Meg Robinson

With The Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Sydney Town Hall. 3rd Feb, 2024

Reviewed : February 3, 2024

Photo : Zac Bayly

Singer, songwriter, musician, actor, director, producer … Meg Washington is all of these. A multi-talented performer who reaches across the arts, Washington has APRA, ARIA, Jazz Bell and Country Music awards to her credit. She is the voice of Calypso, the schoolteacher in Bluey and has recently written all the songs for a soon to be released feature film called The Deb, produced and directed by Rebel Wilson. With her partner Nick Waterman, she has co-written and co-produced a film adaptation of Paul Kelly’s song “How to Make Gravy” which is in production.

Now she is on a three capital cities tour singing with the symphony orchestras of Hobart, Sydney and Melbourne. What a thrill for her many fans to hear her sing her own songs accompanied by some of the best classical musicians in the country

“I love that if a song is written well enough, it can be robust enough to handle that much interrogation and still sound good and feel good,” she writes. And they can! Every one of the songs in this concert handles that “interrogation” perfectly.

With Vanessa Scammell conducting the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Washington’s music thrilled as powerfully as the singer herself. As she introduced the song “Honeysuckle Island”, Washington said she envisaged herself as the island with the music of the orchestra rolling like a tsunami rolling from behind her. And that is a perfect description of the effect of her music played by the orchestra.

Photo : Daniel Boud.

In every song, it rose behind her in a tidal wave of powerful notes reaching up to the high domes of the Town Hall and over the audience, resonating at times, delicately nuanced at others. In the first half of the performance Washington spoke only once, finishing a short observation with the words: “I see this as the gift it is.” She didn’t need to explain any further!

Washington sang songs form her much loved repertoire – “Catherine Wheel”, “Archilles Heart”, “How to tame Lions”. She shared the different joys of motherhood in the song “LobsterI, and introduced two new songs, “Dream On” and “Poetry Motion” which she performed as a duet with guitarist Ben Edgar.

The finale, a stunning orchestral arrangement of “Batflowers”, exemplified Washington’s idea of a song “changing over time just as you yourself change”.

Also published in Stage Whispers magazine