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Australian Rocker Nick Cave’s Enduring Fascination with Greece

Australian rocker Nick Cave has given by far the most live rock shows in Greece than any other rocker in history.

Nick Cave is in Athens tonight, preparing for yet another live show with his long time band, The Bad Seeds. He is playing the Faliro Sports Pavilion Arena (aka Tae Kwon Do Stadium) and his numerous Greek fans are delirious; as seen on social media.

Cave’s enduring fascination with Greece was kick-started 35 years ago when; as a 25-year-old up-and-comer rock musician, Cave performed live with his short-lived post-punk band The Birthday Party for the first time in Athens.

Rock fans in attendance for the first time, were impressed by the young rockers electric performance and his incredible energy onstage. A rock love affair had just begun.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

In the course of the next 35 years, Cave’s fan base would expand and become solid as a rock. Only Depeche Mode and Bruce Springsteen local fans have exhibited similar dedication to their respective idols over the years.

Through the rocker’s artistic transformations and notable songwriting maturity, his Greek fans have matured and aged along with him. Time and circumstance have not been able to sever this undying bond. More than half of tonight’s audience have probably followed his previous live incarnations in Greece over the past 3 decades.

Far from commercial and superficial, Cave’s connection to Athens has an artistic streak too. While in Athens for a concert in 2011, he witnessed the massive Athens demonstrations on the height of the financial crisis and eventually wrote the song “Lightning Bolts” about it.

“I was in Athens during my tour with my band Grinderman and I was watching Greek protesters on the street,” he told Ethnos newspaper. “I wrote ‘Lightning Bolts‘ for the kids, and our inability to protect them from the world we created for them.” The song was released two years later on the album “Push The Sky Away“.

Among Cave’s most memorable performances in Athens was his first concert with the Birthday Party in September 1982 at Sporting; followed by appearances with The Bad Seeds on November 20 1984, at the Hima Club; September 5, 1987 at Club 22; May 3, 1989 at the legendary Rodon Club; June 16, 1990 at the Lycabetus Theatre; May 1992, at the Sporting Basketball court -a decade after his live debut there-; July 14, 1998 at the high profile Rockwave Festival, and July 2011 with Grinderman.

Nick Cave live in Athens, Rockwave Festival, summer 1998

On his 2011 performance at the Lycabetus Theatre, Cave was accompanied by one of the most accomplished lyra players in the world; Greek musician Psarandonis.

Nick Cave’s love affair with his Greek audience is one of the most enduring and fascinating stories in the local rock and roll landscape – and it shows no signs of slowing down. It’s no wonder that some high profile fans have been suggesting that the Australian rocker be officially awarded the proverbial keys to the city of Athens…

Theo Ioannou :