My tiny following on this site who remember me from days at the National Times (1780s) and the Sydney Morning Herald (1890s), must be wondering when is James going to bust – and put the boot in. Relax back in your rockers and wheelchairs, make sure you’ve taken your heart tablets etc. Just kidding…
If this year’s festival were a race war, right now the dark-skinned brothers and sisters would be winning! I write the morning after attending the all-Aboriginal concert Murundak (Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House). Without being so named, curatorially, this massive, inspiring joyful celebration of survival against odds, with a suitably sharp sting in its tail, serves as the third segment of a fabulous trilogy that has also included Cannot Buy My Soul (Kev Carmody tribute concert) and Ngapartji Ngapartji (Big hArt’s theatre piece still running at Belvoir Street Theatre).
Like a dazed and long-eyelashed five-hour-old foal, five days in, the 2008 Sydney Festival has got up on its feet. The brumbie mare has thrown back to exquisite palomino origins and she nuzzles with pride. And the smart little colt was named last night: ‘You Cannot Buy My Soul’.
I’m trying to capture the feeling as the curtain came down last night on a stunning concert at the State Theatre celebrating the song writing of Kev Carmody featuring Paul Kelly, Missy Higgins, Tex Perkins, Dan Kelly, Clare Bowditch, The Herd, Sara Storer, Steve Kilby, The Drones, The Last Kinection, the Pigram Bothers and a great support band. Not to mention Carmody himself and kin, including several grandchildren.
My favourite thought during the opening night of this year’s Sydney Festival was a flash back to the APEC meeting of ‘world leaders’ (in what?) just a few months ago when the very same city streets were blocked with barricades, helicopters intimidated the skies day and night, snipers lay on rooftops, and basically Sydney was bunkered down so a bunch of creepy people could get down and suck each other’s conga-lines.