By Sophie Gargett

It’s hard not to be feverish with enthusiasm when sitting on the shores of Iain Grandage’s ocean of excitement. He gave a festival-worthy performance of his own when launching the 2023 Perth Festival last night at the Perth Concert Hall.

This year’s theme is ‘Djinda’, Noongar for the ‘cosmos’ – an apt metaphor for the scattering of star performers that mark the Festival’s line-up this year.

Coming together for a launch event for the first time in three years and with the promise of international artists finally returning after fortress Perth has lowered the bridge, there was a trill of thrill in the hall as the space glowed with a galaxy vibe of purple lights and milky-way smoke.

The night began with a cosmic Welcome to Country mesmerizingly put to song by Dr Roma Yibiyung Winmar before Iain burst onto the stage with a gobsmacking impromptu low-down of almost every event on the ticket. His passion for every one of the shows had me scrambling to buy tickets for all of them.

It’s hard to select only a few for mention – even the Hon David Templeman, Minister for Culture and the Arts, proclaimed in his opener that he ‘almost wet myself’ upon getting wind of the schedule – but other than the flagship Bjork show with a seven-tonne screen backdrop and multi-faceted art, music and performance elements, some of the other stand-outs are:

– Bon Iver at the Red Hill auditorium is touring with a haled performance of music and sound. With a special place in their heart for Perth (having written an ode to this city while touring here years ago for their namesake album), this will no doubt be a show with great mojo.

– Bikutsi 3000 is an African import of music, dance and fabulous costume by Blick Bassy that Iain himself went to Paris to scope out before booking her on the spot for one of the Festival’s opening pieces.

– Rounding out the month, Michaela Gleave will beam poems into the sky from lights stop the Art Gallery of WA by translating your words on the theme ‘Between Us’ into light-pulsing morse code.

There’s so much more to this feast from the Film Festival opening at the Sommerville with an early-release screening of Tim Winton’s tale of Blueback; Julia Jacklin, the muso’s musician wafting her honey-like tones across the Rechabite; Stephanie Lake Dance Company pounding drums and feet for a booming dance show; Jason Phu’s super-cool multi-dimensional art showing alongside a new piece he will be creating especially for us as artist in residence at the State Buildings.

The Festival of Perth is something for us to puff our chests about – with an extraordinary array of creative contributors and so many levels of accessibility, it matters not whether you are into street art and hip-hop or classical music and Shakespearean theatre – this is a global-scale feather-in—the-cap of a festival.

The 2023 incarnation is as packed as the night sky and promising to be just as glorious.

Perth Festival – 10 Feb to 5 March 2023

Check out the full schedule here


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