Apodimi Compania review – Masters of Greek rebetika impress in Sydney

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Review by Tom Alegounarias*

Apodimi Compania, The Greek Art Theatre on April 23, Presented by Greek Fringe

I couldn’t, in fairness to them, use Apodimi Compania’s own description of their music as ‘folk music’ to describe their performance of various forms of Greek songs in Marrickville on Sunday evening. It is correct, of course. But it doesn’t at all capture the sharp impact of their music and their performance in the moment.

Do not think floral embroidery and sunshine harvests. Think hashish dens, dangerous romances, wailing pleas and erotic glances. And think thrashing, piercing strings. If Apodimi Compania are making a point it is that this music, and the attitude that goes with it, are not of another time. This music is of now and tomorrow, as much as of whenever it may have been written. 

On Sunday evening in a grungy theatre shack, down the street from Sydney’s coolest pub in the ‘world’s coolest suburb,’ within a tequila shot glass toss of a dozen hipster breweries, Apodimi Compania showed them all up to be pretenders.

The Greek Fringe team behind the concert.

Apodomi Compania are loud and vibrant. The voices are tremulous and urgent. The songs are in eastern and western scales, and there’s a physicality in the expressiveness that has travelled originally from the sub-continent, and makes you shift in your seat.

At the centre of the group of five is Chrysoula Kechagioglou. I’m sure it’s unfair on the leadership and virtuosity of the others (Yiannis Niarhos, Vangelis Votteas, Manolis and George Galiastos), to single her out. But her red dress, black stocking, grooving presence in the centre of the stage, makes my point. No grim earnestness here. No inter-generational educative self-consciousness. Just art with cultural texture. And the aesthetic pleasures inherent in great performance.

Another great gig, Greek Fringe.     

*Tom Alegounarias is a Professor of Education, The University of Sydney and Former President of The Board of Studies.

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