It wasn’t a comfortable start to Julia Holter’s Sunday evening performance at the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent: we felt like sardines, seated shoulder to shoulder, unable to wrestle free for relief from the clammy enclosure. But the impressive turnout for the Los Angeles-based musician, who is known for her avant-garde musical compositions with influences spanning pop and folk to classical music, was promising – perhaps Sydney’s live music fans are more dedicated than some give them credit?
You know that warm feeling you got when you watched a bunch of high school kids take more affirmative action on climate change in a national protest than the sitting cabinet? You get the same feeling when you watch the Marliya choral group of young Indigenous women singing protest songs in pitch perfect unison and tight harmonies about mining practices, incarceration, and community closures in the Concert Hall at Sydney Opera House.
Staring into the eyes of a singer whose entire face is covered by a white mask is a disturbing experience. New Zealand singer-songwriter Jonathan Bree is standing centre stage at the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent in Hyde Park – he’s flanked by two dancers dressed head to toe in white, plus a drummer and a bassist, all wearing white masks and gloves. No inch of skin on show.
It’s an eerie experience to enter a cold, dark swimming pool late at night. It’s stranger still to do it to the gentle lullaby of plucked strings on a giant harp that you’ll continue to hear reverberating underwater as you swim.
Say the name Neneh Cherry to most people and they’ll recall her explosively thrilling debut single, ‘Buffalo Stance,’ or perhaps her collaboration with Senegalese vocalist Youssou N’Dour, the plaintively haunting ‘Seven Seconds.’ These previously ubiquitous hits were released in 1988 and 1994 respectively but, given she’s comfortably sold out two consecutive nights at Carriageworks as part of Sydney Festival, it’s fair to say Cherry still has a loyal following.