Yothu Yindi And The Treaty Project Brisbane Festival Review @ The Tivoli Theatre

Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project played Brisbane Festival at The Tivoli Theatre (16 September, 2018). Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project played Brisbane Festival at The Tivoli Theatre (16 September, 2018).

It was an evening of joy and politics, a blending of old and new, and celebration of family.


The Brisbane Festival performance by Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project (supported by Yirrmal) at The Tivoli Theatre on Sunday night (16 September) is hard to describe as it was a smashing of contrasts; with stripped-back vocals and guitars packing the same punch as the big, brass sounds and pounding drums.

The evening was presented in two parts (as well as a warm Welcome to Country) with rising star Yirrmal (Marika of North-East Arnhem Land and son of Yothu Yindi founding member Witiyana Marika) playing as the opening act.

YirrmalYirrmal - image © Charlyn Cameron

With just his guitar and a big set of lungs, he took to the stage and showcased his songs which “mix traditional songs with western style”. Sung in a blend of English and his native language, many of the songs appear on his debut EP ‘YoungBlood’; with heartfelt ballad ‘Shining Light’ and the booming, foot-stamping ‘Spirt of Place’ two of the highlights.

After a lengthy break (it seemed like the crew were battling some tech issues in the changeover period), it was time for members of the Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project collaboration to perform.

Yothu Yindi.4Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project - image © Charlyn Cameron

While the featured line-up did not quite match the advertised line-up; there was a lot of mixing and matching onstage as performers – including Yothu Yindi founding members: Witiyana Marika, Stu Kellaway and Kevin Malngay Yunupingu; Stu’s son Roy Kellaway on guitar, Yirrmal again as part of the ensemble, former band member Ben Hakalitz on drums, Ania Reynolds (of Circus Oz fame) on keys and baritone sax, cabaret performer Kamahi Djordon King and DJ Gavin Campbell who originally remixed the chart-topping ‘Treaty’ all those years ago.

Somehow, they all made this traditional meets electronic, cross-generational music work in an upbeat performance.

Click here for more photos from the show.

While there were a number of new songs performed, written specially to showcase the strengths of new and younger members of the band such at ‘Fire Walker’ and ‘Mabo’, the revisited classics were favoured by the crowd, including a cracking version of the highly danceable ‘Djapana’ and ‘Tribal Voice’ where they got the crowd to sing the chorus.

Yothu Yindi.2Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project - image © Charlyn Cameron

They (obviously) closed their performance with ‘Treaty’ and while singing along, it was striking to note that this is still an issue that is unresolved in this country nearly 30 years after the song was released.

However, despite performing songs that highlighted how little some things have changed for our First Peoples, it was an uplifting, inclusive event that saw a highly diverse audience draw together to celebrate Australia’s musical history and what the future may hold.

Yothu Yindi.3Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project - image © Charlyn Cameron

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