Reviewed on Sunday October 6.

In what was set to be one of the concerts of the year, The Cinematic Orchestra played a career retrospective at the Sydney Opera House as part of GRAPHIC Festival. Much was made about how they were to play alongside the 40-piece Sydney International Orchestra, with specially commissioned live visuals by The Light Surgeons.

As it turned out, however, a lot of that billing was superfluous; the orchestra remained onstage the entire time, but the amount of playing they actually did was outnumbered three to one by the amount of time they just sat there, silent. And for a group dubbed as “boundary-pushing multi-media artists”, The Light Surgeons’ contributions were nothing more than a collection of ambient images – moonlight on water, sunlight through leaves – that have been available as computer screensavers for years.

So for all the extraneous material used to sell the show as a one-of-a-kind, it actually was just a concert by The Cinematic Orchestra. Luckily for the audience, they remain one of the most thrilling acts around.

It’s always a joy to see a professional unit actually having a good time onstage. In particular, drummer Luke Flowers’ exuberant expression never shifted for the duration of the two hours. He was on a mission for the entire concert to find the perfect drum pattern or fill, and if you locked in with him, it was entrancing.

That’s not to say the rest of the band could be ignored. LD Brown, AKA Grey Reverend, who played guitar all night, got two solo acoustic showcases including a beautiful reworking of the hit ‘To Build A Home’. But if there is one reason to see The Cinematic Orchestra, it’s Flowers.

Now, there’s a big chance half the audience who were there to see ‘the song off the Schweppes ad’ had unknowingly purchased tickets to a jazz show. As an attempt to appease this crowd, the show became wildly diverse, alternating between long, thrilling jazz explorations and the more stand-alone pop material. Unfortunately, this meant momentum was hard to generate, but it was probably the only way to please both sections of the band’s audience.

So after all the hoopla, the night was just an everyday brilliant concert by The Cinematic Orchestra. Let’s hope that next time they tour, there are none of those extra distractions. The band alone is reason enough.

BY LEONARDO SILVESTRINI

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