LET me tell you about a happening, a love-in if you like; an event that had such a powerful feelgood factor you could almost touch it. Many evenings late last month were taken up by the Vivid Live festival, part of the Vivid Sydney extravaganza that lights up that part of the city around and including Sydney Opera House for a few weeks each year. SD was fortunate to see some of the illuminating musical performances, including those by Gurrumul and Kraftwerk, but one in particular is worthy of attention here. The opera house has flirted with rock music through the years and appears now to be going steady with it. There was no better illustration of this blossoming romance than the performance by Aussie rock veterans Sunnyboys in the venue’s concert hall last Sunday night. The band, fronted by Jeremy Oxley, a singer and songwriter who has suffered from schizophrenia for most of his adulthood, was making a rare return to the stage, a renaissance that began last year after a career that had its heyday with three albums and a host of singles in the early 1980s. Some who saw this performance had watched a documentary a few hours earlier, The Sunnyboy, about Oxley’s struggle. Excerpts from the film were shown just before the show, which only added to the emotion in the room when the four members of the band — Oxley, his older brother Peter on bass, drummer Bill Bilson and guitarist Richard Burgman — walked on to the stage. What followed was 90 minutes of joyous celebration as the band powered through its best work, including Alone with You and Happy Man. Vivid had begun nine days earlier with the first of Kraftwerk’s eight performances, a vastly different show from this one, not least because of its 3-D component. And it has to be said that Kraftwerk, no matter how much you love the band, are a glum bunch on stage. In that respect what a wonderful contrast it was to witness Sunnyboys, the festival’s closing act. The band’s obvious delight just at being on the concert hall stage was enough to light up the room and a good proportion of Circular Quay. Burgman in particular looked for the entire set as if he’d won the lottery. And it was reciprocal happiness. As someone who goes to concerts for a living, SD can attest that dancing conducted by certain people can be an excruciating by-product of the concert experience, an occupational hazard during which well-meaning fans grapple with their understanding of the words rhythm and beat. Good luck to them. How great it was, though, to see hundreds of Sunnyboys fans with smiles as big as the band’s, but also shaking their collective booty impressively and in time to the music, some of them in the sacred aisles of the concert hall. It was a funky, shameless show of solidarity, respect and sheer joy by a crowd where the average age would have been 45; not that there’s an age limit on having a good time. Many acts make comebacks, more now than ever in fact, but I can’t remember feeling so much love in a room for an Australian band that, like its audience, was reliving its glorious youth. It was a fantastic experience. THANKS again to those who responded to the album covers column items, this time to the 10 favourite Australian album covers of the 21st century published last week. There will be another list, yet to be conceived, quite soon. HAPPY birthday today to Nancy Sinatra (73), Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall (53) and Kanye West (36).