Sunday, September 16, 2007

The rare joy of biting on the Momus tangerine

Yesterday Nicholas Currie, a.k.a. Momus performed in Athens.

I wasn't aware of the fact till last minute, when a friend that knew my fascination for the Momus thing called me up and informed me. At the time I was watching the Eurobasket semifinal where Greece fought bravely against the Spaniards and the referees - and at the end they lost.

At about 10 i was at "Bios" (the venue where the live would take place) but i wasn't till 12 till Nicholas got out on stage. (The picture is from a very nice italian blog called "comme un garcon" - would take some pictures from last night but regretfully my digital camera's battery was dead).

Last time i saw him live was at the cult "An" club, maybe 10 years ago, and i remember sitting at the front row watching him play "The animal that desires" and tears coming down his face. This time he appeared with just a portable mac filled up with mp3s and a microphone that almost didn't work.

Sound quality was so shit, the audience had to shut the fuck up (being noisy - and smoking - are typical Greek habits in live spaces) and the volume had to be higher if you were to be able to listen to anything - but none of it happened. But Nicholas still had his body and his performing talents with him and used both by running among a surprised audience pretending to be a cat while singing "I am a kitten", grabbing chairs and sitting on them, taking drums off the drum set and turning them into improvised tambourines, mimicking rock n' roll or traditional Scottish dance moves in fierce energy, becoming Bowie himself when he played Major Tom, his perfect vibrato making him look almost as good as bowie himself - and artfully blending the classic "Voyager" with "The Windmills of your Mind" in a way that made you feel you were exploding back into a 90s night sky full of possibilities, floating carelessly above dream European cities, where "The Thomas Crown Affair" would be playing on Watchmans in a Place du Tertre little flat or Saint Etienne would sound appropriate playing in an Athenian flat overlooking the city lights. Of course this is but a personal interpretation, cause this is probably how i lived my Momus experience back in the beginning of the 90s, listening to "Summer Holiday 1999", wanting to visit all of the Bretagne lighthouses (only made it till St Malo) and feeling "this rush to live and this wish to die".

There were others there that seemed to know Momus and his songs, and they were there 10 years back at the An club. There was a blond little girl standing close to me in the audience that was looking at him as if he was God himself - and she wasn't the only one. Momus has this effect: once you're a Momus fan, you really fall in love with his universe.

The audience, somehow, at some point shut their mouth and at least half the live took place in less noisy conditions. Requests were mouthed and the predictable I Love yous but i don't need yous (a song that curiously seems to strike some unknown sensitive Greek chord - i even heard this song at parties) and "Hairstyle of the devils" were shouted in a glorious Greek accent.

After about half an hour that Nicholas asked for a guitar, someone (at last) gave him an electric one and he tried playing some guitar-based classics like Lucky like st Sebastian and Murderers the Hope of Women.

He was in great shape and a happy mood, making him laugh at himself when he couldn't find the right chords and would give up laughing. Actually he was, joyfully, like this during the whole set: a guy from another planet (one with a Japanese name), mashing up cultural and musical references like a genius child-anthropologist, orbiting about in his own space, gracefully and playfully, a space just close to ours but a trillion years away from our dirty and shameful reality: the one of our humorless way of dealing with things, of our elections, of our decadent political and social condition, of the green forests turned to black ashes.

Last night would otherwise be indifferent, bleak, ominous, surreal.

But Momus made it radiant, and let us bounce with him on his enormous trampoline: a rare and highly eclectic treat.

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