Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Santa Semeli's Birthday Show-the nearest I'll get to the Cabaret Voltaire.

Photo by Roger Eaton.
Santa Semeli's Birthday Show at The Macbeth on 27 April was an event that managed to combine the Dadaist's love of the absurd, modern progressive Rap and a set by Santa Semeli and the Monks showcasing just how far they have come in a few months.

Maybe it was the venue, maybe my own preoccupations but watching The Euromen felt like the nearest I will ever come to realising what the atmosphere and content of the early Dadaist events at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich* must have been like! One man claiming to be Icelandic was wearing a small Viking helmet, a Nordic jumper and shorts, another older man who seemed to be Polish was wearing a t-shirt and too baggy Y-fronts. They introduced themselves as The Euromen and then proceeded to give a child like enactment of a Nordic legend about a Hero, a bridge and a Shape Shifter. This was narrated in English by the 'Icelander' and translated for any one who spoke Polish but not English by the older man-it was utterly bizarre, amusing and absurd in the best sense of the word. Later they re-emerged to give a curious interpretation of Miley Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video- fortunately my view was obscured.

Next up was rapper Sean Dean. My knowledge of Rap is poor, I love 'The Message' by GrandMaster Flash and I like what I've heard of Public Enemy (are they Rap?) but to me Sean Dean sounded as good musically as the Rap I hear on daytime Radio 1 and lyrically he was interesting and intelligent. His set included songs dealing with spiritual struggle, childhood memories, addiction-I couldn't see any reason why he shouldn't do well.

"It's my party and I'll...sing if I want to" If you are in a band and you decide to have a birthday gig, it is only right that you play, and Santa Semeli and the Monks did! I saw them towards the end of last year on a weekday near Kings Cross and despite it being a quiet evening they were good, interesting, and intriguing. They have come on in leaps and bounds in a few short months! Their song writing is brave and diverse and has resulted in an exciting collection of work that, while being coherent, contains plenty of surprises as they veer between Rock and European avant garde. They chose tonight to premiere three new songs  ('Hypocrisy, FMT, I'm Your Queen) which added to the overall strength of their set. The Monks would be an excellent band whoever was singing but in Semeli Economou they have an exciting front woman with a great voice who draws on her Drama training to communicate the songs in a powerful way. Sounding like 'Cabaret' rewritten by Nick Cave and an early David Bowie (the latter due largely to Gaspar Hunt's excellent keyboard playing) they are a band who explore the human condition and are certainly worth checking out.

As Birthday parties go this will be one I remember!

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