On the weekend I headed to Fedora’s Restaurant at The Hilton to watch Loucas Loizou in A Battle of Songs: Greece Versus The USA Over 2000 Shows in London over a delicious meal and a glass of wine. Yes, it’s a long title, but there’s a lot of meaning behind it. Loucas reminds me of the adorable older Greek men who sit by the kafenio (cafe) every day in the Greek villages listening to music, drinking coffee, playing backgammon and smoking the day away like time doesn’t exist. Being of Greek heritage, I felt right at home with traditional music from my homeland as the feature of the evening.
Loucas is a Greek-Cypriot refugee since 1974 and an extremely passionate and talented singer, songwriter and self-taught guitarist who has a very compelling background filled with stories about his childhood, teenage years and adulthood. He begins the show with a little introduction about how he started singing, referring back to himself as an eight year old boy feeling scared as the English bombarded his house in Cyprus. At the time, his brother tried to calm him down by saying ‘when you are scared, sing!’. Those words stuck with Loucas throughout his life, and now he sings to overcome his fear of getting older. From that moment on, I knew this performance would be a somewhat intimate and sentimental journey through Loucas’ personal life, going back to his roots by telling us stories through classic vintage Greek songs by well-known artists like Nana Mouscouri, Mikis Theodorakis and Kostas Hatzis.
After serenading us with songs that I was raised with as a kid, he attempted to convey a similar message by connecting it to an American song, which was done extremely well considering it’s not always easy finding correlations between two diverse languages. A few highlights of Loucas’ English set include ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen, and ‘Lily of the West’ by Bob Dylan. It was fascinating to see a man from such a rich Cypriot heritage take on these popular and timeless tracks that are known worldwide, changing them up to suit his own style and tone. Even the Greek songs that he performed were transformed into a contemporary manner, with simple acoustic guitar leading the way and acting as a mere backdrop for Loucas’ soulful voice. By the end of the performance, I was not only impressed, but my heart was filled with an undefinable lightheartedness that can only be felt by being in the moment.
I’m not surprised that Loucas Loizou continues to wow the crowd after so many shows in Australia and overseas. He was employed by Cat Stevens in London back in the day, studied at the prestigious NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts) in Sydney, and only last year his song ‘Bella Senorita’ was short listed for Eurovision 2016.
To experience it all for yourself, Loucas Loizou will be returning for Festival Hellenika 2017.
We rate: ★★★★ 4/5 stars
Image: Adelaide Fringe