Swelling echoes of Sufjan Stevens' voice filled the Sydney Opera House to the delight of those attending.

The American singer-song writer, brought to Australia by Vivid Sydney to showcase his latest album Carrie and Lowell, did not disappoint.

Stevens swept up the crowd like an ocean, his music moving from a light gentle whisper into crashing crescendos. The music swirled through the Opera House, warming it with each pluck of a guitar string.

Sufjan Stevens performs at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Vivid festival. Photo/Vivid
Sufjan Stevens performs at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Vivid festival. Photo/Vivid

Accompanied by a four piece band, Stevens' switched from guitar, to banjo, to ukulele, to an open back piano. His band moving around the stage hitting wind chimes, synth keys, rolling drums, a trumpet and trombone.


The result? A night of musical magic.

With songs feeling more like poetry, Should Have Known Better and Wasp showed off Stevens' lyrical story telling, while Fourth of July and Casimir Pulaski reminded everyone there of their own sweet mortality.

In Vivid style, Blue Bucket of Gold became an overwhelming light show. Starting softly with mesmerising lights spinning of hidden disco balls, then growing with more colours and flashing in time with the intensity of the music. The stage became a wall of synthesised sound and strobes, which at times became almost painful to look at, forcing people in the crowd to close their eyes and let the music wash over them.

In the quieter moments, when it was simply Stevens playing the piano, the room was in a complete hush, so much so that you could hear the creak of the piano's foot pedal as he pressed down on them.

Stevens' also showed his humour half way through his set with a long-winded story, getting the crowd chuckling. Even when he forgot the opening lines to one of the songs, the audience was on his side, laughing as Stevens' shrugged and sighed before his band reminded him of the lyric.

Known best for Chicago, the song received a standing ovation. A decade on from its original release, it has lost none of its passion, especially live. Witnessing it come together with layered whimsical voices was spectacular.

Sufjan Stevens
When: Sunday, 24 May
Where: Vivid Live, Sydney Opera House, Australia

* For more information on Vivid Sydney visit: vividsydney.com and sydney.com. Rachel Bache travelled to Sydney thanks to Destination New South Wales.