by Paris Gravouniotis
Since the announcement of the concert, we had known from the beginning that the combination of Agusa / Ciccada seemed ideal for the fans of 70s prog and the two bands are committed body and soul to the artistic heritage of the legendary decade. Therefore, having watched them both live, it was unlikely for the concert to be anything less than excellent. First, I need to emphasize that I have not had the opportunity to attend at Death Disco before, a venue with 80s darkwave themes and aesthetics. After wandering in the streets of Psirri in order to be able to find it (as I was disoriented), I got there exactly at the time the doors opened.
Without the slightest delay, just a quarter of an hour later, Ciccada came on stage. The first thing that struck me was the enhanced line-up to the delight of a better performance of their demanding but exceptional material. Evangelia Kozoni (vocals, accordion) was on the side of the lead singer Dimitra Spela, while the guest appearance of Marietta Tsakmakli on saxophone and flute added depth and melodiousness to the musical requirements of Nikolas Nikolopoulos (flute, keyboards, Mellotron) and George Mucha (guitars), with the valuable contribution of the formidable rhythm section of John Iliakis and Angelos Mal. The first notes of A Night Ride, the song that opens the excellent The Finest Of Miracles, put us all at once into the musical universe of Ciccada. Prog folk melodies that bring to mind of Jethro Tull, Gryphon and Renaissance, symphonic mentality and perfection, rare even for world class bands.
My personal favourite Around The Fire with the irresistible melodies and sweet interpretation of Spela Dimitra, was the second representative of their last album. The best impressions were of the two pieces that make up this year’s their 12’’ Tales. The Ring, A Child, A Laugh is one more irresistible Ciccada composition with all those features that make them unique, while A Dream In The Realm Of Shadows is characterized by a darker approach that is not usual of them, but however suits them most. At this point we have to mention that we have met both pieces in the past as The Statement and She Went For Love respectively in two collections of Musea, entitled The Stories Of H.P. LoveCraft and Decameron Ten Days In 100 Novellas. Their set ended in warm applause with Epirus from their debut A Child In The Mirror.
After the flawless appearance of Ciccada it was the turn of the Swedish psych / progsters. Those who were lucky enough to see them live in February at Six d.o.g.s., knew very well what would follow. The magic thing with Agusa is that their studio compositions are merely the basis for the material they perform on stage. The tracks are enriched by unprecedented jamming, they change structure, “are stretched out” always in a good sense and acquire another dimension.
The sound was perfect despite the minor problems at the start, and on stage they were complementary to each other in a unique way having great chemistry and fun. The sweet Jenny Puertas stole the show, both with her kind presence and with melodies from her flute, while their guitarist Mikael Ödesjö with his robust presence seemed to be the maestro who was guiding them.
The vintage keys by Jonas Berge filled the space and the flawless rhythm section of Tim Wallander and Tobias Petterson gave the pace for the next musical journey that they were constantly willing to offer us. Although the changed Uti Var Fage from their debut Högtid and Ganglat Fran Vintergatan from Två (something like Fly To The Rainbow in its impressive finale) with their Scandinavian folk melodies, the prog growth and their psychedelic character impressed us and seduced us, the top moment of their live was two new compositions that keep the jamming element that puts them at the top in the modern prog scene. As they pointed out, they have not yet found titles to dress their songs! After the completion of their set and watching the audience being excited and not leaving, they caught their instruments again and played an extended version of Karlek Fran Agusa, similar to this year’s live release, Katarsis. A great appearance by the Swedes who delighted everyone and enjoyed it themselves too (their attachment to our country is now more that evident).
A total of about two and a half hours filled with music out of the best moments of the 70s, played by two authentic and talented bands that set the example and pride for the prog rock of our days. Unfortunately, the turnout for such a live was once again low, but the passion and intensity of those who attended this, outweighed this fact that tends to become permanent.
Photos: Artemis Kondilopoulou artemis-schubert.com