Joy and melancholy abound at Mazzy Star's first Australian show
Is it possible to be both happy and melancholic at the same time? That was me, last night as Mazzy Star cast a spell over the Sydney Opera House, enveloping us in their slow, hypnotic, dreamy beauty.
We’ve been waiting a long time to see Mazzy Star play, perhaps they were just too chilled over 30 years to make it on a plane to Australia. But they made up for it last night with a stunning show drawing liberally from all four albums.
‘Flowers In December’ was the perfect beginning, with David Roback’s strummy guitars coupled with Hope Sandoval’s harmonica and that memorable opening lyric: ‘Before I let you down again…’.
Their songs have a meditative quality which cuts straight to the heart.
It was no surprise that Mazzy Star stood shrouded in darkness for the entire show, silhouettes against impressionistic landscape photography.
Sandoval’s nervousness as a performer is notorious, but she hid it well, standing poised and motionless centre stage.
After all, who cares? Mazzy Star are musical introverts.
They embody restraint, their songs have a meditative quality which cuts straight to the heart.
Sandoval’s voice is a jewel and doesn’t appear to have changed with age. It floats, mesmerising in its half-awake beauty, against David Roback’s guitar mastery and the band’s palette of percussion, keys, pedal steel and violin.
‘Ride It On’ had a gentle country lilt and ‘Blue Flower’ was all fuzzy pop, while new song ‘Quiet the Winter Harbour’ slowly unveiled Hope’s lyrical longing alongside flourishes of pedal steel.
‘Fade Into You’ was simply gorgeous and felt over before it even began.
‘So Tonight That I Might See’, the closing song on their second album of the same name, provided an welcome opportunity for the band to stretch out. Hope intoned her lyrics against swirling and ghostly psychedelic strangeness, evoking both the spirit of The Velvet Underground and The Doors.
Mazzy Star have soundtracked so many key moments in my life - post party comedowns, late night love and heartbreak, grief over lost friends, and joy at weddings. ‘So Tonight That I Might See’ helped me run the gamut of childbirth too, so it’s no wonder last night I felt both happy and sad at the same time.
That’s the power of great music and Mazzy Star remind us that, in a world spinning fast, sometimes the best thing to do is stop, breathe and feel.