Review: Archie Roach Dancing with my Spirit feat. Tiddas

Raphael Solarsh

Living Treasures of Australian Music tell their stories with heart and sing their songs with soul.
Review: Archie Roach Dancing with my Spirit feat. Tiddas

Archie Roach and Tiddas performing in Dancing with My Spirit photo by David Harris.

Archie Roach will be a household name for many but the three powerhouses of Tiddas, less so. As Archie tells, the songs of Dancing with my Spirit were originally sung with the trio and finally all four return to sing the songs as they intended, their bodies a little older but their songs and voices more magical and moving than ever.

There was a noticeable feeling of family in the room. Musicians who knew each other well, accomplished artists all, who have little cause for anxiety. There was chat and back chat as you might expect around the dinner table and songs you would hope for around the fire, but never a moment that felt anything other than beautifully natural.

But before, Archie and Tiddas, there was the Mission Songs project, a fascinating journey through the Indigenous songs sung in the missions around early Australia. With their unique gospel and country influences, the songs tell stories of dispossession and tragedy as well as hope thanks to the sublime voices of Jessie Lloyd, Emma Donovan, Deline Briscoe and Jessica Hitchcock.

Archie Roach and Tiddas performing in Dancing with My Spirit photo by David Harris.

In another show in another time and place, one might have thought that the opening act was attempting to upstage the headliners but on this stage on this day, there was no such risk. Not just because of how utterly wonderful Archie and Tiddas were, but in the atmosphere that they exuded. They created an environment of sharing, one where every beautiful contribution was valued and able to add to the one before.

Dancing with my Spirit told an Australian story that has rarely been more needed and did it in a manner that renews one’s faith in harmony and progress at a time when division and trench warfare have become the norms of public discourse.

Tiddas in particularly possess a stage presence that borders on the magical. Amy Saunders wafts the spirit of the sixties, Lou Bennet sass and panache and Sally Dastey a powerful joy. Archie Roach still has the charm to spin a marvellous yarn and a heart that has possibly never left his sleeve.

What more can really be said about this incredible performance and these timeless songs other than pull up a chair and enjoy.

Rating: ★★★★★

Archie Roach

Dancing With My Spirit ft. Tiddas

Hamer Hall

6 May 2018    

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Raphael Solarsh is writer from Melbourne whose work has appeared in The Guardian, on Writer’s Bloc and in a collection of short stories entitled Outliers: Stories of Searching. When not seeing shows, he writes fiction and blogs at and tweets @RS_IndiLit.