With Ben Marshall, Head of Contemporary Music, Sydney Opera House.
We’re very proud of this year’s Vivid LIVE lineup, and while choosing five shows to recommend isn’t hard, calling out my top five is slightly agonising. Vivid LIVE is different to other music festivals – it’s a specific chance to get close to those significant artists who’ve helped shape the musical landscape we’re now in; and it’s a moment to get a glimpse of what lies ahead while also experiencing the kinds of special projects that need the setting of the Opera House and the context of Vivid LIVE to work. So rather than a traditional top five, I’ll choose: an of-the-moment figure; a seminal artist; a glimpse of the future; a special project; and something for the hell of it.
Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sunday May 25
Annie Clark is an artist absolutely of this moment and you will want to say you were there for this performance. Remove her from any indie singer-songwriter pigeonholes you may have – she’s completely found her own voice and she’s coming to take no prisoners with an incredibly sharp, dark, harmonic show filled with serious playfulness. Over four records she’s been developing her sound and now on St. Vincent it feels like she’s found her metier, confidently out there exploring the edges of rock’n’roll.
Tickets available here.
Concert Hall, Friday May 23 – Monday May 26
The Pixies are one of the seminal modern bands. A cult act at the time, like The Velvet Underground they became a massive inspiration for acts like Nirvana, Radiohead and PJ Harvey. For a generation raised on a diet of music refracting The Beatles/Stones/Dylan/Elvis, hearing the screeching biblical howl of Frank Black and their jagged loud/quiet surf-guitar-gone-horror-movie onslaught was a direct infusion of amplified guitar music’s primal source. Possibly at the peak of their live powers, the Pixies in the Concert Hall is a bit of a teenage dream come true for me.
Joan Sutherland Theatre, Tuesday May 27
I think this Berlin composer is a glimpse of the future. There’s something fresh and fascinating happening now where rigorous contemporary classical composers are freeing themselves up to explore electronics in their work. Nils’ meticulous piano-based work is mesmerising, melodic, beautiful and pensive. We’ll be hearing his influence for a while to come and he will sound unbelievable in here.
4.THE MUSIC OF MORODER – THE HERITAGE ORCHESTRA
Concert Hall, Sunday June 1
Created especially for Vivid LIVE, this world premiere is also a wonderful way for us to finally work with the Red Bull Music Academy. Moroder’s output is now part of modern music’s DNA – from his disco domination through to his incredible Academy Award-winning soundtracks. Having the renegade Heritage Orchestra – responsible for last year’s searing Joy Division rework – get right inside Moroder’s incredible ouvre will be magic.
5.GOODGOD TIN PAN ALLEY
Joan Sutherland Theatre, Friday May 30
Sydney’s incredibly lucky to have Goodgod Small Club’s Jimmy Sing and Hana Shimada feverishly cultivating a fertile, creative and fun corner of our nightlife ecosystem. Their club nights for the last two Vivid LIVEs have been mind-meltingly great and this year they take over our second-largest venue for ‘a palladium of operatic dreams’. Rolling Stone is already asking if Penny Penny is the next Rodriguez and the rest of the lineup including Shogun, Donny Benet, Bart Willoughby and Montero will result in another Goodgod at the Opera House high watermark for fun.