Image description: on a stage, two Indigenous women – both with braids – sing into microphones and face each other. One woman’s face is visible in the camera; her facial expression is one of deep emotional and intensity.
By Elaine Hanlon
On Saturday night, at the Chevron Lighthouse, was a show of hope – if you’re brave enough to heed the call!
The support act for the night was The Odette Mercy Trio, who opened with some old-school Soul. It smouldered with a smooth, 70s sound, and a bass I could feel thumping in my bones. Their all-original range of songs were written from the heart and sprinkled with stories of their inspiration. Odette had an easy banter with the audience, with a wicked sense of humour and no fear of oversharing.
Ahead of the main act, we were welcomed with a beautiful speech about finding common ground and standing as one, painting a picture of Australia as an example to the world: a showcase of what diversity and multiculturalism could look like. Then, projected behind the stage, a video rolled with the colours of the outback, red dirt and the bluest sky, cut through by that icon of Western industrialism: the locomotive.
Below, the choir opened with their first song. Spinifex Gum is a choir of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls named Marliya of Gondwana; they work under the guidance of the band Cat Empire’s Felix Riebl and Ollie McGill to produce this unique music project. The group of twelve girls were dressed in black, but proudly wielded microphones with thick cords in the colours of the Aboriginal flag. The songs were supported with a flow of deftly-perfected synchronised movement and video.
Songs such as Together and I am the Greatest included expressions of empowerment. Make it Rain beautifully captured this sunburnt land’s relationship with water, and I swear a few drops fell from the sky as we listened. But a central theme of the show was a compelling message about the disenfranchisement of Aboriginal people. It wasn’t hard to share the choir’s rage at stories of racism and injustice, and the severing of connection to Country in the name of capitalism. Locked Up presented shocking facts about Aboriginal people’s prosecution and incarceration rates, while the heartbreaking Ms Dhu showed images of police brutality and recordings of Julieka Dhus’s treatment before her death in custody.
As a white Australian, I was ashamed of the chilling reality, and the indifference of our culture and our Government to the plight of Australia’s First Peoples. But overall, the show delivers hope and energy with a message of unity and rebirth. Dream Baby Dream and Voice, Treaty, Truth, Now asks that we be the change we want to see in the world and move forward as one people.
Five out of five.
Elaine recommends the show to every Australian.
Image courtesy of Marnie Richardson