My Heart Swims in Blood was a local offering from this year’s Dark Mofo, except for Lotte Betts-Dean, a young mezzo-soprano in high demand, who here joined the Van Diemen’s Band. If you’ve not experienced a recent Tasmanian winter, this concert may strike you as particularly gloomy – but it was expertly designed to match the red-and-black, sex-and-death ethos of this monster of an arts festival.

Lotte Betts-Dean. Photograph © Benjamin Ealovega

This event took place in the Hobart Town Hall. Under the white-lit chandeliers, it felt like a comparatively gentle festival offering. Indeed, the vibrant red glow from the nearby Old Mercury Building threatened to penetrate the hall through drawn venetian blinds. With quite an ordinary stage set-up, there was little attempt to match the “paint the town red” aesthetic of the Dark Mofo-fuelled surrounds. Despite the many thousands of arts tourists visiting the island, this full-house audience also seemed overwhelmingly local. Nevertheless, to me, this provided evidence of the concertgoers’ loyalty to the musicians of Van Diemen’s Band (who also play in the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra); they’ll follow the music, regardless of the occasion, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Before the music,...