There are plenty of live gigs to get to every week in Sydney, whether you’re looking to get rowdy in underground music dens or sway away to sweet melodies in grand concert halls. You’ll find local producers hitting the decks at Sydney's best clubs, and indie bands from every corner of the city and beyond rocking out at Sydney's best live music venues. So get around it.
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The best live music in Sydney this week
U2 is bringing their Joshua Tree tour to Australia. The Irish stars have built a four-decade career off the back of powerful rock anthems and heartstring-tugging ballads. Bono, his signature tinted sunnies (they’re for his glaucoma) and the rest of the band will be headed to Sydney this November. The upcoming tour is a celebration of the band’s 1987 album The Joshua Tree which features some of U2’s best-known hits and truly raised the group to superstardom (think 'With or Without You', 'Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' and 'Where the Streets Have No Name'). The victory-lap tour was first run in 2017 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the namesake album’s release, however, Australia, New Zealand and Asia missed out. The Joshua Tree tour 2019 will be the first time U2 has played in Australia for almost a decade and they’re bringing some pretty big name friends with them. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds has been announced as the tour’s support acts, which basically makes the gig a double bill. You can see U2 perform at Sydney Cricket Ground on November 22 and 23.
So you reckon you’re pretty tough? Do you think you could stomach an outdoor sleepover at a horrifically haunted harbour Island (read: there is no escape), on the spookiest night of the year? Well, that’s just one terrifying element of the adults-only Overnight Fright Experience happening on Cockatoo Island this Halloween. Before you hunker down for a moonlit slumber on All Hallow’s Eve, you’ll wander through the eerie convict workshops and gaol, dry docks and tunnels on a terrifying two-hour ghost tour. During previous paranormal investigations, hunters have experienced sudden drops in temperature and breath on the back of their necks, so keep an eye out for the ghostly wayward children and convicts who haunt the historic grounds. Next, you’ll get more chills and thrills from the big screen, with an evening of horror movie screenings in the campground cinema. After sufficient spooks, your final task is to attempt to sleep under the stars without nightmares at the deluxe campsite. If this all sounds too heart-attack-inducing, you can just come along for the ghost tour for $45. This wonderfully scary adventure kicks off on October 31, but if you’ve got other Halloween plans, it’ll also run every Friday evening for the rest of the year.
Jump on the ferry to Cockatoo Island for a night of chilled acoustic performances with a banging city backdrop. Sunset Sessions – previously known as Campfire Sessions – will share intimate songs and stories from up-and-coming artists on the island lawn on Saturday evenings from November 23-March 28. The line-up includes bluesy folk artists like Alice Terry and Billie McCarthy at the first sun-soaked dusk performance, then experimental indie-folk from Bonnie Stewart, jazz classics re-worked into retro rock by Mary Heart, Josh Cashman’s floaty pop and more over the course of 12 Sunset Sessions. Each evening will feature two artists, but there will also be a special extended show on November 30 featuring First Nations artists. Hear experiment strings from North American duo Bow and Arrow, and Aboriginal and Ni-Vanuatu acoustic roots and reggae sounds from singer-songwriter Evie J Willie. Dance collective Indigenous Enterprise will also be performing traditional cultural practices from North America. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic, but if you forget your basket there are cheese and charcuterie packs plus drinks by the island’s resident eatery, Marina Café & Bar.
Update: KISS have had to cancel their Australian tour due to Paul Stanley's recent bout of influenza. There aren't many bands that are known by their makeup alone, but KISS are among the most recognisable performers on Earth. They are also among the most successful, having sold more than 100 records worldwide and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. They wanna rock and roll all night and party every day – but only for a little while longer. They have announced that this tour, called End of the Road, will be the band's last. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley formed KISS way back in 1973, and the band have been touring in one guise or another for the better part of 50 years. They first came to Sydney in 1980, and they're looking to say goodbye to their army of fans in style.
What's that sound? It's thousands of Carly Rae Jepsen fans letting out a collective squeal that their queen is finally coming to Sydney, after more than a decade of unparalleled pop. The show is part of Jepsen's Dedicated Tour, named after her most recent album, packed with hits like 'Party for One', 'Now That I Found You', and the heart-stopping 'Too Much'. But you can also expect her to pull out the biggest hits from her earlier albums Kiss and Emotion. We'd be pretty surprised if we didn't get to hear the global hit 'Call Me Maybe' and fan favourte 'Cut to the Feeling'. Jepsen is here for the SandTunes Music Festival on the Gold Coast, but will be doing one sideshow in Sydney and one in Melbourne. Tickets to the Melbourne and Sydney sideshows are on sale Thursday September 26 at 2pm.
Mojo Ruiz de Luzuriaga – better known as Mojo Juju – made waves in 2018 with her brutally honest album Native Tongue and the tour that supported it. The singer-songwriter, guitarist and storyteller known for albums like Seeing Red/Feeling Blue shared her life during the intimate, stripped back performance Native Tongue, an evening of emotionally raw songs and storytelling. The performance garnered rave reviews from audiences and critics, and she is now bringing the show back to City Recital Hall. Over the course of an hour, guests will discover how Mojo Juju’s Indigenous Australian and Filipino ancestry, as well as her other personal experiences, have shaped the artist she is today. Through her particular stylistic combination of RnB, soul and indie music Mojo Juju has come along way since she first started with the band Mojo Juju and the Snake Oil Merchants back in 2006. Described as honest, emotional and straight from the heart, the Native Tongue album gives deeper meaning to the music and stories of Mojo Juju. The Australian newspaper gave the album four and a half stars, calling it "one of the most thematically vital Australian albums of the year".
The Museum of Contemporary Art stays open until 9pm each Wednesday night with a program of live music on the terrace, discussions, performances, talks and workshops, to complement the exhibitions. The indoor-outdoor MCA Cafe, on the Sculpture Terrace, also stays open until 9pm. It's got some of the best views of the harbour at night – assuming there aren't any cruise ships. See our hitlist of art exhibitions this month and check out where else you can enjoy art at night.