– by Maggie Bochat
Sometimes you hear a voice so beautiful it makes you forget. Forget about the assignment you handed in late or the email you didn’t reply to. You forget about returning that call from work or what to eat for dinner. You forget that you’re sitting in the Perth Concert Hall on a Wednesday that felt more like Monday, surrounded by people who are forgetting things too.
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu is that voice. On the 13th of August, eight years since he last performed in Perth, Gurrumul delivered a 90 minute set of love, hope and incredible sound.
Alongside bassist/narrator Michael Hohnen, guitarist Ben Hauptmann and drummer Tony Floyd, Gurrumul crafted his songs with a community of talented musicians. Singer-songwriter Caiti Baker, 26 members of the WASO Chorus, Lucky Oceans and keyboard player Matt McMahon complemented each song, filling and moving with the vibrations like a close knit family.
But the focus was always Gurrumul. Shy and humble, the crowd was mesmerised by his stillness. His voice lifted up to the high ceilings and reflected off the lights, lifting people out of their seats and into his Yolngu language. The Gospel Album, the band’s newest release, fits the spiritual experience that is Gurrumul.
I could tell you what song was played and when, the part where the crowd stomped their feet, and when his family member performed a tribal dance. I could write about Gurrumul’s duet with Caiti Baker that brought us to tears, or the laughter when Hohnen said a song name wrong. I could tell you about all of this – but I won’t.
I will tell you to listen to Gurrumul. Listen to him when the sound of traffic gets too much or you’re stuck in a supermarket aisle. Listen to him when you forget how beautiful our country is (which ever one you’re in). Listen to him when you can’t quite hear the birds or jump in salt-water or feel dirt between your toes. Listen to him and he’ll help you remember. Remember what’s important in life – you’ll wonder how you ever forgot.
Photo Credit: PicInk Photography 2011