Vivid Sydney: Janelle Monae at the Sydney Opera House28 May 2012
I enjoy Sydney’s Vivid Festival every year. There’s something a bit wacky and open-ended about a festival of “light, music & ideas”. It really could be anything, couldn’t it?
Last night waas my first Vivid event, and it lived up to the could-be-anything promise: it was Janelle Monae and the Archandroid Orchestra at the Opera House.
It was, honestly, fantastic.
Ms. Monae has completely absorbed her key musical idols: Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and James Brown. She sings funk, ballads, R&B, rap, soul, and rock. She screams and laughs and shouts. She and her crazy-ass band dress up to the nines. She shuffles and moonwalks. Her MC instructed the sometimes staid opera hall to stand up before she even came out, and we all spent most of the time on our feet, dancing.
Janelle’s music covers a good range, and all her songs were delivered in amazing voice. Every song sounded great, and the band kept the sequence dynamic-feeling. It’s hard to beat a main set double-hit ending of “Cold War” and “Tightrope“, though.
The band kept the groove going in style throughout; even the strings danced and grooved for most of it. Every member was part of an ongoing choreography that made it feel like old-time entertainment.
She even painted a picture during one song, and gave it away to the first crowd member who was able to prove it was his birthday.
She threw us some covers, some nods to her style, in the form of The Jackson 5′s “I Want You Back”, and a medley of a couple of James Bond tunes: “You Only Live Twice” and “Goldfinger”. The final song of the night was a version of the hit song by Fun she sang on, “We Are Young“.
This show made me very happy. Monae has such boundless talent, vision, energy, and enthusiasm that it makes me weak in the knees.