The Ghost of Time CD was released in Australia on
6th December. It received critical praise all around and charted
respectably. The reports that Spellbound received indicated that
The Ghost of Time reached #63 on the ARIA chart, #28 in
New South Wales, and #14 on the Australasian Artist Album chart.
Here are a few examples of the reviews for The Ghost of Time:
The Age - 17 December 1999 - Stephen Cauchi
Iva Davies, the singer-songwriter of '80s Aussie pop band Icehouse,
has dabbled in many eclectic projects this decade, including modern
dance production Berlin. But this work would appear to
be the jewel in the crown.
Davies has been commissioned to perform the music for New Year's
Eve at Sydney Harbour, and the result is this 45 minute, four-movement
reworking of his 1982 hit, "Great Southern Land." Enjoyable listening?
If you like a hefty dose of soaring, occasionally spooky ambience, reminiscent
in parts of Brian Eno's better mood pieces, then yes. The
conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Christopher Gordon, co-wrote
much of the new music and the Japanese avant garde techno unit Rom=Pari,
Taiko drums and Davies' electric guitar have added enough edge to
sustain interest, particularly on the 23 minute title track. The
live performance of The Ghost of Time will be telecast nationally
in the last hour of the old year.
Stone - March 2000 - David Nichols
Former Main Man of rippingly successful '80s band Icehouse writes
a symphony harkening back to his hit "Great Southern Land."
Iva Davies' music doesn't pander to trends or critics, and few
listeners will be able to sit through The Ghost of Time - recorded
before its debut performance at the Sydney Opera House on 31st December
last year - without all those old prejudices about mixing rock and classical
music rising to the surface. The fact that so much of the work dips
its lid to the old song which inspired it is also a little unnerving/irritating.
Nevertheless, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra are put to excellent use;
Davies still has a way with a tune and musical dynamics; and the whole
is ultimately pretty impressive. Give it a go.
Ghost of Time was then performed in the forecourt of the Sydney Opera
House before an audience of two and a half billion people on New Year's
Australian ran an article on the final day of 1999.
Here's a couple of excerpts from "Timely ghost of a great anthem" by Iain
Davies, the landmark concert and the recording of an accompanying CD
has been one of the longest and most complex projects he has undertaken,
but he says he's undaunted by the magnitude of the millennium performance.
"I'm happy at this stage," he says, "but I'll be happier at one minute
past midnight on the night, having hopefully gotten from the beginning
to the end without any major accidents. The concept of a camera
having 2.5 billion people on the end of it is less daunting than having
40 thousand in front of you. I'll say that now, anyway."
…and further on…
Southern Land" has come to be recognised as one of the few Australian
pop songs to capture the spirit of the country - and without mentioning
any of it by name. "To sit down and measure words, that's what
I found difficult when I wrote the song in 1982; to not bias the song
in any direction, to not refer to even the inhabitants. I can't
remember why I would take on such a task," he admits. "It's not
like me to dive in at the deep end to something I knew I could get horribly
The song came about after Davies and Icehouse had spent their first
tour overseas, and he was feeling particularly patriotic on his return.
It's a feeling, a sense of pride, he says, that hits him every time
he comes back to Australia.
"I have remained proud of Australia and what Australia produces ever
since that first experience. I've always come back admiring how
well Australian bands are able to perform. I've had a certain
amount of pressure over the years to move overseas and operate out of
America or England, and I've always resisted."
performance of The Ghost of Time was a fantastic event, but not
without its moments of nervous nailbiting! The weather looked to
be uncooperative during the week leading up to New Year's. Rain
poured out of the pre-Millennium skies but, on a wing and a prayer, the
clouds broke up in time for the event to go on. Many who attended
the celebrations said it was quite magical with Iva's voice ringing out
across the harbour and the fireworks lighting up the sky at midnight.
The entire show was broadcast live in Australia on Channel 9. Portions
of the performance could also be seen around the world, with the US catching
roughly five minutes of The Ghost Of Time on CNN. PBS showed
an even shorter portion during their broadcast.
asked Iva how he felt about performing on this very special night:
think it went well - the reaction's been great. A lot of people
saw it, obviously. Between that and the rebroadcasting the next
what was the highlight for you?
think with hindsight obviously, the recognition of the song.
you started to sing? That's actually the one bit we got to see
on CNN. You really lit up, you had a great smile on your face
speaking, there were lots of things that had to be ticked off the list.
There were a lot of critical things so as soon as I heard the click
track and knew that the conductor had the click track and that Richard
had the click track, there was a great sigh of relief. And that
was before the first Taiko drum hit anything. And then the first
three minutes of it were quite anxious in terms of the monitoring which
was all very strange. Once that settled down, then it was OK.
To be honest with you, I was just sort of relieved to get from one end
to the other without any disasters occurring. It was more of a
case of relief rather than excitement.
Apparently the sound was really good. I went to a lot of trouble
to make it a kind of surround sound system down there. So that
was only to the benefit of the guests, obviously. The reports
have been great all round. It achieved a huge profile. It was
a strange thing that occurred because where we came off the stage, we
ended up being in an area which didn't contain most of the guests so
in actual fact I didn't go to where the guests were at all that evening.
And we sort of ended up staying there because the next thing that happened
were that the fireworks went off. That was the best place to look at
it from. Apart from people like the Lord Mayor and people who
were involved who ended up in that area, we didn't really see anybody
much. That was my own fault. We could have easily gone wandering
but I was quite happy to stay in one spot and keep my head down at that
fireworks were pretty spectacular, weren't they?
were, yeah! So we stayed there and then ultimately ended up back
in the dressing room - believe it or not - with the Lord Mayor and a
few other notable people. So it was like a gig really, we ended
up back in the dressing room with a bottle of champagne! (much
too bad Tonia couldn't be there. She was home with the children.
but they had a great time. They got up and sat through it and
had their own little party, so that was great.
fabulous! Did you get any feedback from them?
yeah, it's made a huge impression on Evan. Daily we have to play
"Salmon Land," which is his version of "Great Southern Land".
Evan can't say "southern."
is too cute!
have the violin and the guitar…
you do it together like that?
did - that only started occurring recently, but he's been hassling for
weeks. So it's made a huge impression on him. The lantern
boats did, too. It so happens that they were going to destroy
all the lantern boats. There was a bit of an outcry and there
was a public auction. I think some of them went for five hundred
dollars - pitiful amount - but they've all been bought. One of
them was bought by the local shopping mall and has been installed as
a kind of statue in the center of the square. It's three dolphins.
He's seen that when he's been shopping so he's obviously got vivid pictures
of the lantern boats.
did Brynn think of it?
well, she loved it. There'd been the Channel Seven broadcast that
happened for Australia Day that they watched as well. But Evan's
had it emblazoned on his memory - the thing he identifies me with at
the moment is "Salmon Land."
obviously just proud of you!
besotted by instruments. He's like me in that he's not even vaguely
interested in the piano, but he just loves instruments. His idea
of a rage is to surround himself with things that he can bang and play.
My prediction is that he'll end up being a cellist, so we'll see in
The first month of the new year found Iva performing the new "Ghost"
version of "Great Southern Land" twice. The first event, held on
21st January, was an Australia Day launch at the Darling Harbour Convention
Centre. Iva brought along Paul Wheeler, Steve Bull, and the Australian
Youth Orchestra to help him out. The performance was for 1600 dignitaries
The second performance was on the 25th of January at the Hordern Pavilion,
Sydney Showground. Paul and Steve went along for this special event
as well. It was another celebration for Australia Day, with other
acts involved. This program was televised on Channel 7 in Australia.
Between the two shows, Iva had further nailbiting moments and also stirred
up the whispers of his possible involvement with the Olympics. Here's
what he had to say about these two events and those persistent rumors:
shows were great. Both of them were a bit fraught for me because
I couldn't hear because of an ear infection. So they were difficult.
On Australia Day, the closed function was great. I've just got
some photos of it with the acrobats. The artistic director is
the dancer that played in the lead role in Boxes, Kim Walker.
They did all sorts of aerial things while I was singing the song.
I think that singing a verse of the National Anthem was probably the
most horrific thing I've ever done in my life.
really did that?
really did that, and really badly! As a matter of fact, I think
I forgot the lyrics but I'm not sure. Singing the National Anthem
and forgetting the lyrics in front of the State Premier and the Lord
Mayor and a whole bunch of other notables. And because I couldn't
hear the orchestra because I was deaf, it was completely free form -
it was a very jazz version of the National Anthem. That was pretty
horrible! Apart from the fact that it's a completely unsingable
Seven thing was fine. That was also a bit odd because we were
all supposed to sing bits of Peter Allen's "I Still Call Australia Home."
That's another song that I've completely missed. I wouldn't have
a clue. So that was going to be very exciting for me as well (laughter).
Luckily we found out halfway through the telecast that it wasn't going
to air. I'm sure everybody on the stage, including me, breathed
a sigh of relief because none of us were all that keen to attempt it.
else was involved?
girl called Vanessa Amorosi who has had a couple of huge singles here
in a sort of dance/pop vein which are very good, and she's very good.
There were The Seekers, a whole bunch of country people, James Blundell,
Adam Brand, and Christine Anu who was great.
buzz is that you may be performing at the Olympics.
may have been something like that going on, but it is completely unfounded.
It's complete speculation. Certainly there for a while "Great
Southern Land" was everywhere all the time. It's my guess that
it would have been logical for a lot of people to make that suggestion,
but the Olympics have been shrouded in secrecy. Apparently, a
lot of it has already been organised, and certainly nobody's been talking
to me, so I'd say it's doubtful.
News broke that Iva was signed on to be part of the cast for the
stage show that was being put together by Sir Tim Rice. Called the
"Tim Rice Musical Spectacular," Iva was going to be performing with Kate
Ceberano, Anthony Warlow, David Essex, Bachelor Girl, and INXS.
There were press conferences held in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
Photos from the 3rd February press conference, featuring Iva, can still
be seen on the official INXS web site at inxs.com.
is the text of the Iva Davies Biography from the Tim Rice Musical Spectacular
the late Seventies, Iva Davies has carved a niche for himself in the
Australian music scene which began with the formation of the Aussie
pub band Flowers and grew with the band's reincarnation as the world-renowned
With eight Top Ten albums; 20 Top 40 Singles; sales in excess of 18
platinum albums in Australasia; and Number One hits in the USA, Britain
and Europe to his credit, Iva Davies is a musician's musician.
Either in a solo capacity or as part of Icehouse, Iva has worked with
the cream of the world's performers including David Bowie, Brian
Eno, Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, Yukihiro Takahashi, Elvis Costello,
Simple Minds, Peter Tosh, Robert Palmer, XTC and The Psychedelic Furs.
Over the years, Iva's experience with written music has produced
classic songs which deeply touch music lovers the world over. Compositions
like "Can't Help Myself," "Love In Motion," "Hey Little Girl," "Electric
Blue," and "Man Of Colours" are unforgettable.
In 1988 all the cards fell into place for Icehouse who had an incredible
year when Man of Colours had an international run of No 1 in
New Zealand, No 38 in the UK, Top 10 in Germany and Holland and a staggering
11 weeks at No 1 in Australia. The album also went platinum a record
seven times and set an as-yet-unbroken record of the Biggest Selling
Australian Group Album of All Time.
Over the years Iva has also contributed greatly to the creative psyche
of The Sydney Dance Company, where he has collaborated on two ballets,
Boxes ('85) and Berlin ('95).
Most recently Iva, who studied oboe and composition at the NSW Conservatorium,
was honored to perform on the steps of the Opera House on New Year's
Eve 1999. His re-worked 40-minute new millennium rendition of "Great
Southern Land," Icehouse's seminal song about the nature of Australia,
counted down the minutes before the beginning of the new millennium.
"I am moving into a new phase of my career as a solo artist,"
says Iva, who plans to release his first solo CD in 2000. "I'm
looking forward to collaborating with Tim Rice and his Musical Extravaganza
because I'm eager to explore new worlds of greater complexity and
innovation and I'm sure this project will offer me that."
Iva can certainly bring a wealth of experience to Tim Rice's Musical
Extravaganza with his impressive list of credits which include:
Johnny O'Keefe Award for Best New Group
Icehouse by Flowers - highest selling debut album
Countdown Award - Most Popular Male Performer
AFI nomination for best musical score for film Razorback
ARIA BEST ALBUM Man Of Colours
ARIA Highest Selling album Man Of Colours
Variety Club Band Of The Year
APRA Most performed song "Electric Blue"
Bicentennial Royal Command Performance for Princess Diana and Prince
Mo Awards: Rock Group of the Year
Big Wheel - first Australian interactive floppy disk release
Davies creates his own in-house production company - DIVA Records
Iva and Icehouse play the ballet at The Sydney Dance Company
Iva spends time in Japan, Germany, and the UK writing material for his
the earlier stages of the production it looked as if Iva was slated to
play the part of Judas for the portion of the show featuring music from
Jesus Christ Superstar. The assignment of songs was still
very much up in the air, with rehearsals not beginning until April.
However, the head cold that Iva was battling was to change things further
down the line.
Iva traveled to Fiji for the first time in a long time. His
father-in-law joined him on this trip to help out with repairs that would
be needed. However, the Fijian weather decided to be a nuisance
and it rained for most of the trip. Iva returned home at the end
of March with his thoughts on the impending rehearsals for the Tim Rice
show. But, the day after his arrival home, his head cold returned with
a vengeance. Here's Iva's account of this period of time:
was just bad timing. I had already been to the doctor. This
is a specialist. He had already told me the only long term solution
was to have this procedure. At that point, it was approaching
the rehearsal period. The doctor determined he'd keep me on antibiotics
through the whole Tim Rice season. Then, at the end of the season,
I'd go see him again and we'd organize when to do it. I was fine
in Fiji. I literally got back here on the eve of the beginning
of the rehearsals and within a day, I could hardly speak. The
rehearsal period was fairly tight. It was only a couple of weeks
and they had an awful lot of ground to cover. Nobody had heard any of
INXS' backing tracks and even the playlist was still not final.
So it was going to be fairly intense work. I was highly infectious
at that point. I'm sure the other singers would have run miles
if I had to go in the same room with them! The whole lot could
have ended up sick. It was basically a really heavy head cold.
It sort of makes it worse for me because I've got this problem where
my head doesn't clear very well. Graeme Murphy contacted me and
he was absolutely flabbergasted as to how bad I sounded on the phone.
There was an interview with Iva printed in On Show Weekly,
April 6-12. Here is an excerpt of Iva's comments about people that
he has worked with:
of the outstanding tours was the David Bowie tour. The preliminary
to it was a great memory.
"At the time both Icehouse and Bowie were in Germany playing at a big
outdoor venue and we were in the middle of our set, in front of over
20,000 German people when one of the guys in the band came up to me
and said don't look now but David is watching us.
"I glanced over, and the David in question was David Bowie, who was
on the side off the stage singing along."
And asked what he thinks of today's manufactured bands where often there
is not a musician or a song writer amongst the group. "I wouldn't
dream of invalidating it really and it is not a new phenomenon.
Music covers a spectrum from disposable entertainment to serious art.
What is interesting is the constructed bands are so up front about it,
which is great and probably symptomatic of society we live in… they
are literally saying here it is - we are making it, so it might be worth
something to you. Good on them for achieving success."
spent the month of April trying his best to get well. Unfortunately,
on the 10th of April, he was forced to inform Spellbound that he had to
pull out of the Tim Rice show. An official press release went out
and was printed in some of the major newspapers. Iva was very disappointed
to have to remove himself from the cast but his health had to come first.
He expressed his concern for his fans, knowing some had already purchased
tickets. However, there was little he could do regarding those tickets
since this was not an Icehouse show. By the end of April, his head
cold had cleared enough so that he could give Graeme Murphy the answer
he wanted to hear concerning a very special evening for the Sydney Dance
The Sydney Dance Company held a Gala Performance on 6th
May at the Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. It was a special,
one-off night that allowed the Dance Company to take a look back at their
past productions. Graeme Murphy had asked Iva to be involved but
first his commitment to the Tim Rice show and then his health prevented
him from saying "yes" straight away. When April ended, Iva found
he was able to sing well enough that he could tell Graeme he could perform
for this special night only.
tells us how this performance came about and how it was really a family
was on the night of coming home from the Australia Day television show.
Graeme Murphy rang me and told me what this was about. At that
time, we were into negotiations with the Tim Rice show. I said
to him, "I really don't think I'll be available because it's right in
the middle of this Tim Rice season." So that was shelved.
Then, obviously, I was locked into the Tim Rice show and while I was
in Fiji, Graeme called. He asked me again and I had the schedule for
Tim Rice. I thought there was a possibility of a night off.
I left it until I got back to Sydney and then got sick again, which
blew the rehearsal period of Tim Rice. That fell through.
It was only at the last minute that I contacted them and said, "I can
do one night." So then I rather hurriedly had to prepare the wherewithal
to do the live performance. It required going back to the original
score and making a backing tape without the vocals. I did "Complicated
Game" and "Really Good Time." Max wasn't available to play that
night. Max was there and he was playing but he was flat out with
lots of other stuff so I didn't even ask him. I jokingly mentioned,
"Do you think you'll be playing 'Complicated Game?'" which is actually
quite a difficult piano part. That was an amazing night because
the show, on that night, was a one off. The season is a different
set of things. In the season, they are performing "Complicated
Game" and another piece which is called "Circus." We called the
piece "Music Trapeze," but it's a piece out of the score proper.
The actual gala night included lots of things that were only for that
night. Mainly live performances. So there were people like
Mark Williams, who is a great singer from here. He was a huge
star in New Zealand and he had a huge hit in Australia in the mid-'80s.
It was a great song, actually. He had been involved in another
ballet, as a singer, that the Dance Company had done. There was
a live orchestra, which was the Sydney Youth Orchestra. There
were three other female singers. The Dance Company had invited
every past member, so there would have been about 50 or 60 dancers including
Tonia. At the end of the evening, they came up and took a bow.
did Tonia feel about that?
was very excited, I think. The party was completely outrageous,
of course, because you had all these people who hadn't seen each other
for years. A late night was had by all!
they going to do anything from Boxes?
although Boxes figures quite highly in the list of past works.
We've only ever discussed once the subject of putting it on again, subsequent
to the original season, which was only a three week season. It
hasn't been discussed since. I think part of the reason for that
was it was a vast production. It had a huge set which was designed
specifically for the Opera House's Opera Theatre stage. It was
designed to use the revolve which is in that stage. It was a huge
structure which weighed 20 tons. At a certain point in the ballet,
the whole thing started to rotate. I don't think Graeme's ever
considered doing it again partly because, unless you did that whole
thing again, it wouldn't be the same. Both Janet Vernon and Graeme
have expressed to me their fondness for the idea of doing Berlin
again. But it's nothing more than that. I'd say there's
a possibility that that may come up again.
this be in Australia or…?
I don't know. There was a German promoter who was very keen to
put it on. It's a fairly expensive thing to put on, as well.
A lot of the other ballets are far more portable. They have minimal
sets and minimal costumes. Berlin had a fairly hefty structure
attached to it. There were various amendments to the set that we had
to do in order to fit it into some of the stages. So, whether
they're talking about overseas or within Australia, I don't really know.
event garnered a mention in Christie Eliezer's column within In Music
and Media (an Australasian weekly online music industry magazine):
the sinus problems that caused him to pull out of the Tim Rice spectacular,
Iva Davies steeled himself to collaborate with performance choreographer
Graeme Murphy on a retrospective of the latter's works. It was held
at the Sydney Opera House on the weekend. It was something of
a homecoming for Davies: the classically trained oboist was in the orchestra
when the Opera House opened in 1973.
Sydney Dance Company's
season of Body of Work - a Retrospective is as follows:
May 6th - A Gala Performance - Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House
May 8th - Preview Body of Work-A Retrospective, Opera Theatre,
Sydney Opera House
May 9-27 - Season Body of Work-A Retrospective, Opera Theatre,
Sydney Opera House
June 6-10 - Body of Work-A Retrospective, Playhouse Theatre,
Adelaide Festival Centre
June 13-14 - Body of Work- A Retrospective Princess Theatre,
June 16-17 - Body of Work-A Retrospective Theatre Royal, Hobart
June 20-24 - Body of Work A Retrospective Playhouse, Victorian
September 20-23 - Body of Work-A Retrospective Playhouse, The
Canberra Theatre Centre
aren't any current plans to take Body of Work overseas.
Iva is now preparing to go into the hospital for a few days so that he
may undergo a procedure that should help his sinuses stay healthy. It
will also help prevent the very nasty head colds he is prone to. He said
the procedure is "fairly horrific," with the specialist informing him
they might have to remove bits of bone. When asked why they would
have to remove bone, Iva's one word answer caused the shivers: "Access."
His recovery should take about three weeks, with the specialist giving
the cheery news of "expect to bleed for two weeks." All of us here
at Spellbound wish Iva a speedy and painless recovery!! (Lots of chocolate
The New Album
Iva has been working quite hard on the new album for the
past few years. There has been a debate amongst various people as
to whether the album should be an "Icehouse" album, or have the name "Iva
Davies" stand alone on the cover. Iva has also been watching and
listening to the music industry. From its recent chart toppers to
its concerns over MP3s to the latest in music technology. He has
reached a decision that came by a lot of thought and feeling on his part.
At this time, the album has been put on hold. He does not feel that
the climate of the music industry is right for this album to be released
into and he does not want to waste it. It will see the light of
day and will not be shelved forever. When the time is right, Iva
will put this album out - an album of which he is quite proud.
In the meantime, he will spend some time recovering from his surgery and
having some holiday time with his family. There are a few projects
that have captured his interest but the details concerning them will,
for now, have to wait.