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Five Highlights Of Sydney’s Vivid LIVE 2022 Program

Vivid LIVE was one of the many casualties of Sydney’s 2021 winter lockdown, but the annual festival returns to the Sydney Opera House from Friday, 27th May – Saturday, 18th June, 2022.

For three weeks, the Opera House sails will display Yarrkalpa: Hunting Ground, 2021, a digital artwork conceived by Sydney-based creative technologists, Curiious, and the Pilbara’s Martu Artists. 

Yarrkalpa features paintings from the Parnngurr community in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The digital artwork comes with an original soundtrack composed by electronic-pop duo Electric Fields and featuring vocals from the Martu Artists.

Vivid LIVE is part of the broader event, Vivid Sydney, a festival of light, music and ideas that plays out across a number of inner city venues. The Vivid LIVE action all takes place at the Sydney Opera House, with live performances on the Forecourt, Northern Boardwalk and in the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Drama Theatre, Studio and Utzon Room.

The program includes exclusive concert performances from Paul Kelly, Nils Frahm, parties from Astral People, Future Classic, and a broad showcase of contemporary pop, hip hop, dance music, indie rock and experimental sounds. Here are five must-see events at Vivid LIVE 2022.

Paul Kelly: Time and Tide

Paul Kelly has written a heckload of songs since launching his career in the early 1980s, including the resonant classics ‘Before Too Long’, ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ and ‘How to Make Gravy’. All three songs appear on Kelly’s new 30-track compilation album, Time, which highlights time’s conceptual and thematic influence over Kelly’s songwriting.

Over four nights on the Northern Boardwalk, Kelly and his band – featuring bass player Bill McDonald, drummer Peter Luscombe, guitarists Ash Naylor and Dan Kelly, keyboard player Cameron Bruce, and backing vocalists Vika and Linda Bull – will delve deep into Kelly’s time catalogue, evoking our essential powerlessness in the face of time’s relentless motion, but also how time helps us identify meaning in our lives.

Paul Kelly (w/Thelma Plum): Friday, 27th, Saturday, 28th, Sunday, 29th & Tuesday, 31 May, Northern Boardwalk

RVG

In a non-Covid reality, it’s easy to imagine how RVG would’ve become one of the biggest indie rock acts in the world. The Melbourne/Naarm band, led by the inimitable Romy Vager, released their second album, Feral, right as we were all being told to lock our doors for the foreseeable. Feral builds on the elastic, irony-laden indie pop and new wave rock of the band’s debut, A Quality of Mercy (2017), and proves that Vager is a songwriter with a uniquely moving point of view. 

Album highlights include ‘Alexandra’, which begins with a couplet so macabre it’ll make you laugh out loud: “Come Monday morning, you may find me dead / You may not find my body, but you may find my head.” Another favourite is ‘Little Sharkie & the White Pointer Sisters’, in which Vager grapples with psychic unrest. “I can’t concentrate, and I can’t get to sleep,” she sings. “It could be the coffee, but it’s probably the speed.” 

RVG: Monday, 30th May, Studio

Hermitude

Hermitude’s Luke Dubber and Angus Stuart have been making music together since Dubber was 15 and Stuart 11. Their origins are in the Katoomba High School jazz band, but everything changed when Stuart bought a set of turntables on a trip to Hawaii when he was 15. He and Dubber were already massive hip hop heads and soon latched onto artists like Aphex Twin, The Prodigy and the Ninja Tune roster.

Flash forward to 2022 and Hermitude have now released seven albums, spanning beat tapes, wonky instrumental hip hop productions and big room dance and pop music. 2022 is the duo’s unofficial 20th anniversary and the 10th anniversary of their breakout LP, HyperParadise. Hermitude are officially launching their seventh LP, Mirror Mountain, on the Northern Boardwalk on Thursday, 2nd June.

Hermitude: Thursday, 2nd June, Northern Boardwalk

BLESSED presents AUSSIE BLACKSTAR

BLESSED will release his debut studio album, Aussie Blackstar, on Friday, 3rd June via Matt Corby’s Rainbow Valley Records. BLESSED is the primary creative vessel of Ghanaian-born, Sydney-based genre-defying artist and producer, Blessed Samuel Joe-Andah. Under the now-defunct moniker, Miracle, Joe-Andah released the album Mainland in 2014, when he was just 18 years old.

With Aussie Blackstar, BLESSED wants to ignite an “awakening to a mass consciousness”. The album was fuelled by the hip hop artist’s frustration that Australia’s vast multiculturalism is not reflected in our mainstream media. 

“We have a deeper history of deeper culture,” said BLESSED. “The people are changing, the people’s voices are getting louder, but the system isn’t changing.” BLESSED has invited a slew of friends and collaborators along to help drive the point home, including Baby Prince, Chirine, Maina Doe, Manu Crooks, and Matt Black.

BLESSED presents AUSSIE BLACKSTAR: Thursday, 2nd June, Studio

Astral People 10 + 1 Birthday

Sydney label and events company Astral People has been overseeing ecstatic Vivid LIVE parties going back several years. To celebrate a decade (+1) since the company’s inception, founders Tom Huggett and Vichara Edirisinghe have curated two nights of live performances on the House’s Northern Broadwalk.

Night one, on Friday, 3rd June, features South London jazz drummer, Yussef Davies, a member of Afrobeat outfit United Vibrations and funk/jazz duo Yussef Kamaal. Australian neo-soul collective Hiatus Kaiyote are also on board, celebrating the one year anniversary of their third album, Mood Valiant, released via Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label.

Night two, on Saturday, 4th June, features two of the biggest names at the vanguard of UK hip hop’s next wave: the versatile Coventry rapper Jay1 and the Zimbabwean-born Afroswing acolyte, S1mba. They’re supported by a who’s who of local hip hop acts, including Barkaa, Briggs, Arno Faraji and Hoodzy.

Astral People 10 + 1: Friday, 3rd and Saturday 4th June, Northern Boardwalk

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