Friday, May 25, 2012

The Voice of the Auslaender

N ikko Moss strikes a more than just a guitar chord
by Kenton Turk
If considered a concert, it would beat the legendary three-song gigs of The Jesus and Mary Chain for cutting it short by a third, but Nikko Moss's two back-to-back numbers were a long entry among the single-jab acts at the Trash Deluxe Variety Show (at AHA, Berlin, 19/05/12), a bi-monthly jumble of any and everything schräg. While the evening's show ended with two Rubinesque drag queens and a dressed-for-sex female counterpiece smearing cake all over each other's bodies (on the two-year anniversary of the first of these outings), it was something as plain as a clear voice and an acoustic guitar that stole the evening and brought out the greatest applause.
Nikko Moss comes from California, and her first number was entitled, quite without adornment, just that. “California” is an ode to leaving... a land, friends and family, a piece of yourself behind. The first line, “California, I'm not coming back to you,” brought out snickers and grunts of anticipation: it was going to be fun to hear the Golden State, the Cartoon On The Pacific, get taken apart. Yes, she misses it. No, not enough to go back. Not when she's happily partnered here. But by the time she had woven her way through the joys and doubts of the resolute expat, you had to swallow hard, if you know the situation from up close. Her voice, a classically-trained operatic instrument, effortlessly carried the words along their way through wide-eyed observation and a plea to the homeland to take care of her family. The song ended with a vow to return someday and lie enveloped in her, in California, to enrich the soil, end where she began. How many more of the transplanted have had these thoughts. Brief silence, then thunderous ovation and cries for more, and Moss smiled the smile of the surprised.
The outburst brought on a second self-penned offering, “Let's Run Away,” which told of an anticipated moment of rejection that doesn't transpire. This one showcased her abilities well too, her voice a finger tracing a silhouette line from the peaks of mountains down into the valleys, only to wander there and again ascend to the heights in single leap, but the first was her real moment. After the show, while globs of one cake were being scraped off the stage and another one was making the rounds, Moss was approached by well-wishers and back-slappers and finally by an enthusiastic stranger who shared his rapture and asked to buy a CD (there weren't any), then requested an autograph instead. From Brazil, he found Moss's melodic paean had sung his thoughts to a tee, despite differing language and location.
With the current headlong rush to Berlin from all the globe's corners, it seems clear die Zugezogenen, the newcomers, between homes found and abandoned, will need a voice as their own new flag. They may already have found theirs in an unassuming barefoot singer who beams from ear to ear and apologizes for occasionally lapsing into English. Brazil is not California, but tonight it felt that way to at least one; as such, there may be many Californias tending to the loved ones of New Berliners and waiting for the ultimate return of the native.

photo: A.B.

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