Sydney Festival 2010

It’s very late in the year to be reviewing the Sydney Festival, especially considering that the music appeared to have been selected by someone very much like me only with somewhat better taste. I think I didn’t get around to it because I was trying to finish the Shakespeare stuff, and also because I saw so many shows that I got a bit exhausted.

The Manganiyar Seduction

The Manganiyar Seduction at First Night. This was like Celebrity Squares with hair-raisingly accomplished musicians instead of Lucky Grills. There was a fellow who played a jaw harp like he could knock you down at fifty paces with a single twang if he wasn’t a nice person, which he seemed to be.

The Reels

I own a lot of Severed Heads recordings but nothing by the Reels, so I’m not sure why I was surprised that the Reels were the support act. With the benefit of hindsight, I think I should have bought a few less different remixes of “Greater Reward” and more Reels albums.


Especially since Tom Ellard still hates us. But we’re used to that, and a lot of us danced anyway, and the new version of “Mambo Fist Miasma” was great. The show closed with a big steampunk rocket giving us the finger, followed by an encore of “We Have Come To Bless The House” with the lovely original video.

I'm gonna rip your hair off

I’m looking forward to the new album by the Books, especially if it has the piece shown here, compiled from found recordings in kids’ tape recorders picked up in secondhand shops.

I didn’t take any photos at the Laughing Clowns show, but here are some very good ones of them playing in Brisbane. This was the only Clowns show I’ve seen: it was really good. The Dirty Three played next, and many people also present in the Enmore Theatre seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. I gathered from his banter that Mr Warren Ellis is not unacquainted with recreational chemicals, and he can play violin while standing on one foot, a rare accomplishment which may explain the crowd’s enthusiasm.

We also saw Smoke and Mirrors, which was a burlesque-circus type affair with acrobats and a lot of good songs written by iOTA and a show-stopping moment by Queenie van de Zandt as the Bearded Lady.

Optimism – an adaptation of Candide – had a lot of good moments but also a lot of “oh another contemporary pop song stuck into a play” moments.


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