Vivid Live Review: Solange opens Sydney Opera House season with show bursting with bold honesty

Solange didn’t know if she’d make it to Sydney for her run of Vivid shows.

Standing atop the stairs set up in the middle of the Opera House’s Concert Hall, she walked back and forth while telling the sold out crowd that there was a moment back in October where she seriously thought performing would be a thing of the past. But here she was, in the centre of a large room for the first time since, with support and applause raining down. There are many challenges that stand in the way of artistry, Solange mentions during this interlude, challenges she wishes she was taught more about when she was making her first steps into the entertainment business as a pre-teen. However, standing here and being able to engage with her audiences in the way A Seat At the Table has allowed her to, is the pay off.

The stage set up and by extension, the whole visual aesthetic was impeccable. The simple stage outfits meant that when the stage would be bathed in red, purple or blues, the performers stood out strong. Of course, the Opera House’s Concert Hall is going to have wonderful acoustics at the best of times – tonight was no exception. There wasn’t much improv or freestyling with the arrangement but with the show being so meticulously put together, you didn’t leave wanting any more. There wasn’t anything lacking. The horns and bass were great, the dynamic between Solange and her backing vocalists was crisp and on lead vocals, Solange herself executed excellent range.

From the opening of “Rise” into “Weary”, Solange’s performance commanded full attention; the importance of A Seat At the Table was clearly felt by many in the room and we were all in attendance to properly soak each moment up. The record was brought to life with depth and evocative boldness – the choreography that would accompany the songs was clean and crisp, though moments where Solange would break into a twerk, to rolling around on the ground, were great moments of fun. As much as she was a focused, concentrated performer, Solange showed us she could still break and get down like everyone else.

Her earlier work was also given due time in the spotlight, with “Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work”, “T.O.N.Y” and of course, “Losing You”, bringing the whoops from the crowd. The way the lighting played with the tone of the show was expertly done; the reds centred the more emotionally heavy material of A Seat At the Table, while the blues and brighter tones brought that weight up slightly, harking back to the True era. The crowd was encouraged to be as involved as we could be, the formalities of the Opera House’s revered history being thrown out the window for the 75 minute show.

This was the mode of the evening. Though we were gathered in one of the most iconic live music venues in the country, Solange’s live environment felt more intimate. Encouraging people to dance, coming off the stage to dance with people during the rousing “F.U.B.U”, giving a nod to Kelly Rowland, who looked on at the show like a proud sister, Solange was in her element; knowing that it was a real possibility that she mightn’t not perform again back then, it made her first show of four here in Sydney all the more enjoyable.

The reviewer attended this event on June 1st. Solange plays at the Sydney Opera House until June 4th.

Lead image: Dan Boud.