A guest post by Alice Springs-based lawyer and all round music fan Glen Dooley
Before I ducked over to the ANZAC Oval to catch Apakatjah, the local opening act, I drained a few pots at the Todd Tavern. Oils fans commandeered the video jukebox and the song selection set the tone for the night. Guns & Roses, REM, Def Leppard, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Pink Floyd and AC/DC flowed as I drank.
This was a classic rock audience in search of a classic rock show. And by night’s end, the Oils had delivered.
Apakatjah, a duo of Dion Forrester and Jonathon Lindsay, convincingly belted out bold modern folk to a twilight audience. Warmly received, these men did themselves proud.
Next up was Dan Sultan. Fresh from touring his exciting “Killer” album, Dan was in solo mode with guitar or behind a keyboard. The man shone. Humble in speech, supreme in song, Dan captivated the audience with his growing star power. Reflecting on the inspiration he derived from seeing the Warumpis and the Oils as a toddler in Yuendumu, Dan rolled out a red dirt carpet for the headliners.
Midnight Oil were preceded on stage by Benedict Stevens and fellow Arrernte men for a stirring welcome to country. And many needed a welcome as the crowd, by now 4000 strong, contained a sizeable swag of interstaters drawn to an Alice adventure by the Oils.
Redneck Wonderland and a blazing light show pierced the night as the opening song. Followed immediately by the controversial Bullroarer, the Oils galvanised the mob and kept them joyously engaged for nigh on two hours. Now or Never Land, Back on the Borderline and the mighty Maralinga led to the sole surprise—song wise—of the night when the band covered (shakily) the Warumpi Band’s From the Bush.
In short, the Oils were in classic rock mode. No new songs, rarely testing the boundaries of tried and true winners, the audience wasn’t really challenged. Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey enjoyed the brilliant clarity of the sound and delivered most of the thrills. Moginie’s work outs in No Time for Games, Kosciusko and Power and the Passion were astounding and demand that he be given more room to roam.
Some prior shows on The Great Circle Tour have seen the band play an album in its near entirety in a single block of songs. I think this is what this show needed—half an hour of focus where some obscurities surface and a break be had from a greatest hits format.
History tells us that 10, 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 spent years on the Australian album charts (only topped by Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon for chart longevity). Diesel and Dust and Blue Sky Mining were defining albums of the late 80s/early 90’s.
The run home of songs like Bed’s are Burning, Blue Sky Mine, I Don’t Wanna Be the One, Forgotten Years, Power and the Passion, Put Down that Weapon and Dreamworld had the mainly 45 to 55 year old punters bouncing.
Given some of these numbers are nudging 35 years old, I was taken by the thought that Midnight Oil deliver a creditable rock show well above what their contemporaries (bar say Hunters and Collectors – represented by Jack Howard in this Oils line-up – and Cold Chisel) could possibly muster.
A show that promises much for what looms as the home grown tour of the spring.