This review first appeared on the TP forum via Lyndon Pike aka Balearic Clapton and it was such a nice read I am posting it here. It isn't written by me (Apiento) at all but long story short adding new writers on TP takes a minute. It was originally written for Eastside 89.7FM in Sydney. The review starts...

I went to see Devonte Hynes at the Sydney Opera House.

Producer, performer, and polymath Devonte Hynes first graced Australian shores in 2011 as indie darling Lightspeed Champion. Further tours under his electronic R&B moniker Blood Orange were cancelled in 2017 and again in 2023, so the announcement of Dev’s inclusion on the lineup for Vivid 2024 was met with great enthusiasm by fans of the East London-born artist. Upon arrival at the Opera House, it was evident that the crowd consisted heavily of Dev-otees who were there to take whatever journey Hynes had in store for us.

In recent years, Hynes has turned his genius to the world of classical composition, both for film and for orchestral performance. A series of concerts with master minimalist Phillip Glass and scoring the film Palo Alto were Hynes’ first forays into composing, which has seen him on a journey that the Sydney audience became a part of tonight. Emerging to rapturous applause, the shy, humble Hynes sat quietly to introduce the crowd to the evening with a gentle composition that quieted the Opera House’s main hall to near complete silence.

As his piano was rolled off into the wings, with Hynes accompanying, we were introduced to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the guidance of charismatic conductor Matthew Lynch, who then performed the lengthy but enthralling Naked Blue, a piece filled with grace and tension. As I listened to the dynamics and undulating melodies, I could hear snatches of Hynes’ methodologies under his previous guises in a new form.

After an interval that was spent out on the Opera House courtyard, taking in the brilliant lights of Vivid, we took our seats for the first duet with Hynes’ friend and collaborator, Adam Tendler. Tendler bounded onto the stage with a huge smile and jubilant energy before taking his seat at a second piano that faced Hynes. As the two began performing The Longest Ride, a piece Hynes wrote for the 2020 coming-of-age drama television miniseries We Are Who We Are, I couldn’t take my eyes off Adam Tendler’s physicality while playing. His was the robust foil for Hynes’ hypnotic circular motifs, with Tendler rising from his seat at times to give extra emotional energy to his enthusiastic performance. Enveloped in the piece, switching from ecstatic joy to deep-seated reverence, Tendler and Hynes kept a telepathic communication open throughout via acknowledgement, encouragement, and respect. It was a joy to witness.

Hynes exited once again, allowing Adam Tendler to take center stage accompanied by the SSO for Happenings, another display of physicality by Adam with a section spent under the piano lid, strumming and striking strings, banging and knocking on wood panels, before he emerges triumphant at the finale to rapturous applause.

Hynes walks back onto the stage and, sans mic, asks, “Can you all hear me?” He thanks the audience for taking the journey with him via music previously unheard on Australian soil, an acknowledgement signaling that he is aware that the majority of the crowd has arrived knowing his pop productions and not his classical leanings. I get the sense that everybody in attendance is completely on board with anything Hynes has to offer, aware that we are witnessing yet another stage in the remarkable evolution of a truly unique 21st-century artist.

We are treated to one more piece of music performed by Hynes and Tendler, a work written by misaligned, misunderstood queer black composer Julius Eastman, handled with tenderness and poignancy by the two musicians, and a perfect way to end a night of music that was a privilege to experience.