18 years after the Rolling Stones incident in Panathinaikon Stadium, this same stadium would hold the greatest musical event ever to take place in Greece.
In 1985, the Ministry of Culture, in association to the newly-formed Ministry of New Generation of Greece and the French Ministry of Culture, decided to have a two-day rock festival in Athens.
Back then, the Greek minister of culture was the actress Melina Merkouri, a member of the “socialist” government, which helped, in a way, the festival “Rock In Athens” to take shape.
After the fest, It was very funny to see Nina Hagen kissing and hugging Merkouri…but…anyways.
The festival dates: July 26 and July 27. The ticket price was 1500 drachmas for one day or 2000 for both days and the bandlist consisted of:
- July 26: Culture Club, Depeche Mode, Stranglers (the ticket also mentions Brigades Musicalles, which was the parody rock greek band Mousikes Taxiarhies. In the end they refused to take part in the event.)
- July 27: Nina Hagen, the Cure, Talk Talk and the french band Telephone. (The ticket also mentions a “guest star” which turned out to be the Clash).
We were surprised by the presence of so many…”punk rockers”…well, many people were dressed as punks or new wavers for the occasion…the punks were not more than 500 in Athens back in those days.
Here, it seemed like they were…millions…
So, the Stranglers started the show on the first day, they did all right, I was in the mosh pit and I still remember someone throwing a slipper (!!) at Jean Jacques Burnel.
Stranglers Midnight Summer Dream (Greek TV)
Depeche Mode went on stage when night came so I pulled back (i was never a fan of theirs).
When Culture Club went on, all Hell broke loose. First there was a black singer singing (never got his name) and when Boy George showed up, plastic bottles full of water or sand were thrown by the audience.
John Moss threw his drumsticks at the audience and Boy George kept his attitude saying, “If I was a bad lady I would have shown you my ass…” Truth be told, this band’s performance was excellent. Very good musicians.
Telephone opened the next day. I didn’t pay much attention but Talk Talk really shook my boots off. Man, these guys were really great. I knew them from a couple of songs but, man, they were something.
Talk Talk – Rock In Athens (Greek TV)
The next act came from The Cure, and although they didn’t have a strong fan-base in Greece just yet, I assume this gig, and the ones which followed during the next 22 years, really helped them to establish their name in Greece.
I found their playlist of that day on their site and the following is their tracklist:
- the glove – relax
- the baby screams
- play for today
- kyoto song
- the hanging garden
- inbetween days
- let’s go to bed
- the walk
- one hundred years
- give me it
- a forest
- three imaginary boys
- 10.15 saturday night
- killing an arab
The Cure – Rock In Athens (Greek TV)
Nina Hagen followed with a big flying saucer on stage (sic) and then came the Clash.
The last line up of this great…huge…band. Only Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon were there from the original line up but…they were great.
The audience went insane.
There were people out of the stadium trying to get in for free. The cops started beating them and chasing them in the streets but inside everybody was dancing and singing, etc. I will never forget, I think I saw Pete Burns somewhere at one point…I was sure it couldn’t be him…
There never was a Rock In Athens Vol. 2.
Even if the tickets were a bit expensive back then, I sometimes compare those prices with today.
Take a look and keep calm:
Madonna (coming in September 2008) -
The cheapest ticket sells for 80 euros — for singing with her 300 euros.
Jennifer Lopez (coming within the next 2-3 months) -
The cheapest ticket for j lo is 60 euros — for dancing with her 350 euros.
(Ok, skip the singing and the dancing part…I mean the cost of the most expensive tickets.)
Now compare this with the lowest paying wage of a Greek worker per month: about 700 euros.