Live Review: Ngaiire + Godtet + Sydney Symphony Orchestra – Sydney Opera House (04.05.24)


If I’m going to make one recommendation to you this year, let it be this: attend a Sydney Opera House show on a rainy Saturday night. If it’s with Ngaiire as the headline act, then that will make the night that much better.

On the back of the release of her new live album, Live at the Sydney Opera House, Ngaiire returned once more with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and produced one of the most wholesome and fulfilling sets you’ll likely get. Opening the night with the orchestra was Sydney jazz-fusion band Godtet. Playing a seamless 30-minute set helped ease the crowd into the evening, providing a slinky vibe filled with atmospheric orchestral highs you’d come to expect from such an evening.

Entering the stage just prior to 9:15pm, Ngaiire acknowledged the crowd and Country, thanking its descendants for allowing her to play on their land before formally starting with “Three”, a song from her most recent studio album of the same name, and one that while sombre in its delivery, really showcases the quality in Ngaiire as an performer and songwriter.

Ably supported by her three-piece band and two back up singers, the ensemble moved into “Shiver”, which not only is a stand out on the studio version, but allowed the orchestra to flex their muscles for the first time. Swiftly going onto her biggest and most well-known song, “Once”, Ngaiire reflected on the journey the song has taken her on, even all these years after first writing it with Paul Mac and Megan Washington. An easy highlight for the set and night, everything was all guns blazing, the vocals were on point with the band crushing it, while the orchestra levelled everything up and rounded all on stage out perfectly.

The set was split into what felt like a Side A and Side B, with the side A being the upbeat moments of the night, while Side B for the most part leant into the more reflective and ethereal songs. Ending the first half of the night with the completely great “House on a Rock” and “Moonshine”, Ngaiire announced a special cover of the Tame Impala track “The Less I Know The Better”. In a world where every man and his dog has a cover they’re known for, this version by Ngaiire stands heads and shoulders above its nearest rival.

The second half of the night went by in a blink of an eye, with “Ordinary”, “Glorious” and “Glitter” all getting a run, while the night was briefly halted by a wardrobe malfunction on “Diggin”. The closing three songs were magical beyond all means, with Paul Mac playing the organ high above the concert hall on “Fireflies” and “Fall Into My Arms”, while closer “Dirty Hercules” was holistic in its ability to tie together everything great about the night in one fell swoop.

There’s a special place in the world for contemporary music and orchestra collaborations. Doing it in a venue like the Sydney Opera House  and with an artist like Ngaiire really tops it all off. I’d recommend taking a chance on a night like this in the near future. They may not roll around all that often, but when they do, take the opportunity with both hands. You won’t regret it.

Review score: Five Stars (out of Five)

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Photo by Jordan Munns.