Located on the waterfront in Sydney’s historic district, The Rocks, Wildfire restaurant is normally associated with providing exquisite contemporary Australian cuisine, famous Brazilian inspired Rodizo Churrasco and the finest seafood in the region. However, on Wednesday 13 November, this stunning, architecturally designed restaurant was the remarkable setting for the fourth in a series of six Australian concerts for the hugely talented and popular Tomislav Bralić and Klapa Intrade.
As guests arrived fashionably late, in typical Croatian style, they were met with an impressive stage built over the existing booths in the centre of the resatuarant, effectively halving the seating capacity of the restaurant. With many missing out, the 200 guests lucky enought to secure a ticket were treated to a magnificent, intimate concert showcasing the vocal talents of arguably Croatia’s finest and most popular entertainers.
Wildfire’s Managing Director, Tonči Farac, himself a native of Split, was on hand to ensure that the exquisite 4-course alternate service menu he had chosen was served without a glitch. Adding Croatian flavour to the evening, guests were served with traditional Croatian pršut from Ivan’s Butchers as an appetiser, followed by salmon balontine and crisp pork belly for entree, herb crusted lamb loin and thyme roasted chicken breast for mains followed by cherry ripe and vanill panna cotta for dessert. The excellent food was beautifully complemented with copious amounts of Karlovačko pivo, and fine white wines from Marlborough and the Hunter Valley, with two excellent reds the Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills.
In between courses, Klapa Intrade wowed the audience with their incredible repertoire of songs, covering every region of Croatia that had everybody clapping and singing along. Having seen Klapa Intrade perform only three nights earlier in Canberra, I was thoroughly impressed that more than half of the songs on the night were not on the set list in Canberra. This probably had a lot do with the large number of audience requests which were accommodated, as the enigmatic Bralić involved the audience at every opportunity. Incredibly, once mains had been served, the show kicked into another, higher gear, with the upbeat tempo prompting people to stand and groove along, many standing on their chairs whilst a few brave women even got up to dance on the bar, in Coyote Ugly style.
Just before midnight, an hour after the scheduled 2-hour show was due to conclude, Tomislav Bralić called up tour organiser Jozo Brkić, who thrilled those present with the announcement that Klapa Intrade will be back in Australia in November 2014 performing at the Sydney Opera House, as well as the host for the evening, Tonči Farac, who also proved he was no slouch on the vocals, joining Klapa Intrade to belt out their current mega-hit ‘Zora Bila’, along with the tour promotions team, Geelong’s Allana Šarić and Katarina Klarica.
As I got back in the car for the 3 hour drive home to Canberra, it was the lyrics of ‘Zora Bila’ that just would not get out of my head. Luckily I will be in Zagreb in December for the much-anticipated annual gala concert in the not so intimate setting of the Dom Športova. ‘Nije meni nikad dosta…’.