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Review: Ngaiire dazzles audience at Sydney Opera House

When Ngaiire began to sing I felt as if I was being shaken to life.  

As a first timer to the Sydney Opera House, I didn’t walk in with many expectations. Beautiful classical instruments, for sure. An elegant venue. A conventional performance. I certainly did not expect to see the entire crowd of the Sydney Opera House stand up and dance to Ngaiire’s last song, in rapture due to the magic of the woman on stage. 

The night opened with a Sydney Symphony Orchestra soulful piece, conducted by Nicholas Buc. Blue lights lit the stage. A golden harp was plucked. The scene was reminiscent of a dreamscape, mesmerising in its natural beauty.  

Then the bongos began rolling and instrumental music group GODTET, led by Godriguez, got a groove going. The musicians of GODTET were one with their music; funky and hip they vibed out with their instruments and an audience whose heads bobbed along. 

Tempestuous transitions in mood kept the audience on its toes. Upbeat tunes from GODTET dissolved into beautiful instrumentals from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. At one point, the musicians all began to play calamitously, a riot of sound that set my nerves on edge. A moment later, it ceased and the piano solo gave a breath of air.  

The shifting blue to red lights of the stage made me feel as if I was in a dystopian novel. At the end of the performance my only wish was to hear more from the GODTET musicians!  

 When Ngaiire appeared after intermission and began to sing I wasn’t sure whether to burst into tears or get up and dance.  

Ngaiire and Sydney Symphony Orchestra perform at the Sydney Opera House. Photo:Jordan Munns

Ngaiire casts a striking figure. She walked on stage in a glittering, black gown and trailing veil. What immediately captured me was her presence. Ngaiire is very charismatic and had the audience wrapped around her little finger in moments. During her performance I heard people in the audience shout ‘we love you Ngaiire’ and ‘you’re beautiful’ – their energy a far cry from what I expected from a typical Opera House audience.  

Ngaiire’s powerful voice resonated through the Opera House, filling the room with emotion. Her backup vocalists, Billy Mcarthy and Alwyn De Los Santos, and the Symphony Orchestra blended together seamlessly to create an enchanting web of sound.  

The fullness of her neo-soul pop music lies in both sound and lyrics. “We shake our bodies till we go insane” Ngaiire sang during the song “Once” with the audience swaying along. Another song was a quirky take on Australians’ much-loved Tame Impala song “The Less I Know the Better”.  

I have never felt so devastated to see a singer leave the stage at interval but Ngaiire was soon back, dressed in a dazzling gown.  

 The dress, the patterns of the light dancing over the audience, the backup singers dancing along – every piece of the performance was infused with laughter and life.  

 At the final song, Ngaiire’s voice lifted the entire audience to its feet. Under the beautiful wooden pillars of the Opera House people danced freely. When Ngaiire returned for an encore of “Dirty Hercules”, phones lit up. The sea of fireflies seemed a fitting end to the night and an awestruck audience stood in deafening applause.  

The music of Ngaiire and GODTET reaches the hearts of its listeners. I will carry the memory of this night with me for a long time to come.  


Jessica Watson
Jessica Watson
Jessica Watson is a second-year student studying a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Advanced Studies, majoring in Media and Communications and Sociology. With an interested in politics and a love of literature, I hope to one day have a career in journalism.

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