Vivid LIVE

A history in 10 parts

Lighting of the Sails

“It was part of Brian Eno’s original vision to project art onto the Sails of the Sydney Opera House, and each year we are delighted to commission an artist to transfigure Jørn Utzon’s architectural masterpiece into a dazzling kinetic sculpture.

“Unrivalled creative minds have directed the Lighting of the Sails for the past 10 years from Songlines to Audio Creatures. In 2018 award-winning Australian artist Jonathan Zawada is transforming the Sydney Opera House Sails with Metamathemagical, a vibrant digital sculpture inspired by Australian motifs across science, nature and culture.”

Ben Marshall

Brian Eno · Ladytron · Reggie Watts · Battles · Jon Hopkins · Lee 'Scratch' Perry · Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 · and more

Paste Magazine on Ladytron: 
“Never before has Ladytron sounded so sinister, been so danceable and connected so well with its audience.”

The Brag on Reggie Watts: 
“He is an improviser and a madman, and no attempt to recreate what he does on any given night would be at all possible.”

Brian Eno on Seun Kuti & Egypt 80: 
“This will be an amazing concert for anyone who is interested in music or life or rhythm or sex or power or other countries.”

Lou Reed's Metal Machine Trio · Laurie Anderson's Transitory Life · My Brightest Diamond · Blind Boys Of Alabama · Boris · Music for Dogs · and more

Lou Reed, Co-Curator of Vivid LIVE 2010:
We are so pleased to have the chance to create and perform in a festival like this at the Sydney Opera House. Here's a wonderful opportunity to show some stuff you might not know about and that might be really great fun for you.”

Laurie Anderson, 2010 Co-curator: 
It will be kind of like a big crazy menu, it will have the things we like in it but it will definitely be really eclectic ... I love the excitement of a port city. There’s something about a lot of people down by the water and doing stuff that’s so exciting.”

Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond): 
It feels great to be chosen to play Vivid LIVE. Like winning a big prize! Like baking a pumpkin pie and your pie being given a ribbon at the State Fair! Like winning the lottery! Like getting to go to the Big Top and meeting the top elephant and ringmaster!”

The Cure Reflections · Bat for Lashes · Tame Impala · Cut Copy · OFWGKTA · Mad Racket · and more

Stephen Pavlovic, ex Modular Records & Curator of Vivid LIVE 2011:
“Something resonates with me and then I have a desire to share it with other people. And that’s kind of the litmus test for everything we do. If I can’t stop playing it and want to share it, then it must be good.”

Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes: 
My imagination has within that the landscapes and the character sand the colours and the stories and the sounds of those things. It will be pretty one-off but don't worry, it will be very visual.”

Dom Simper, guitarist, Tame Impala:
“I remember coming to Sydney when I was probably 10 years old with my dad just for a little holiday, and [the Sydney Opera House] was pretty much the first place we came … I was blown away by it then. So it's kind of bringing me back to when I came here as a kid and I was completely overwhelmed by it the first time I saw it.”

NME on The Cure: 
Within the hallowed hall of the legendary Sydney Opera House this week, [fans] took shelter from Sydney’s rain and cold as they watched Robert and his band of not-so-merry men recreate three of the Cure’s most iconic and important albums.”


Karen O in Stop the Virgens

Karen O in Stop the Virgens

Karen O Stop the Virgens · Amon Tobin Live: Beyond 3D ISAM · Janelle Monáe · Florence + the Machine w/ the Ceremonial Orchestra · Sufjan Stevens Planetarium · and more

Fergus Linehan, Curator of Vivid LIVE 2012:
Vivid LIVE is this incredible platform to do projects that require a different context and take the artists into a new area, be that an orchestral version or a whole other version of what they do.”

The Sydney Morning Herald:
“Florence + the Machine with the Ceremonial Orchestra: The Machine unplugged, replaced and reinvented, for one night only.”

Music Junkee on Janelle Monáe: 
“The show is an immersive experience, soaked in the mythology of the ArchAndroid persona that drives all her music, but also in African-American culture, Hollywood, pop music and the places where they intertwine ... It does feel like a concert in a future or alternative world songs are already classics, and that’s part of the charm.”

Sufjan Stevens on Planetarium: 
At first it didn't have lyrics, and we were naming everything based on astrology ... We were just using our kind of horoscope-like concepts … There's a sort of beautiful perfect order to life on earth that's so mysterious and so profound. And yet as people we really f*** it up. We're so dysfunctional, and we seek guidance from the exterior world, from the heavens, to help us understand our purpose here and to sort of create a sense of order.”

Kraftwerk The Catalogue in 3D · Bobby Womack · The Gurrumul Project · Cloud Control · Empire of the Sun · Club Kooky · and more

The Guardian on Kraftwerk:
It’s a post-modern Ring Cycle with all attendant mythological trappings reinforced by the Opera House as venue. Given 3D glasses upon admission, we are subjected to an immersive onslaught of light and sound that comes as close to synaesthesia as legally possible.  It's difficult to imagine anything embodying Vivid LIVE's stated theme of ‘light, music and ideas’ with more finesse.”

Ben Marshall, Vivid LIVE 2018 Curator:
“Since 2011, we’ve welcomed in the underground heroes of Sydney nightlife, bringing their unique celebrations of sub/club cultures to the Opera House Studio Parties at Vivid LIVE. Few embody this more than Club Kooky, the glittering jewel in Sydney’s queer scene crown. In 2013, Club Kooky celebrated their 18th birthday in a coming-of-age Vivid LIVE finale of dramatic and debaucherous proportions with an all-out Hercules & Love Affair reunion featuring Aérea Negrot, Kim Ann Foxman and Shaun J Wright and we can’t wait to see what they bring in 2018.”

Lorna Clarkson, Red Bull Academy:
The best parties are when you have the perfect storm of great friends, great sound system and the music is unexpected end exciting. And people are there to dance—not ‘be seen’ ... Kooky delivered this consistently.”

Pixies · Ms. Lauryn Hill · St. Vincent · James Vincent McMorrow · Anna Calvi · Giorgio Moroder + the Heritage Orchestra · Nils Frahm · The Presets + ACO Timeline · and more

Jan Utzon:
Vivid has become a mature art form. My deepest respect and admiration to the creators of this magnificent show. My father, Jørn Utzon would have loved to see his creation used in this way.”

The Sydney Morning Herald on St. Vincent:
The stage is dark but we can just see St. Vincent (Annie Clark) reach for water and take a swig. Thirty minutes into a show that hasn’t deviated from its stark choreography, this action is shocking. 'She’s real?' we marvel. 'She needs water to survive? Just like a regular human?'”

Robbie Buck, ABC Radio, on Pixies: 
They are a group that every time they play, you don’t know whether it’s going to be the last time they will ever perform. To see them in an iconic building like the Opera House is an amazing thing, really.”

The Music:
Nils Frahm's debut Australian show was nothing short of astounding.”

The Guardian on Anna Calvi:
“Sitting through her set feels like being at the centre of a tempest ... You daren’t look away. Anna Calvi comes to Vivid LIVE with the seal of approval from some of the most important figures in pop. Yet even the hyper-articulate Brian Eno and Nick Cave have trouble putting into words just why she’s such a significant talent. Frankly, it’s hard to describe an artist so unpredictable.”


Flume and Marcus Whale (Collarbones) perform 'Turning' on the Northern Broadwalk.

Flume and Marcus Whale (Collarbones) perform 'Turning' on the Northern Broadwalk.

An Evening with Morrissey · Sufjan Stevens · FCX ft. Flume · TV On The Radio · Squarepusher · The Preatures · and more

Warren Ellis, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds / Dirty Three / Grinderman on the appointment of Ben Marshall as Vivid LIVE Curator:
Two of the great thrills of my performing career have been playing at the Sydney Opera House, quite possibly my favourite building in the whole world. This has been solely due to the tireless campaigning of Ben Marshall. Since his instalment as Head of Contemporary Music, Ben has managed to open the doors to groups like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Dirty Three and many others, in attempt to honour the artistic beats in contemporary music, as is de rigueur in the equivalent European and American concert halls.

“The building was built to reflect the cultural aspirations of its society and it’s essential that the programming reflect the lifeblood of contemporary music rather than the traditional arts centre presentations. What an amazing gift for the performers and audience alike. How fabulous and encouraging for us all that Ben is now the new festival curator of Vivid LIVE.”

Ben Marshall, current Vivid LIVE Curator:
I have vivid teenage memories of Morrissey's face all over our lever-arch files in high school. So it’s amazing to now showcase his artistry on the Concert Hall stage. These four vital, intimate concerts will be a very special occasion for all those like-minded souls who’ve been affected by Morrissey.”

Flume on filming ‘Some Minds’ at the Opera House ( Pitchfork):
I love travelling, but Sydney is my home. It was humbling to be able to make something in a building so iconic. Being inside the Sydney Opera House filming overnight with no one in the building was a real privilege—it has such a presence, so much character … It’s our love letter to Sydney.”

TV on the Radio on FBi Radio:
It was strange to try to acclimate yourself to a room that big first off, then you also realise it's the Sydney Opera House. We can’t really mess this up right now … It takes a couple seconds for it to sink in, even when you’re playing...”

Thump on Squarepusher:
“As he took us deeper and deeper I realised he wasn't only wedged between the screens to twist and mix his drill and bass brilliance, rather to facilitate a third surface of visual vortex. This is when s*** got real; he had completely enveloped himself inside the show, with no chance of return nor escape.”


Max Richter and the American Contemporary Music Ensemble perform 'Sleep' in the Concert Hall Northern Foyer. Video: Yulia Mahr

Max Richter and the American Contemporary Music Ensemble perform 'Sleep' in the Concert Hall Northern Foyer. Video: Yulia Mahr

Anohni HOPELESSNESS · New Order + ACO · Bon Iver Cercle · Max Richter Sleep · Ta-ku · Hiatus Kaiyote · Deafheaven · and more

Ben Marshall, Vivid LIVE 2016 Curator:
“We’re a venue that’s designed to host great art and if you’re missing what’s going on in contemporary music, you’re missing a large part of what’s interesting in the modern art world.”

Bon Iver on imagining Cercle: 
“I think  every time we play a song differently, I would say whatever environment we are in whether a rock concert place or symphony hall or a hallway, it’s always important to remember what purpose the music in the room is serving, to me and the people listening to you.”

Max Richter, pianist and composer: 
I’ve been dreaming of playing at the Sydney Opera House ever since I was a child, this beautiful iconic sculpture of a building with its billowing sails. I’ve played in the Concert Hall before but I wanted to return with ‘Sleep’. It’s such a personal project for me and there’s something very emotional in the architecture of this building.

“There was the most incredible storm that night. The wind and the rain, so loud as we were playing, and it felt like it was accompanying us through the night. It kind of became part of the performance.”

Anohni, on her performance during Vivid LIVE, to FBi Radio: 
“Well, it’s electronic music—it’s very, very different from anything that people have seen me do before. It’s going to be a live presentation of the songs with some very interesting visual components. There will be a series of portraits playing in tandem with the concert, portraits of different women … With this idea that my body would almost be annihilated if my body and voice were separated. I’ve been playing with this idea a lot in developing the ideas for the live shows.”


AIR in the Concert Hall

AIR in the Concert Hall

Fleet Foxes · Nick Murphy Missing Link · AIR · Laura Marling · The Avalanches Block Party · Richie Hawtin CLOSE · Sampha · Nai Palm · Camp Cope · and more

Robin Pecknold, Fleet Foxes on performing at the Opera House: 
In this time, when all action towards unity is vital, our means of engendering union is through music, collective communal performance, on any stage that will have us, and there is no better stage in the world than the Opera House.”

“Vivid LIVE is all about the intersection of music, performance, art and light, and you could hardly imagine a more appropriate headline act for it than Richie Hawtin.”

“I feel like when you’re creating stuff you never really know what you’re doing or what you’re trying to go for. Everyone’s just making stuff and kind of winging it to a degree. You kind of wonder how to handle this new space and connect to things outside of my album being released, and all the increased attention and stimulus you get from that.”


Solange · Mazzy Star · Ice Cube · Cat Power ·
· H.E.R. · Neil Finn · and more

Ben Marshall:
“Vivid LIVE 2018 celebrates ten years of rigorous contemporary music completely taking over the Sydney Opera House. It’s a remarkable moment and there’s no other way to experience the Opera House quite like this. It’s an honour to be presenting my fourth Vivid LIVE program, one that weaves defiance, identity, community and celebration with incredible modern music.”

Click here for the full Vivid LIVE 2018 line-up and come celebrate our 10th anniversary.