Three great songsters unite for radio station’s birthday

he Athens-based radio station Melodia 99.2 FM, whose focus on quality Greek music – a considerable amount of it modern – has established it as one of the capital’s leading radio frequencies, will celebrate its 15th anniversary of operations with two concerts early next week, featuring three of the scene’s brightest acts. The occasion will draw to the stage, together for the very first time, the trio of Haris Alexiou, Socrates Malamas and Alkinoos Ioannidis for individual plunges into their own sets as well as combined efforts at the open-air Lycabettus Theater in Athens this coming Monday and Tuesday. All three acts will be performing on both nights. Alexiou, a veteran on the domestic scene, emerged as a recording artist in the early 1970s, after having worked the stage for a few years. Her sensual and dynamic vocal delivery in a prolific body of work rank her as a modern classic in Greek music. Though more recent by comparison, the songsmith Malamas has established one of this country’s most loyal followings with a distinctive songwriting style and fine musicianship that have blended Greek music with an elusive tinge from the West. Since his 1989 debut album «Aspromavres Istories» (Black and White Stories), Malamas has rendered some of the more inspired work this country has known in quite a while. Despite his total aversion to stage antics, Malamas is a unique performer with an uncanny ability to both entertain and connect with audiences at a deeper level. Every now and then, when he feels that a composition of his leans toward the more tender side, Malamas will opt to put his rugged, almost coarse, vocals aside and offer the singing duties to smoother female vocalists instead – both on stage and in the studio. So it is highly likely that Alexiou will be singing some of Malamas’s songs at these two Melodia anniversary shows. Besides celebrating the radio station’s 15th anniversary along with Alexiou and Malamas, Ioannidis, the occasion’s other highly popular act, will also be celebrating his 37th birthday on the second night. An artist born and raised in Cyprus, Ioannidis eventually relocated to Greece and put out his first release, as a singer and musician, in 1993. He emerged as a songwriter a little later. Usually a gentle balladeer, Ioannidis has also shown interest in work that rocks as well as traditional styles. He recently released an album based on traditional Cretan songs. As for Melodia, the station began broadcasting on September 4, 1991, a period when some of the newer-generation songsmiths, such as Malamas and Thanassis Papaconstantinou – unknowns at the time but widely renowned now – began emerging with interesting, fresh work. Without forsaking the past, Melodia based much of its programming on this newer scene to develop a reputation as the capital’s best station for quality modern Greek music, nowadays generally referred to as «entechno.» Hovering at a 2 percent share of the market during its first months, Melodia’s figure doubled within the first year of operations, and reached an impressive 11 percent share by 1994. Melodia 99.2 FM’s 15th anniversary concert, Monday and Tuesday, Lycabettus Theater, 9.15 p.m. Tickets (20 euros, 15 for students) from Metropolis music stores, the Hellenic Festival box office (39 Panepistimiou) and Melodia 99.2 FM, tel 210.480.0190.