Outside the temperature is still sitting at a balmy 25 and inside there is an ambience just as warm. Though Militiadou has had little in the way of press or publicity campaigns, a successful bid to play support for Marina and the Diamonds in Sydney has been the latest in a series of profile-increasing events and tonight’s sold out show is likely to be another stepping stone to fame.
With a stage setup reversing the venue’s layout, it’s a strange but homely design that suits the vocal and supportive tightly packed crowd.
Dancing Heals are, musically, a strange mix of derivative American indie-rock and fantastically rough vocal harmonies. Singer John-Lee Farrell and co-songwriter Daniel Trakell use their complimentary writing and vocals styles to lift the band up above the comparisons that some songs suggest. Elements of The Lemonheads, Broken Social Scene and Mumford and Sons push through the showmanship of Farrell which serves as much as distracts from the songs themselves. The band, however, are tight and flesh the songs out with style and energy to burn.
Though the crowd clearly like Dancing Heals, the room bursts to life as Miltiadou takes to the stage wearing a band of white carnations in her hair and a sheer pink pleated dress. Kicking off with On Our Way the initially striking aspects are Miltiadou’s piercing Brit-School-influenced voice, her commanding stage presence and the phenomenal tightness of her four-piece band. Heavy on the percussion and rubbery basslines Miltiadou’s arrangements are breathtaking in their speed, dynamic shifts and addictive complexity.
Eminently danceable, it’s when Miltiadou sends her yearning tones over irresistible rhythms, slows down the mile-a-minute Kate Nash stream-of-consciousness and lets some space creep in as on Stepping Stone and the phenomenal All Across The Night that the band truly gel. A cover of Kings of Leon’s Milk leaves the original a stolid po-faced bore when compared to Miltiadou’s joyous calypso reinvention and the crowd respond with ever-louder cheers and more vibrant dancing.
Though there is a proclivity for covers (Beyonce and Aretha also get a makeover), the band’s originals shine through and suggest that there is much more than a good party band here. Miltiadou’s refusal to shorten or change her name shows a headstrong confidence reflected in her singing and it’s likely to guarantee some obsessive fans later. All together, it’s a stunning show and it’s unlikely they’ll play such a small room again.