Jan 19, 2010

Joanna Newsom @ Sydney Opera House

A Joanna Newsom show is always a unique experience. I mean, I can count on one finger the number of Californian harp players that I know. But more than that, much more, she is supremely good at what she does. Add to that the iconic surrounds of the Sydney Opera House then Monday night was hugely enjoyable and rewarding.

A regular to our shores these days, Joanna was to bring us a batch of new tunes on the night. Her new album, "Have One On Me" is to released next month and it was quite exciting to hear these new songs live for the first time. A new one started the night in "Jack Rabbits", which was just Joanna on harp. Soft and lovely, a gentle way to start things off. Then her band members joined her for "Bridges and Balloons". Neal Morgan was instinctive and subtle on drums, whilst Ryan Francesconi was multi tasking on guitar, mandolin and banjo. Then as an added surprise for the third song Joanna was joined by a mini orchestra. Two players on violins and two with horns. They added an extra dimension to the night, especially on the mini epic "Have One On Me", which was stormy and exciting, a song with 48 different directions. Also, it was a good indication that the new album will incorporate new sounds. There was a dynamic thrust to many of the new songs, dipping into different genres and styles. All the while still retaining that unique Newsom style. Of the new tunes I really loved the melodic "In California" and "Soft As Chalk", which was one of three songs Joanna performed on piano. It actually had a ragtime feel to it, perfect for dancing if I wasn't enjoying my seat so much. She returned to the harp for the softly spoken "Autumn" which was a great delight. Then came "Emily", which was pure perfection and easily received the biggest ovation of the night. It was thrilling and astoundingly beautiful. After "Emily" Ryan led the band in an surprise rendition of happy birthday to Joanna. Which I think totally caught her by surprise. Some older tunes followed, ending with "The Book Of Right-On", putting the seal on a great night. She had played for over an hour and a half, but managed to return for an encore of "Colleen". Which was great fun and definitely left all of us with huge smiles on our faces. Huge.

Set List
Jack Rabbits
Bridges And Balloons
Have One On Me
Ribbon Bows
In California
Inflammatory Writ
Soft As Chalk
Peach, Plum, Pear
The Book Of Right-On



  • At January 19, 2010 , Anonymous Karen said...

    That version of Emily was as perfect a thing as I've ever seen.

  • At January 20, 2010 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Can anyone remember who the support artist was? He was quite delightful too.

  • At January 21, 2010 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Jens Lekman (and maybe robert forster from go betweens)

  • At January 29, 2010 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    the support artist was Brian Campeau from Sydney


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