Last night was our last Sydney Festival 2010 event. It was Rogue’s Gallery, a live performance of many of the songs recorded for a 2006 album of the same name. We heard sea shanties and pirate ballads, sweet and bawdy. It was an unusual event, that’s for sure.
It was held outside, in front of the Opera House. This would normally be a good location, as the performers and audience could all see the harbour and the boats to-ing and fro-ing. Last night, however, it pissed down rain for about an hour just before and during the performance. Despite some flimsy rain gear we got fairly wet. We spun that as optimistically as we could, saying that it promoted the idea of a life at sea.
The performers were a motley crew: Marianne Faithful, Todd Rundgren, Peter Garrett, Tim Robbins (huh?), Sarah Blasko, Baby Gramps, Peaches, Liam Finn and others. Few sang sweetly; there was much more rough-and-ready growling. Some of the songs worked brilliantly, some were fun, some were downright weird. A couple were so raunchy – to be expected from sailors’ working songs, I guess – that the performers asked for forgiveness beforehand.
It was two and a half hours of reworked maritime singalong history, and an obvious labour of love for those involved. It wasn’t smooth. Much of it was cheesy. Some was too bizarre to enjoy. But it was fun and varied and completely unique. Those last two things are key to the Sydney Festival being a showcase for all sorts of interesting art, and so bravo.