Opera House Forecourt, November 12


It’s only partly that he’s funny, zany and musical. Tim Minchin’s other layer comes in his lyrics and elongated between-song patter, when, somehow, he makes us feel better about being ourselves. Who else does this? The introverted songwriters beat themselves up (and make us collateral damage), and the extroverted ones deal in communal feel-good therapy. Tim’s completely at ease about being Tim, ginger hair, mascara, bare feet and all, and somehow that gives us the green light to feel okay about (speaking for myself) being driftwood washed up on the beach of life.

Tim Minchin. Photos: Jacquie Manning

Even when he’s targeting pet hates – from Tony Abbott to the grotesque, plague-ridden Majestic Princess, which, just across Circular Quay, had the gall to set sail at showtime, making a sound like a dying moose – the venom’s tempered. There’s always a warmth, so any mockery or irreverence is benign and bemused rather than vicious.

Out front, Minchin is charismatic and unpredictable, treating the show like a ball he can bounce, throw or kick, knowing his expert septet (led by fellow keyboards player Sarah Belkner) will be ready on the rebound to catch the cues and lift the lid on the energy.

This was part of the Opera House’s 50th birthday celebrations, and the forecourt concert’s logistics were fully sorted, although the sound was initially bass heavy and vocal light – hardly helpful when the lyrics are as much a star as Minchin the performer. But that was resolved, and the songs shone with all their wit and benevolence.

As good as the music was when pumping, the highlights were the more elegiac pieces, such as Apart Together (about a lifelong love being a commitment to witness another’s decay) and I’ll Take Lonely Tonight (about saying no to proffered sex on the road). Another defining aspect of Minchin’s work is that his love songs always contain a quirk or tweak to steer them away from the saccharin. Meanwhile the ingenuousness of it all makes the show seem like a teenage bedroom dream that’s just happened to come true. You deserve it, Tim.