Nick Cave, the Sydney Opera House’s Spirit Animal


(Photo of Nick soundchecking in the Concert Hall in 2013. I found this on Pinterest without a photographer’s credit, sadly.)



My book is available at



One of the strongest threads running through the book is how the Sydney Opera House has become an iconic rock’n’roll venue. All aspects of the life of the Opera House shift into a new era in 2011. This is when Nick Cave’s connection is made, when the video directed by Paul Goldman of his “Ship Song”, was uploaded to YouTube. It’s interpreted by all of the Australian arts companies resident at the Opera House and several, mostly Australian rock musicians, including Paul Kelly, Katie Noonan and Neil Finn.



The “Ship Song” Project’s vantage point, looking out from within the building is also the vantage point of my book. Nick didn’t appear in the video but the breadth of his curiosity and collaborative projects across disciplines makes him practically a one person arts ecosystem. He has written plays, the libretto for an opera, novels, music for film and theatre, songs for other performers, and many others have used his songs to underpin their own dance shows, puppet shows, television shows. He’s a perfect figure to introduce the Opera House as an arts ecosystem. I look at some of the ways his songs are involved in parts of the arts ecosystem. .


My book includes his collaborative projects with Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, particularly their film 20,000 Days on Earth, with a concert sequence filmed at the Opera House. And as the book is outward looking, it studies how Nick’s songs are alive in the city. It also includes his performances at the new International Convention Centre Sydney last January. .


I have a unique up-close perspective on his creative process as he uses notebooks I engineer for him to write his projects into. The Push the Sky Away album was issued in a limited edition boxed set that included a facsimile of one of these notebooks, and I also wrote, with Nick, the liner notes for the album. .


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