A visual history of Sydney's grandest outdoor stage
Sydney Opera House
20 Jun 2017
In the spring of 1996, thousands of Australians spilled across the Forecourt, full moon glinting above the tip of the main sail.
Some claim at least a hundred thousand people squeezed onto the Monumental Steps; others recall it reached a quarter of a million. To those thousands, frontman Neil Finn bid farewell with one last song. Hey now, hey now … don’t dream it’s over, he sang. It wouldn’t be the last time Crowded House would play.
“Our manager at the time thought it was a great way to go out with a bang,” Finn would tell 7.30 twenty years later. “But I thought it was a bit too grandiose.”
There’s something that makes music different out in the open air. Panoramic sound framed by the temple-like steps, the ocean breeze on a clear night, the backdrop of Sydney ferries and the Harbour Bridge. At the end of this year, the Kiwi pop prodigy Lorde will become the youngest person ever to perform on the Forecourt stage, a fitting place to celebrate an artist at their peak. “It’s one of the grandest gestures the city can make,” Ben Marshall told The Sydney Morning Herald. As the Opera House’s Head of Contemporary Music, Marshall is one of the people tasked with picking the right people to play. “We’re acutely conscious of saving it for what we see as appropriate artistic moments.” A legendary run of Chet Faker, Florence + the Machine and Tame Impala shows held a record 24,000 people in the space of a few weekends.
In a royal purple suit, Neil Finn, his brother Tim and a refreshed Crowded House returned for their ‘encore’, twenty years after the original farewell. “If we came back every week, would you come?” Finn asked the crowd of five thousand – a fraction of the legendary hundred-thousand punters years ago. The final chords of ‘Better Be Home Soon’ rang out over the harbour. “It’s truly been a transformative night for me tonight,” said Finn. They had three more nights in the evening air of the Forecourt.
Lorde performs two shows on the Forecourt this November. First show sold out, tickets to the second available here.
"It's truly been a transformative night."
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