New Order, Johnny Marr & Morcheeba live in Athens, 16 June 2019

When the Release Festival announced New Order as the headliners for Sunday the 16th of July 2019, I wasn’t happy at all. You see, I always thought NO is a weak band live but most importantly, Monday is a bank holiday and as it’s summertime, it would be better for me to leave Athens for a little 3-day holiday.

But then another announcement came informing us that Johnny Marr is going to perform as well. That changed my initial reaction, as it’s the first time the legendary Smiths guitarist would perform in Greece. His couple of latest solo records were pretty good and a few friends of mine were really impressed by his live sets. So yeah, 3-day holiday was off, I was going to attend the Release Festival instead.

And I was right. Johnny Marr completely stole the show last night. He was simply amazing, one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen. I was lucky to be by the left side of the stage and I could feel the whole energy of Marr and his band, performing solo stuff, Smiths classics, Electronic (Getting Away With Me) and Depeche Mode (I Feel You). And as New Order were the next to go, Bernard Sumner came on stage to sing with Johnny Marr Electronic’s Get the Message. That was the first time in 6 years the two of them were together on a stage!

I personally felt so moved by Marr last night. He’s an unique kind of guitarist, very energetic on stage and providing us a list of songs, that was so well balanced between solo stuff and classics that it was a perfect performance in every sense.

Tracklist

The Tracers
Bigmouth Strikes Again
Armatopia
Day In Day Out
New Dominions
Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before
Hi Hello
Walk Into the Sea
Getting Away With It
Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
Spiral Cities
How Soon Is Now?
Get the Message [with Bernard Sumner]
Easy Money
I Feel You
There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

New Order on the other hand were once again, weak. Disappointing setlist if you ask me, fairly unbalanced – sound wise – between their stuff and their Joy Division takes, and a very weak Sumner voice. Plus concerning their own stuff, the production sounded like one big take – like you were hearing the same sound over and over again. And now that Hooky is not around, there’s no interaction at all. So no, New Order is not a good live act at all. Period.

Tracklist

Singularity
Regret
Restless
She’s Lost Control
Shadowplay
Transmission
Your Silent Face
Bizarre Love Triangle
Subculture
Plastic
The Perfect Kiss
True Faith
Blue Monday
Temptation
Atmosphere
Love Will Tear Us Apart

And a few words about Morcheeba, a very good chill pop band from the 90s. Sadly it’s one of these cases where the big open air venue doesn’t provide the best conditions for some bands, and that was the problem for Morcheeba yesterday. They tried to sound bigger (and rockier) in order to fill that gap but they went down a bit flat. Their take on Bowie’s Lets Dance classic was a good one tough and Skye Edwards did sound and look very beautiful.

Last but not least, after attending two Release Festival dates I can honestly say that I’m pretty impressed with the organisers and how they have taken care of almost everything. Believe me, that’s very rare for Greek standards. Well done Release, looking forward to many more things from you in the future.

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