As part of Melbourne Fringe and set within the Lithuanian Club in the heart of North Melbourne, you'll love this innovative performance celebrating the works of the unique and mysterious artist, Nico, also known for her work with The Velvet Underground.
This is a tale of Nico (born Christa Paffgen), the enigmatic muse of Andy Warhol and musician in her own right, brought to the stage by classical-contemporary music outfit, Forest Collective, cabaret singer, Danielle Asciak, and led with passionate direction by composer and conductor, Evan Lawson.
Forest Collective performing Nico for Melbourne Fringe
The show's opening could have benefited from a more distinctive entrance to set the scene for intrigue, yet once started, the presence of the performers on stage with their array of classical instruments, Lawson as conductor in the driver's seat, and Asciak's suitably contemplative and brooding demeanour, soon inspired the curiosity to engage in the journey of the singer's life.
Some of Nico's best—and oft-forgotten—songs were cleverly interspersed with storytelling and observations by Asciak, as the ensemble embarked on a musical journey into the world of Nico. Nerves were evident from the performers at first, but they soon settled into their roles as they embodied the haunting sentiment of Nico's pleasure and pain.
Asciak delivered beautifully, with a voice that captured and even extended Nico's vocal range, rendered with emotional tenderness by Forest Collective's array of keys, strings and brass.
Danielle Asciak performing Nico
My Funny Valentine' and 'All Tomorrow's Parties' in this context was moving, embracing the brooding depth and sadness immortalised in the originals. 'No One Is There' was performed to perfection, with Lawson at the helm an absolute joy to watch. 'The Falconer' conjured up folk-infused tales and voyages of long ago, with William Elm replacing piano with an accordion to make this one a lasting impression.
By the end of the show, Asciak had almost morphed into Nico, and finishing up with 'These Days' punctuated the performance with its bittersweet reflections, epitomising Nico's pain, which she had become so accustomed to.