Review: Blonde Redhead
February 9th 2011
Sydney Opera House
Saturday 29 December
The Opera House. A warm summer evening.
With the lights glistening on the water and a mellow breeze creeping subtly through the air, I thought I would perhaps fall into a magnificent, rainbow-like dream, lose all weight and bearing, and drift slowly away into the night – and this was before I saw Blonde Redhead.
The night first kicked off with New Zealand band The Verlaines and their brand of non-offensive rock they’ve been dishing out since the 1980s. They played a decent, comfortable set to an apathetic audience, but their music and minimalistic performance style seemed to get swallowed in the expansive, acoustic jaws of the Opera House Concert Hall.
It was close to a full house when headliners Blonde Redhead took to the stage. Unlike the support act, the dreamy, ethereal pop styling’s of this New York three-piece sat perfectly within the prestigious venue. The calm and angelic melodies engulfed the crowd, with the vibrations of the heavy synth and ring of the bass drum making the seats gently pulsate. The accompanying light show was spectacular, with mini-torch lights glittering around the stage, and photography umbrellas propped up on the back drop erupting into stunning, bright dashes of light that shot out through the crowd.
Lead singer Kazu Makino appeared frightfully shy; she was rarely illuminated in stage lights and preferred to shuffle in and out of shadow with her head hung low and her face covered by a shaggy fringe. On one of the few occasions Makino addressed the audience, she spoke with a diminutive voice and a thick, Japanese accent, muttering about the band playing soon at the ‘something-lane’ festival.
Despite this, Makino, along with the rest of the band, gave a rich performance suitable to the music style and venue. The crowd was respectful and appreciative, some members so swept up in the dreamy, psychedelic atmosphere that they stood before their seats and waved their arms and bodies in blissful abandon.
Blonde Redhead’s gig at the Sydney Opera House provided not merely a live set but a full multi-sensory spectacle that swept one up in the magnificence and grandeur of the sound and space. With my grip already tenuous on reality that Saturday evening, perhaps Blonde Redhead were not the perfect remedy to drag me back to Earth. But for a trip like that without the aid of expensive narcotics, I’d say the brief sacrifice of one’s faculties was a small price to pay for a mesmerising experience.