“the air fall to the ground again…”
Amazing how a boring gloomy Monday can turn into magic through an underground gig that offered us some dark tales (and yes, it was also the Halloween night). Munly J Munly arrived in Athens with his project Munly & the Lupercalians and the venue filled with dark americana while the sad melodies created a unique eerie transcendent experience. But of course at the same top level was the opening act, Manos Six + The Muddy Devil, a great duo from Athens that gave us a great performance during the presentation of their debut album.
“evil is the law…”
The door opened at 20:30 and this caused a delay on the schedule but this is something we are used of in Greece although this is bad choice from the organizers because a lot of people prefer to stay at home when an event is taking place during the week.
That’s what I was thinking during the dead hour as I was staring at the beautifully decorated stage that was full of nice skulls and huge goat-like heads. Nice setup that matched nicely with the Halloween night while the music from the decks also made similar atmosphere. But nothing suggested what was about to follow, even for those of us that we saw MANOS SIX + THE MUDDY DEVIL live on stage a few months ago when they opened for Shattered Hope here on the same spot.
“lucifer embrace my soul…”
This time they gave a release show of their debut album “Swamp Suicide”, an album that I played non stop during the summer due to its digital release but this night was the official cd release (although the cult tape was released some months ago, again by FYC Records). The band had a rich merch desk too with several nice items but yes, the important thing is the music and hell yeah, when the first melodies came out of the banjo the trip to the swamp begun with Manos on the vocals sharing with us dark tales about life, death and the devil, you know what I’m talking about, like the tales that can be heard when the darkness falls and you sit next to the fire in the woods (something that actually happened in the middle of their set when the stage lights turned off and there was only a small fire in front of the stage). Most of us were familiar with the songs of the album but it was also impressive their cover on “You Are My Sunshine” that we have heard many times from hundreds of different artists through the years but for the first in such a contrast between the happy lyrics and the dark approach of the band (although if you think about it the lyrics are actually on the sad side too). And this is the most interesting thing with Manos Six + The Muddy Devil, they managed to carry the aesthetics of a black metal band into some dark americana/death country path and at the end they bring out the same impact without the guitar distortion of an extreme metal band.
Let me also say that although in the studio is mainly acoustic duo (Manos Six on vocals, banjo, percussion and Stamos Abatis on acoustic bass) on stage they have several great guest musicians like Jan Westermann(Kawir / Abyssus) on percussion, Elena Malamou on banjo and Gina Selini on keyboards.
live video MANOS SIX+MUDDY DEVIL:
Manos Six+The Muddy Devil setlist: Evil is the Law (intro) / Lucifer / Devil take me by the hand / Sound of the dead / Willow tree / Sunshine / Hell is the Law / Fire / Ain’t no grave
“black dirt, ever more…”
After the great performance of the opening act it took me a little while to be in the appropriate sense of anticipation for the headliner of the night. But on 22:30 MUNLY & THE LUPERCALIANS got on stage for their own dark tales. We are indeed fortunate that organizers bring such great acts because usually we focus on the mainstream but it’s sometimes the underground that hides all the secrets. You know, that magic communion of a special gig that can really give you everything you may ask from a live performance.
Munly is a special person and artist, doesn’t expose himself much on social media as he prefers to let his music projects talk instead of him. This year he activated Lupercalians and released the second album with them, twelve years after their debut and once more this is a great example of dark americana. Stage setup was unique again and easily put you in a specific mood away from the ordinary rock band setup, Manly was sitting in the middle with his guitar while on the sides and back four grotesque figures were adding to his compositions the necessary keys and percussion although we couldn’t see their faces as they were wearing some pagan masks.
“are you afraid of the blame?…”
Their setlist was based on the new album with some additions from the past but it was a great performance no matter what they played. Munly doesn’t write happy songs and he always stands along with those in need of a society that keeps been unfair with many people. So, it makes sense that he is not into mainstream and the easy success. The venue got filled with crushed chords and the sad melodies because the ideal soundtrack. Even those who weren’t familiar with his music could easily follow his vision, the trippy feeling of his compositions, composition with some kind of crumpled structure that have nothing superfluous, some keys over here, some percussion over there and his voice of course (that moves from deep chants to haunting treble) along with the necessary backing vocals by Rebecca Vera on crucial parts of the show that make some songs better but everything seemed to be part of an hypnotic ritual away from the urban landscape.
I could see his face twitched at some moments, which means he could really feel deep inside every lyric he bring on stage from someone that knows that this is the only way to perform. Unfortunately, all good things must end at some point and they had no other songs prepared or they would have continued. This left us with an empty feeling but we must not be selfish, music is not like sports or something, we must learn to get satisfaction from quality and not quantity. A great night!
live video Munly & the Lupercalians:
Munly & The Lupercalians setlist:
Ahmen / Mattie / Ben Asher / Big Black Bull Comes Like a Caesar / Döder / Cat / Jehu / “That Birdcage Song” / Grandfater / Haggle Hennie‘s Almost Dirty Dress / Scarebeast / Shout at the Devil / Polpot
® κείμενο/φωτογραφίες/video: Konstantinos Mindcrimek Vlachos