As for Irena Žilić, I had to meet her for the first time live last night and I was not at all dissapointed.
Irena Žilić is a singer-songwriter active for about a year and you can check her official page here and download great EP Days of Innocence (2012) from her bandcamp page. I first heard about her around New Year's eve and shortly after that Pavlov wrote on Potlista lovely and engaging article on her work and EP. She has had quite a bit of gigs this year but somehow I never got to see them and I was not happy with this as I really enjoyed her recorded music. Finally MIMO brought her to me, just as it should be with best Croatian contemporary independent performers.
Attractive and kind, with an uncanny feel of someone who genuinely enjoys making music and making it so it conforms with her internal auditory standard of excellence, she is quite a sight to take in and enjoy. It was both beautifully endearing to see and hear her perform for us as it was exquisitely interesting; "fresh" performers always look so cute and genuinely human going through new experiences right before the audience eyes - they play for the crowd that is right in front of them (seemingly forgetting radio audience), they ask things like one human being asks another (not like a star would ask his target group/fan base), they are vulnerable and wonderful in their trust - and Irena was magnifficent at all this.
After few songs she asked us, the audience in Gorgona, to help her greet her international audience:
"Can I ask you something?" she said. "Don't worry - you won't have to sing or clap or anything like that." she laughed and paused...: "Since I know some people outside Croatia are watching this streaming on the Internet I would like you to help me say hello to them. I will say 1,2,3 and we'll all say "Hola!" OK? Will you help me do this?"
... and we laughed and we were endeared and we helped...
1, 2, 3,... Hola!
... and it was engaging and beautiful.
She played her songs in slow succession, adjusting the sound of her guitar before each new song and it felt lovely and organic and just as it should be for someone who enjoys her craft. In some songs Luce (her friend who we should thank for getting Irena to step up and perform publicly) came to the stage and sang back vocals and they were both marvellous.
And after a short break in which our lovely MIMO hostess Jelena Balent talked with Maja from U pol 9 kod Sabe and Aleksandar Dragaš...
... stage was re-set and musicians assembled so Radost! could overtake the party. Just like every single time I've listened to them live, and I have seen them 10 or so times live, they have again met my expectations and effortlessly exceeded them. Seriously, until you've seen flamboyant and expressionistic peformance Branko and the gang give you cannot appreciate their music in the real light nor give credit to ridiculously over-the-top obscenities used in their poetics.
Since I feel my enthusiasm with last night's performance is such I would likely describe and tell verbatim everything that happened in chronological order and that would be just too much information I will limit myself to few short sketches:
Most of the songs they played are quite new and most from their latest selfreleased album Radost! jede svoju djecu (Joy! eats its young) that you can download here from their bandcamp page but there were few oldies but goldies from their previous albums.
I loved how their sound is now full, vivacious and interwoven with jazzy and orchestral arrangements - the transition from almost bare spoken word, firm rock guitar and rare real funkiness of funky style from their begginings in 2006 is ginormous - bearing true mark of maturity, both musical and personal for band members and it is a wonderful, comforting sight and acoustic picture.
They performed my absolutely favorite song Kako je divan, oh, taj Gorski Kotar with changed lyrics. Since the song is full of obscenities and it was now being played live on Radio Sljeme they have, in honor of their hosts and of Museum of Contemporary Art, changed all obscene and doubious words to names of Croatian contemporary atrists, including Gorgona group (since gig is held in Gorgona hall) and some more artists because Gorgona group was too small to cover all of their... needs.
They had help from U pol 9 kod Sabe girls on coulple of songs (including Raslinje and U biti, nisam izašao iz jajeta) and it was a great sight. It was even more scenically and emotionally appealing then Bogunovic brothers and band doing it alone since girls bring wonderful chemistry to stage and also seem to genuinely enjoy Radost! music.
This time, I had foresight of expectations so I arranged everything in my favor meaning I found myself a cozy dancing spot so I can enjoy this to the maximum while enjoying perfect sound of this theatrical space with immaculate acoustics.
And lastly, I cannot believe that they managed to go through their whole set, including encore, and that noone from the audience yelled "Mišo!" (their wildly popular drummer).
I can hardly wait to see what alse MIMO has prepared for us so join me Friday May 24th in wonderful Gorgona hall at MSU and see how Bamwise and Surka will fare. See you there!