Some members of the audience knew something special was unfolding on the first night of the Sydney Festival as Amanda seductively strode into the Spiegeltent, strumming her ukulele and singing In My Mind as she wandered throughout the audience.
Others were a little more reserved – perhaps not fully appreciative of what was going down or simply unsure of what to expect. A reunion for some, an introduction for others – a difficult tightrope for a live performer to balance, but one Amanda did brilliantly.
From the upbeat Map of Tasmania (“Are there any children in the audience? There are? Is it OK if we say fuck it? OK good…”) to meandering through exploration of deeper and darker emotions. The cover of Ted Egan’s The Drover’s Boy would have been haunting with Amanda’s performance alone but the evocative and otherworldly appearance by body poet Sabrina D’Angelo pushed it into an ethereal new territory.
I was delighted to finally hear Coin-Operated Boy performed live – a highlight of the show for my gig buddy Alex and myself – I’m still fervently hoping “Sing” makes an appearance at a gig I’m present at soon!
Vegemite as a love song was wonderful – particularly given the snippets of back story provided here and there, and I felt privileged to witness a repeat cover performance of Bat for Lashes’ “Laura” with special guest Brendan Maclean.
The journey Amanda was patiently leading the reserved audience through took an emotional turn into “Bigger on the Inside” – simply mesmerising – and finished with the uplifting Ukulele Anthem which Eddie Vedder has apparently covered recently. Fingers crossed he covers it again in Melbourne where I have tickets!
And maybe, just maybe, it’s time for everyone to learn to play the ukulele.