To celebrate the return of live music, the Arts Centre Melbourne has announced a massive line up for their Live at the Bowl festival.

Held at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, the festival will be running throughout summer to reinvigorate the arts sector and allow community members to once again relish in live performances.

Included in the first line up announcement are deadly Indigenous artists Mo’Ju, Spinifex Gum and Soju Gang.

Known for their rich gospel harmonies and their work with Paul Kelly, sister duo Vika & Linda Bull will also be performing at the Bowl on February 14. The Melbourne duo have Tongan heritage and have kept close community ties throughout their careers.

Throughout Melbourne lockdown, Vika & Linda performed ‘Sunday Sing Song’ live streams on social media.

“We did one song and it just had such a great feel. Instantly when we started singing and doing [live streams] off the cuff, the reaction was very surprising,” Linda Bull told NIT.

“And so, we just kept it going. Doing that really got us through some pretty hard days.”

A big year for the powerhouses, Vika & Linda’s Sunday weekly live streams inspired their album Sunday (The Gospel According to Iso), which followed the release of their first ‘best-of’ collection Akilotoa (Anthology 1994-2006) in June 2020.

Vika and Linda Bull. Photo supplied.

After topping the ARIA charts with Akilotoa (Anthology 1994-2006), the two are excited to take their new tracks to the live stage.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to sing to an audience, because … this year, we’ve been singing to a camera,” Linda said.

“That connection and hearing music in the room is something quite different to hearing it through a phone or a computer.”

“When you hear it play live, you can really feel the power of it. And I think that’ll be exciting in that beautiful venue.”

Singer-songwriter Moju Ruiz de Luzuriaga, known as Mo’Ju, accompanied by Orchestra Victoria, will perform at the Bowl on January 16.

Starting out in the industry, Mo’Ju said she received feedback that her politically charged music “wouldn’t translate” and was “not Australian”.

Yet the release of her album Native Tongue which explores her Indigenous and Filipino identity commanded the attention of the nation, winning song and album of the year at the 2019 National Indigenous Music Awards and multiple ARIA nominations.

“I had reached a point where I was like, I don’t know if I’m going to keep making music. This might be my last album. So I had nothing left to lose. I’m just gonna say everything that I want to say,” Mo’Ju said about Native Tongue.

“And you know, I think people … respond to authenticity.”

Mo’Ju’s Native Tongue took home a number of awards in 2019. Photo supplied.

After taking the year to write and spend time as a new parent, Mo’Ju said she is excited to perform on the live stage again.

“The thing that’s most exciting to me right now is just being my with my band … and actually getting to do what we love doing,” she said.

On January 15, club DJ and designer Soju Gang will be presenting SorBaes, a community summer party featuring high energy artists like BARKAA, Kobi Spice and POOKIE.

Five dollars from every ticket for this set will go to the Dhadjowa Foundation which amplifies the voices of families who have died in custody.

Live at the Bowl begins January 8 with a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony by Boon Wurrung Elder N’arweet Carolyn Briggs and Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Diane Kerr, followed by a performance from Indigenous youth choir, Spinifex Gum.

Acting CEO of Arts Centre Melbourne Beau Vigushin said creating a safe environment is a high priority.

“There is now a reduced capacity audience in a physically distanced, COVIDSafe environment with purpose-built private decks set up on the main lawn for groups of 4–6 people who know each other,” Vigushin told NIT.

“The stalls have also been modified to include five tiered levels fitted with tables to seat either pairs or groups of four.

“The two side balconies will also be available for those who wish to attend an event solo or with a guest.”

Admissions are strictly ticketed, including free events, with a maximum of 3,000 visitors permitted at any one time, which is 25 per cent of the venue’s regular capacity.

To find further information on dates and to purchase tickets, visit: https://liveatthebowl.com.au/venue-and-tickets.

By Grace Crivellaro