For the first time in her career, Eleni Foureira — otherwise known as the Greatest Eurovision Queen of All Time — performed in London. The epic performance unfolded on Friday evening in the historic KOKO club in Camden town, a lavish old theatre filled with gold and crimson décor. A fittingly elegant venue for Eurovision royalty such as Eleni.
After an hour of queuing in the summer heat, the darkness of the concert was a welcome relief. Greek music played, giving us a taste of what was to come. The rest of the audience tirelessly belted out song after song, and we swiftly realised we were some of the few non-Greeks in the room. But surprisingly, the audience was a bit sparse, perhaps owing to the £40 ticket price.
On came the first support act — a well dressed young man, Zack, who sang three melancholy songs before giving the stage up to a much livelier act. The second support was much more appropriate for the crowd — as well as a mix of Arabic-inspired original tunes, she played a blend of classic 90s and noughties tunes, including Destiny’s Child. Her bellydance skills were out of this world, too.
We thought Eleni was surely about to arrive, but she likes to make us wait, so there was one more support before the main event. Mixalis Theodosiou, another dapper young man, came on stage to warm us all up. The Greeks in the audience seemed to know a few of his songs, but by this point the rest of us were scratching our heads, so we went to the bar.
Finally, at 8:30, the lights dimmed. The violins started playing. It was time. Eleni’s always been one to make an entrance, and this was no different. The dancers came on first, dressed in spangly gold half-on-half-off costumes. The audience cheered as loudly as they could, before breaking out into a massive chorus of “Fuego”. While there wasn’t a lot of room for Eleni to dance, she certainly made the most of it, giving us the routine we had all been waiting for.
Eleni is a charismatic woman, and she enchanted the room with her stage presence. What stood out particularly was that she recognised one of her superfans, who was at the front dressed as a pineapple — an homage to her sponsors. Eleni graciously thanked him for his “support from day one”, and even met up with him after the show. If that’s how she treats her fans, I totally want to be president of the fan club.
If you only knew her song ‘Fuego’, the show was pretty much over after song one. But for the Greeks and keen British fans, she ran through her repertoire, starting with “Vasilissa” and moving on through “Ti Koitas”, “Tranquila” and – at last – “Sto Theo Me Paei”. Each track had intricately crafted choreography to go with it, and while we tried to keep up with her, Eleni and her hair were miles ahead.
But Eleni is, in her own words, “non-stop”. When she needed a rest, it was her voice that took a break, not her high-heeled feet. At one point near the end of the show, they dropped the bass and played a selection of Latin dance songs, which Eleni whipped her hair back and forth to as the crowd took over the vocals.
Before leaving, she gave the audience a little taste of a night in a Greek Bouzoukia, singing cover versions of famous Greek songs — including one by Pantelis Pantelidis, a Greek superstar who was killed in a car accident a couple of years ago. She welled up a little as she described him as one of her best friends, playing a moving tribute to him as she performed one of his ballads.
If we’d gone in feeling hot, we came out literally on fire. For the last time, half of “Fuego” was blasted out of the speakers, as we watched our queen disappear into the wings. We cried for an encore, but none was forthcoming. Eleni Foureira had officially left the building, just as she had entered it — to the rallying call of “FUE-GOOOO!”