LIVE REVIEW: Midnight Oil @ Sidney Myer Music Bowl

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Midnight Oil performed live at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne on Wednesday November 15 2017.
Ticket to concert provided for review purposes.
Words by Stefan Bradley.


How do a bunch of old rockers, who hadn’t toured in 15 years or recorded new music, and aged in their late 50s to mid 60s, play a show like this?

They’ve met all the high standards and expectations, and blown them to smithereens.

Midnight Oil are one of my favourite bands, but with all the above factors, fans had a reason to be skeptical. I’ve seen middle aged rockers perform dreadfully. Motley Crue’s Vince Neil would be the worst offender, missing words in his own songs because he just can’t perform as well anymore.

Legendary Oils frontman Peter Garrett, who spent the band’s off period as a politician, probably was the one most out of practice, but he never missed a beat. He was incredibly focused the entire time. He held long notes, screamed, jumped around and showed Australia that he hasn’t lost touch with his famous idiosyncratic dance moves. The idea that anyone could keep up with some of these songs at age 64 is astonishing. It says to me that being middle aged is no excuse for a bad performance.

Midnight Oil have an astonishing back catalogue of dynamic and quality tunes, and have awarded long-awaiting fans with sets that change from show to show. This third show in Melbourne at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl was added late to due to demand.

Opening with the scorching ‘Redneck Wonderland’, the band set a standard that would persist for the rest of the show. Martin Rotsey and Jim Mogine are still formidable on their guitars. Mogine spent the entire show sitting down after his injury at the last Melbourne show, but his riffs and leads were still tight.

Peter Garrett took some time to address the news that the Yes vote had prevailed in the Australian marriage survey with cheers from the crowd, and to celebrate, performed the rifftastic ‘Lucky Country’.

Casual Oils fans may not be familiar with deep cuts like ‘Koala Sprint’, ‘Mountains of Burma’ and ‘Earth and Sun and Moon’, but for the rest of the night it was hit after hit!

It’s hard for me to pick my favourite song from the night; the energy of ‘King of the Mountain’, the prog rock of ‘No Time for Games’, the new political message on ‘Blue Sky Mine’ to stop Adani, the marriage of guitar with Bones Hillman’s bass riffs on ‘Truganini’.

_EMBARGO 9.45am Syd AU 17 02 17_1 meg MIDNIGHT OIL Road _Credit Oliver E...

There was an amazing singalong on the slow but powerful ‘Short Memory’, with the lyrics referring to man-made atrocities, which makes you think how those lyrics would be written in 2017. The best crowd singalong was by far during ‘US Forces’. Almost every line the crowd sang louder than Garrett, who was more than happy to have the audience lend a hand.

‘Only the Strong’ was the perfect example of the band’s rock prowess, and was easily Garrett’s best performance of the night.

Drummer Rob Hirst showed why he’s so important to the group. Both hands hit the drums with a powerful thud, and he has terrific vocal chops too! He sang lead vocals on ‘Kosciusko’ and ‘When The Generals Talk’, two of my favourites, and he was quite the crowd pleaser!

‘Beds are Burning’, ‘Blue Sky Mining’ and the ‘The Dead Heart’, or what I like to call the ‘Triple Threat’, are three of the band’s biggest songs that they’ve been playing almost every night, because it wouldn’t be a Midnight Oil show without them!

Ending with the song that sums up the band in just a few words, ‘The Power and the Passion’, with Hirst’s famous drum solo.

Of course with some a large volume of fantastic work, not every fan will hear their favourite song. I was missing ‘Read About It’, ‘Warakurna’, ‘Run by Night’, ‘Put Down That Weapon’ and ‘Sometimes’, to name a few.

Garrett casually noted during the show that he doesn’t know when the band will be back in Melbourne, and the final show of the tour in Sydney is coming up. If the band performs in the future they are a must see, not just for fans of the band but for anyone who considers themselves a rock fan. The band has done nothing but prove they’ve been missed, and convinced a new generation of younger fans that they still deserve attention.