Updated 29 June 2000

December 1999

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.

Rolling 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.

The 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 Eve!

The 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 Shedden:

For 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…

"Great 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 wrong."
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."

The 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.

Spellbound asked Iva how he felt about performing on this very special night:

I think it went well - the reaction's been great.  A lot of people saw it, obviously.  Between that and the rebroadcasting the next day.

So what was the highlight for you?

I think with hindsight obviously, the recognition of the song.

When 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 then.

Technologically 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 point. 

The fireworks were pretty spectacular, weren't they?

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 mirth) 

It's too bad Tonia couldn't be there.  She was home with the children.

Yeah, but they had a great time.  They got up and sat through it and had their own little party, so that was great.

That's fabulous!  Did you get any feedback from them?

Well, 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." 

That is too cute!

We have the violin and the guitar…

And you do it together like that?

We 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.

What did Brynn think of it?

Ah, 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."

He's obviously just proud of you!

He's 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 time.

January 2000

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 and sponsors.
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: 

The 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.

You really did that?

I 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 song anyway.
The Channel 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. 

Who else was involved?

A 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.

The buzz is that you may be performing at the Olympics.

There 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. 

February 2000

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.

Here is the text of the Iva Davies Biography from the Tim Rice Musical Spectacular website:

From 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 Icehouse.

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:

Countdown 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 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 Charles
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 forthcoming album

At 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.

March 2000

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:

That 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.

April 2000

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:

"One 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."

Iva 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 Company.

May 2000

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.

Iva tells us how this performance came about and how it was really a family affair!

It 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.

How did Tonia feel about that?

She 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!

Are they going to do anything from Boxes?

No, 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.

Would this be in Australia or…?

Well, 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.

This event garnered a mention in Christie Eliezer's column within In Music and Media (an Australasian weekly online music industry magazine):

Despite 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.

The 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, Launceston
June 16-17 - Body of Work-A Retrospective Theatre Royal, Hobart
June 20-24 - Body of Work A Retrospective Playhouse, Victorian Arts Centre
September 20-23 - Body of Work-A Retrospective Playhouse, The Canberra Theatre Centre

There 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 needed…)

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.


Site Links


© 1997-2008 DIVA Records Pty Ltd