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A new album out now brings to mind a fine, mild day in Sydney 2014 when a controversy-magnet pop star played by the harbour for a rubbish breakfast TV show. The auguries were positive, the cracked spine (of the collected works of William Shakespeare) enticing, the memory of Kenneth Branagh and Laurence Olivier and John Bell resounding.

Picture by Ross Schultz

Come forth Miley Cyrus for the hour is upon us.


Past the poster of Henry V walked Miley Cyrus in a shimmering green boxer’s robe, primed for the fight and accompanied by the breakfast show’s weather person (In leopard print leggings. At breakfast. On television – and people say Miley dresses shockingly), and thence to the stage set up on the northern forecourt of the Opera House.

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers and sisters who had risen pre-dawn to see the twerking, tongue-twisting, tabloid-taunting Cyrus, waited with the rising sun on our backs.

Among us were several dressed like her: more men than women so attired it must be said, and not an eyelash out of place on any of the gentlemen. (No doubt inspiring yon Miley to think, as she peered through a forest of phones held high, “It yearns me not if men my garments wear/Such outward things dwell not in my desires.)

Scattered through were high school uniforms, a few pre-teens and no shortage of mothers. Real mothers too; not the type of “motherfuckers” which some reports had Cyrus dropping more than 30 times during her Melbourne concert at the weekend.

If those mothers were bracing themselves for similar language and performance - the type of legs splayed, crotch-rubbing, drug-referencing on-stage activities which earned terms such as gynaecological and scatological – they needn’t have worried.

Save for a "good fucking morning to you guys” and a bit of hip thrusting later, when the green robe was shucked and the orange and pink leotard was allowed its moment in the sun, Cyrus was by most standards respectable, even tame.

Her singing was not merely respectable though: a powerful and more than capable voice ringing true and genuinely live. Likewise, her responses to the familiar questions lobbed at her by the two slightly awkward (as ever when a teen pop star is patronised/promoted in equal measure) Sunrise hosts were considered, and a step above pat answers.

With the Harbour Bridge as a backdrop, a Madame Tussauds model of Cyrus – which for a change actually looked something like the original – set up at the back of the crowd and the bonus of a song after the cameras switched off (Coldplay’s The Scientist), you could hardly complain.

Unless of course you wanted more sinner than saint on stage.

Still, in the telling and retelling in years to come no doubt the gentlemen and women in Australia still a-bed would think themselves accursed they were not here while ever any speaks who stood by the water with us on St Miley’s day.

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