Daemonia_Nymphe_live_photoIt’s been almost 7 years since I last saw Daemonia Nymphe performing live their albums at Gialino Music Theatre in Athens. I still think that this gig was perfect in terms of overall performance, stage appearance and communication with the audience.

Back then, Daemonia Nymphe collaborated with different musicians and also their sound was not as developed as it is now. Since then I have attended several other events in London and the theatrical performance entitled ‘Orestia’ at the Riverside Studios for which the band composed original music.

The live at Lexington aimed at celebrating 10 years of live performances in Europe thus the setlist included songs from all the albums of the band. The support musicians were Seventh Harmonic and cellist Jo Quail.

Even though I was too late for Jo Quail’s set, I know that she is a rising musician who plays electronic cello, has collaborated with Rose McDowall among others and together with Matt Howden (Sieben) they have formed Rasp. As Matt Howden, she is composing the songs Jo_Quail_live_photolive on stage starting by playing a first phrase and recording it using a loop pedal. This phrase continues to be audible as Jo is already playing the next phrase on the cello which is then recorded and added to the first one. In my opinion the result is mediocre especially compared with the music of Matt Howden and Laura Moody, who using the same technology experiment more, add vocals and create original musical pieces with distinct characteristics. This way of live music composition is characteristic of a relatively new trend in music. It is an alternative way of making a musician sound and be perceived as a whole band. Having attended several live gigs I concluded that this is indeed a creative way of musical composition which offers a unique experience provided that all of its potential is used to its maximum. We will be waiting for the development of talented Jo Quail who apart from writing music for film and theatre companies, has also participated in the Wave Gotik Treffen in 2011.


Next on stage was Seventh Harmonic with a new singer since May 2013, Liza Graham, without male vocals or Fréderique Henrottin playling the harpe as in some of their past Seventh_Harmonic_live_photolive concerts. In the past both Spyros Giasafakis and Paul Nemeth have contributed vocals in albums and some live performances of the band. Both male voices enriched the sound when their voices were combined with the ethereal female vocals. It’s been 3 years since the last live performance of the band and this was their first one with Liza Graham. Therefore some degree of nervousness on stage was expected. Overall I was left with the impression that I was listening to a new band which hasn’t worked much together and not one with 13 years of history. All the songs were performed in the same way with the same dynamic as if they were different versions of the same song. In my opinion the band’s dynamic and expressive stage appearance seemed to be left in the past.

Caroline Jago playing bass and electric drums was the only member who demonstrated dynamism by changing positions on stage. Her inventiveness was also revealed when she was playing the bass with a fiddle stick. There was an awkward moment during the live set when Liza Seventh_Harmonic_Caroline_Jago_live_photopresented the song that would follow; it was supposed to be one of the first songs of the band whose lyrics celebrated life. As Liza explained, the version of the song that we would listen would be about death instead. I must admit that this seemed very strange to me. At the front, people lost their interest and the impatience of listening to Daemonia Nymphe was growing as minutes passed.

While the three female singers of Daemonia Nymphe were approaching the stage I could hear people next to me saying to each other ‘Oh I love those masks…’ while the atmosphere was electrifying. When the first notes of ‘Zephyros Enlightening Anemos’ were heard, people started dancing and being carried away by the atmospheric music. The next songs of the setlist were ‘Daemonos’ and a different version (compared to the album) of ‘Improvisation in ancient greek lyra’. In between these songs another mystic presence appeared on stage.It was Denise Moreno, a talented actress which I had the chance to see perform in the theatrical performance of ‘Orestia’ in Riverside Studios. During this live at The Lexington she appeared as some kind of mythical creature which through movement, offered quite a Daemonia_Nymphe_live_photounique emotional load and different aesthetics to each of the songs that were performed. The antitheses between the music and its interpretation through movement from Denise Moreno were very interesting and the stage lighting was carefully designed by Yiannis Katsaris so as to put emphasis not only on her figure but also on the different objects that she was using. Later at home I tried to interpret her movements and that’s when I realised that there was an underlying intention throughout her performance. Her aim was to seduce, so all the seemingly violent and sharp movements combined with the subtler and calmer ones aimed at luring us to somewhere else using the songs of Daemonia Nymphe as the necessary musical background. At some point between ‘Nocturnal Hecate’, ‘Sirens of Ulysses’, ‘Nemesis Rhamnousia’ and ‘Selene’s Awakening Horos’ I came to the conclusion that in terms of aesthetics, Denise Moreno was the equivalent of the wonderful Valentina from ‘The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus’. So even though she differed from the rest of the band, I Daemonia_Nymphe_live_photobelieve that the overall quality of the live performance of Daemonia Nymphe wouldn’t be complete without her. Besides, the band has always included performers in their live concerts as a way of simulating the effect that the Greek Chorus had in ancient drama and in theatrical performances which focused on Greek mythology. This element is seldom so well integrated in a live music performance and this is one more element that makes the band unique. The sound was perfect throughout the Lexinton and the different floor levels offered to everyone a nice view of the whole stage.At the end of each song the audience was cheering and enthusiastically applauding everybody. The performance was faultless and the energy was enveloping even the most composed personality. At different parts of the space people were dancing in ways that gave the impression that even though their bodies were there, their minds have travelled to different worlds.

Daemonia_Nymphe_live_photoDaemonia Nymphe have a lot of instruments at their disposal and the setlist determines which of them will be used for each performance. These instruments are the creations of Nikolaos Brass and the ones that were used this time and impressed the audience were the ancient lyre, the bagpipe, rattles, and tambouras which is of Byzantine origin. Audiences are not used to listening such original instruments with such a unique structure playing live and at times everyone seemed overwhelmed. The setlist also included older songs such as ‘Summoning Divine Selene’ and ‘Dance of the Satyrs’ from the first album of the Daemonia_Nymphe_live_photoband, ‘Divide by Trophonios’ and ‘Tyrvasia’ from ‘The Bacchic Dance of the Nymphs- Tyrvasia’, ‘Nemesis Rhamnousia’ and one of my favourites ‘ Nature’s Metamporphosis’ from the latest album ‘Psychostasia’.I was not impressed by the version of ‘Tracian Gaia’ which was sung with female instead of male principal vocals but I thought that the performance of ‘Psychostasia’ was much better than the one in the cd.

At this point it should be noted that apart from Evi Stergiou, the female vocals that participated in the album ‘Psychostasia’ were not those who were presentat the live at Lexington. This album was recorded in three different cities in Greece and the UK where some of the musicians live permanently therefore it is difficult to perform it with the original musicians every time. Rey Yusuf and Tanya Jackson performed all the songs as Daemonia_Nymphe_live_photoif they were involved originally in the creation of the respective albums. Apart from Evi Stergiou who always establishes a direct communication with the audience by revealing her sincere positive feelings as a response to the audience’s approval and continuous applause, Rey Yusuf came out as a very sympathetic singer with engaging stage appearance. She approached all the songs Daemonia_Nymphe_live_photothat she performed with sensitivity and was constantly communicating with the audience and the rest of the band. Near the end of the performance the band had a surprise for us, the appearance on stage of Peter Ulrich a former member of Dead Can Dance who accompanied the band by playing darbuka, which is a goblet shaped drum mostly associated with the music traditions of Middle East, Eastern Europe and North Africa. As if his presence was the motivation that everyone was looking for, almost all the musicians turned toward him while performing. It was the first time that the band faced each other and were playing together with Peter Ulrich 40unfinwhile Daemonia_Nymphe_Peter_Ulrich_live_photothey exchanged sights of mutual respect and acknowledgment of quality. This moment along with the one where Tanya Jackson and Evi Stergiou were tuning another unusual instrument created moments of fascination on stage which made the performance gain even more quality as it progressed.

A few more details about the venue…

Overall I believe that this stage proved to be too small for a band with so many members as Daemonia Nymphe and apart from the area where Denise MorenoDaemonia_Nymphe_live_photo was able to move, the rest of the musicians seemed not to have enough space even for making the necessary changes of instruments. Environmental conditions in the space proved to be almost dangerous causing a few people to feel unwell especially when the ventilation stopped working in the middle of the concert while the space was full with people. Some of us had to open the emergency exit door every now and then in order to breathe some fresh air. I must admit that this negligence came as a surprise to me especially since this country takes the public’s health and safety very seriously. In addition to this, when Daemonia Nymphe started playing on stage, some irrelevant music could be listened from speakers close to the stage. This left a bad impression to the audience especially since it didn’t happen to any of the support bands. After two polite recommendations from Evi Stergiou, a technician addressed the problem without apologising openly to the audience and the musicians.

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This however, didn’t spoil the quality of the music nor the unique atmosphere that was created by all the bands and we are all looking forward to the next live performance by Daemonia Nymphe as their melodies always transfer us to worlds and places which always surpass any negative aspect of any particular venue. Besides London seems to be reverberating after ‘Psychostasia’- The performance’ as well since I have witnessed at least two conversations inside buses and the tube about the band, the significance of their music and their unique live appearances. So overall once thing is sure, that Daemonia Nymphe have given us a lot to think about until their next appearance.


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