start at 8.30 p.m.

The English rock trio Muse, a top seller on the contemporary scene, are to perform at Terra Vibe on the outskirts of Athens in Malakasa, some 40 kilometers north, this Thursday evening. Fans should keep in mind the show’s earlier-than-usual start, for Greek standards. As part of its pre-show promotional leadup, the show’s organizer stresses that the open-air venue’s gates will open at 6.30 p.m. with showtime scheduled for 8.30 p.m. The band will be performing in Athens its most recent album, last year’s “Black Holes and Revelations,” having received some of the band’s strongest reviews to date. The album won the band a Mercury Prize, the UK music industry’s most prestigious award.

“Black Holes and Revelations” reached top spot on the UK album charts within a week of release, the band’s second in succession, and also made the top 10 in the USA.

Athens is one of 12 European dates for this latest tour by Muse, and act that has continuously had to battle comparisons to the celebrated Oxford band Radiohead while seeking to create a sound of their own. Now backed by five albums released over the past eight years, Muse’s members, guitarist/vocalist Matthew Bellamy, bassist Chris Wolstenholme, and drummer Dominic Howard, had originally teamed up as teenage friends. After using a number of temporary band names during their formative years, the trio settled on Muse around 1997, two years before the release of their debut album, “Showbiz.” After generating industry buzz early on, the trio from Devon got a taste of bigger things ahead with its first major hit, “Hyper Music” from the album “Origin of Symmetry,” their second full release.

Tickets, priced at 25, 40 and 50 euros, are on sale at Tickethouse, 42 Panepistimiou Street, Athens and through www.ticketpro.gr.

Terra Vibe, 37th km Athens – Lamia National Highway, Malakasa Interchange, tel 210 8155396, http://www.terravibe.gr


Enduring Dutch act Mecano in Greece for two shows October 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Mecano back with new album ‘Those Revolutionary Days’ and two shows in Greece this week > Mecano perform in Athens this Friday at the Gagarin Club and Thessaloniki’s Mylos Club the following evening.

Emerging from the punk era’s darker-sounding side in the late 1970s, Dutch new-wave band Mecano did not take long to make an impression on the contemporary music scene with unorthodox arrangements, unusual guitar harmonies, as well as considerable provocation for their material’s blend. The act’s perception of itself, as a project that is in “constant evolution,” has helped keep it intact over the years. Despite going their separate ways on numerous occasions, the Amsterdam band’s personnel have repeatedly regrouped to work on specific projects. Founding member and frontman Dirk Polak, who is currently based in Athens, will be joined by the act’s other members for two shows in Greece this week, just days after the release of Menaco’s new album, “Those Revolutionary Days.” The new project was presented at a short party launch in Athens last Saturday night, at the Booze Cooperative club, with Polak in attendance.

Propelled by the punk era’s overall momentum, Polak, a lyricist who cites the writings of the early 20th century poet and playwright Vladimir Mayakovsky as a major influence, felt the time was ripe to form his own band. He originally joined forces with early collaborator Pieter Kooyman and several hired musicians to record a single for the No Fun label. Ignited by this initial experience, Polak quickly felt the need to form a real band. The original duo recruited drummer Ton Lebbink, who happened to be working as a bouncer at Amsterdam’s well-known Paradiso club. The bouncer brought to the band a couple more Paradiso employees, the siblings Tejo and Cor Bolten. Besides offering musical ability to the nascent outfit, the arrival of the Bolten brothers gave the band unlimited access to the Paradiso venue, which Mecano regularly used as a rehearsal space during their embryonic days. It was here that the act began experimenting with ideas, mostly around the ideas of Polak and the Bolten duo. Tejo Bolten remains an active member of the band.

Mecano made their stage debut in the summer of 1979 and followed up with frequent touring on the alternative circuit. This early period included an attention-grabbing performance in Paris in 1981, which was covered with enthusiasm by the local press. Not long before that, Mecano released two EPs within a year, followed by a pair of singles, all on the newly established Torso Records, and then chose to disband for the first of many times along what has ultimately amounted into an enduring course.

A smaller version of Mecano’s original lineup, minus Lebbink, the Paradiso club bouncer, gathered for the band’s second round of activity which resulted in the 1983 album “Autoportrait.” Polak’s early collaborator Kooyman contributed to a couple of the album’s songs.

Years later, or more recently, when the band had fallen into an extended hiatus, Tejo Bolten’s growing frustration, fueled by a sense that Mecano had left their artistic task unfinished, brought him and Polak together for 2005’s “Snake Tales For Dragon” album. Mecano presented it along with older material in Athens the following year at the capital’s long-running annual Rockwave Festival.

Tejo Bolten says he was jolted into restarting Mecano following the murder of the Dutch film director Theo van Gogh in 2004 by a radical Islamist who had felt offended by the artist’s stance. According to the band, its new album “Those Revolutionary Days” was conceived as “the scenario for nostalgia enlightened with a modern vision.”

Local Greek band Night On Earth, which released a debut album, a double CD, on Ektopia, a small independent label run by the Athenian venue Small Music Theater, will perform as the opening act for Mecano’s Athens performance.

Friday 5 October at Gagarin Club, Athens; Saturday 6 October at Mylos Club, Thessaloniki.

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Cyprus marked Independence Day on October 1st October 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News.
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cyprus_parade.jpg  October 1st military parade takes place in Nicosia.

The Republic of Cyprus yesterday celebrated the 47th anniversary of the county’s independence from British colonial rule.

To mark this year’s event, President Tassos Papadopoulos, National Guard Commander Lieutenant General Constantinos Bisbikas, Defence Minister Christodoulos Pashiardes, as well as leading Political, Ministerial, Military, Church and Police figures were joined by Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, who was representing the Nation at this year’s parade which took place in the Strovolos area of Nicosia.

The parade featured units of the National Guard, Police, Fire Services, Forestry Department and Civil Defence. Participating in Monday’s parade were infantry, artillery and naval forces and members of the Greek military contingent stationed in Cyprus. For the first time, the MI35 Russian helicopters made a public show, flying over the parading units. Missiles and rocket launchers were also displayed at the parade.

Cyprus gained its independence from Britain on August 16, 1960, but the official celebration was moved to October 1 to take it away from the scorching summer heat. Independence came after a bloody uprising against British colonial rule.

Speaking to reporters after the parade, President Tassos Papadopoulos congratulated the National Guard, and said, “The defence of the National Guard breeds a feeling of safety and gives us the strength to continue our efforts for political negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem”.

Greek Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, who attended the ceremony on behalf of the Greek government, said that cooperation between Greece and Cyprus is “excellent, frank and substantive”.

The Head of the Cyprus Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, spoke about the importance of celebrating as an EU nation and also sent out a message to the refugees saying that they had the support of the Church which will continue to work towards reuniting the people.

Prize-winning British author James Meek visits Greece October 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life, Books Life Greek.
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Prize-winning British author James Meek author of compelling novel ‘The People’s Act of Love’ visits Greece > James Meek’s ‘The People’s Act of Love’ (Canongate, 2005) was translated into Greek by Maria Zachariadou for Ellinika Grammata.

Siberia during the Russian Revolution is the setting for James Meek’s latest novel, “The People’s Act of Love,” winner of the 2006 Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award and the 2006 Ondaatje Prize.

In that harsh, remote landscape, a singular cast plays out the extremes of human emotion and belief. A Jewish lieutenant in a Czech legion stranded by the fortunes of war, a sect of Christians who seek purity through castration, a woman who flouts convention in the pursuit of love, and a man who claims to have escaped both a prison camp and a would-be cannibal, encounter what the author calls “life’s absolute tests.”

Meek, author of three novels and two collections of short stories, also worked as a reporter for 20 years, winning awards for his articles on places such as Guantanamo Bay and Iraq. He contributes to the Guardian, the London Review of Books and Granta.

Meek is currently visiting Greece as the guest of the British Council and his Greek publishers Ellinika Grammata.

Meet James Meek today at the British Council in Thessaloniki, 9 Ethnikis Amynas Street, at 7.30p.m., and tomorrow in Athens, 17 Kolonaki Square, Kolonaki, at 8 p. m.

Greek basketball star Giorgos Sigalas retires October 2, 2007

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Greek basketball star Giorgos Sigalas, an emblematic figure in the sport’s resurgence here during the 90s, announced his retirement at a news conference in Athens yesterday.

Sigalas, 36, who represented the Greek team 185 times, played in six consecutive Eurobasket tournaments betwen 1993 and 2003. He won five consecutive Greek league titles with Olympiakos, beginning in 1993, as well as league-and-cup titles in 1993 and 1997, the year when the club was also crowned European Champion. Other clubs in his career included Stefanel Milano, Aris, PAOK, Granada, Regio Calabria, Makedonikos and Panionios.

Opening up EU state mail to competition October 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Living.
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EU Telecommunications Ministers gave the green light yesterday to end state monopolies for delivering letters, the European Union’s Presidency announced.

The measure will come into effect on January 1, 2011, although 11 EU member states will get a two-year grace period, said Herve Novelli, French Minister of State for businesses and foreign trade, after reaching agreement with his EU colleagues over lunch.

The EU-27 were to formally rubber-stamp the deal during their afternoon session in Luxembourg. “Some countries wanted to move faster,” said Novelli, but the Ministers above all wanted to reach a compromise which could be agreed unanimously, he added.

If a member state wishes to end the state monopoly earlier, as has been the case in some countries, they are at liberty to do so. The 11 nations who do not have to enact the measure until December 31, 2012 are: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, all EU newcomers who have joined since 2004, plus Greece and Luxembourg.

The European postal sector was opened to competition 10 years ago for the delivery of packages weighing more than 350 grams. The measure was extended in 2003 to items of more than 100 grams and in 2006 to letters weighing more than 50 grams. The European Commission had proposed to do away with state monopolies for the delivery of letters weighing less than 50 grams by 2009 while guaranteeing postal delivery services throughout each country.

The European Union’s executive arm is eager to build on the perceived success of the United Kingdom, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden, which have already opened their postal market to competition.

Plans for a Balkan child alert center October 2, 2007

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Greek Police and child protection groups are to cooperate with their regional counterparts in establishing a Balkan center for missing and abused children, it was revealed yesterday.

The initiative, discussed during a seminar in Athens attended by police and experts from 16 countries, was prompted by a reported increase in the number of children abducted for sexual and financial exploitation in Bulgaria and Romania.

“Disappearances and the exploitation of minors are cross-border problems and demand cooperation,” a senior Greek officer said.

The center is to be based on the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which brings together police from Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. A drive by the Greek police and child protection groups, launched in May, has handled 11 cases of child disappearances or abuse successfully, the officer said.

Meanwhile in Lisbon, European Ministers backed an EU-wide alert system for missing children involving media campaigns.