Published on theMusic.com.au, Oct 2017
Midnight Oil, Spiderbait
“How fucking awesome is this shit?” yelled Spiderbait drummer/vocalist and all-round legend Kram to an arena nearing capacity.
Quirky undertones were delivered via the catchy Ol’ Man Sam which also showcased just how tight the three piece are as they broke out into massive bridges between calculated verses. Although admitting they were “nervous” to be supporting their musical idols, their relentless stage presence would have convinced anyone it was a headline gig.
With the band feeling sentimental, it was fitting that ‘80s throwback 99 Red Balloon made the setlist, bassist/vocalist Janet English’s voice on-point as she nailed the song in German. And if that wasn’t enough, English took over drum duties for set highlight Buy Me A Pony before they bid farewell in a whirlwind of overdriven guitar and booming drums for the classic Black Betty.
Messages of tolerance, protest and political poetry were broadcast via bright, blood red screens that paved a theatrical entrance for a band many in the audience thought they’d never witness in the flesh.
An upbeat, punk-fuelled onslaught kicked off proceedings with Redneck Wonderland and frontman Peter Garrett wasted no time in delivering his signature twitches between eerie and powerful vocals. If you were to tranquilize someone and then give them a shot of adrenaline, those are the sorts of movements you’d see.
Midnight Oil weren’t playing around and made clear within minutes that their flame burns as brightly as ever.
Keeping the Aussie rock flare in fine form, a cowbell drove the beat of Read About It, with uplifting backing vocals from bassist Bones Hillman and guitarist James Moginie.
Hearing song like Truganini and Sell My Soul live framed them in a new light, one that made them more powerful by allowing their brilliant intricacies to shine through, while others such as Hercules were taken to another level with an infectious, danceable energy. At the core of those mesmerising dynamics was drumming powerhouse Rob Hirst who didn’t miss a beat all night.
Garrett urged Acting Prime Minster Julie Bishop to sign the nuclear treaty, which was one of many (expected) political statements, and his political banter was delivered in a more easy-going, comical way as opposed to preachy, but anyone going to an Oils gig and not expecting politics is at the wrong show.
Short Memory pulled things back with keys and an acoustic bass, and the band in a line at the front of the stage; the format lasted for a handful of songs including Ships Of Freedom, which delivered a set highlight with a rousing trumpet solo from Jack Howard.
An upbeat tone was reignited with US Forces and the entire arena was bouncing and screaming the chorus back at Garrett and co, but things quickly came to an abrupt halt in Only The Strong when the frontman stopped the song to eject two unruly punters from the mosh.
When things got back into motion, nothing could stop them as they dished out mega hits The Dead Heart, Beds Are Burning and Forgotten Years, all of which proved why Australia’s love for the band hasn’t faulted after all these years.