Midnight Oil burns at Sidney Myer
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Midnight Oil burns at Sidney Myer




“Hey friends! Good. To. See. You. Again.” Peter Garrett opens tonight’s show with a smile. It’s not an expression we’re used to seeing on his distinctive visage, but throughout this triumphant return to Melbourne, he never looks less than overjoyed. As the opening salvo of 'Read About It', 'Don’t Wanna Be The One', and 'Truganini' echo around the arena, thousands of voices in chorus, it’s hard to think of another band that deliver commitment and joy on this scale. Tonight, hit follows anthem follows Oz rock classic.

Midnight Oil burns at Sidney Myer

Midnight Oil begins with a brace of early songs, 'Hercules', 'No Time For Games' and 'Section 5 (Bus To Bondi)' (“here’s a song that will sort out the newcomers from the true believers,” laughs Garrett as an introduction), the crowd are instantly onside. Rows of middle-aged men hold cans, stand in front of seats they never use and never stop smiling. On stage, dry ice billows in massive clouds, and a forest of lights loom behind the band, the members arrayed across the stage like states. Jim Moginie switching between synthesizers and guitar takes up a West Australian-proportion of the stage. Rob Hirst with his iconic water tank and expansive drum kit its northern heart, bassist Bones Hillman and guitarist Martin Rotsey fill the east of the stage while Garrett ranges its length and breadth, terrified of stasis.

Midnight Oil burns at Sidney Myer

One hour in and the pace slows. The band gather by the front of the stage, acoustic guitars replace electric, and Hirst substitutes his drum kit for a stripped down version. 'My Country' sees the crowd at full voice, before Hirst leads the band through 'When The Generals Talk'. 'Short Memory' follows and Garrett seems shocked that the audience are happy to take over the vocal duties. He tries to conduct us, but there’s no slowing down the train now, we know exactly where we’re going. Rotsey’s expertly deployed rockabilly guitar runs bring texture to songs that are far more than the Oz rock singalongs they’re often considered and Hillman’s bass is tough, taut and never more vital than when bringing to life the songs from 'Diesel and Dust'. Their 1987 release proves the album most mined for tonight’s setlist, impressively different to the show they played the previous night at Hanging Rock. Garrett uses the rare gaps between songs to dedicate 'Blue Sky Mining' to activists campaigning against the Adani coal mine, Dreamworld to those fighting corruption in Brazil, and Melbourne’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning anti-nuclear group ICAN have 'Hercules' played in their name.

Midnight Oil burns at Sidney Myer

As the pace again picks up, sweats are broken but there is no letup in intensity. The introduction of 'Beds Are Burning' takes a dark and meandering turn before it explodes into its iconic opening blast, a motif that gets serious oomph from the horn section of Hunters and Collectors, who join as the show moves toward its fiery conclusion. Encores of 'Forgotten Years', 'The Power And The Passion', 'King Of The Mountain' and a blistering 'Best Of Both Worlds', which sees Garrett unleash a smoking flare, filling the stadium with the stench of fireworks.

There may still be too many of us preferring to live on our knees instead of dying on our feet, but for tonight at least we could remember what it was that inspired that change in Peter Garrett, and feel that potent mix of nostalgia and the kind of bracing visionary rock that could once unite a country.

Midnight Oil burns at Sidney Myer

Midnight Oil setlist:
01 Read About It
02 Don't Wanna Be The One
03 Truganini
04 Hercules
05 Section 5 (Bus To Bondi)
06 Dreamworld
07 Safety Chain Blues
08 No Time For Games
09 My Country
10 When The Generals Talk
11 Short Memory
12 US Forces
13 Kosciusko
14 Now Or Never Land
15 Warakurna
16 The Dead Heart
17 Blue Sky Mine
18 Beds Are Burning
19 Forgotten Years
Encore:
20 Power And The Passion
21 King Of The Mountain
Second Encore:
22 Best Of Both Worlds

Midnight Oil burns at Sidney Myer

Carbie Warbie's comprehensive Midnight Oil photo gallery is being hosted on our sister music website, GigBill.

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Midnight Oil burns at Sidney Myer
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