Published on theMusic.com.au, Apr 2018
Perth Concert Hall
When you think of Australia’s prodigal son of rock’n’roll, Jimmy Barnes, the first thing that comes to mind is his unique and powerful voice, so it’s not surprising he chose to highlight it in the opening of his Working Class Man tour.
“It’s not pretty, but it’s effective,” began Barnes, following a behind-the-scenes look at his warm-up routine; an introduction that spoke volumes to what was on offer during his new show and the book of the same name he was promoting.
As its title suggests, the sequel to the acclaimed Working Class Boy memoir focuses on Cold Chisel, his solo career and family life.
“I flirted with death every night of the week,” Barnes said, taking fans back several decades to early 1974, shortly after he joined Cold Chisel and exactly were his debut book wrapped.
Themes of domestic abuse, violence and alcoholism were immediately apparent, as he dove into the dark corners of his personal life, each powerful anecdote elevated by a song, some unexpected, like a covers The Turtles’ Happy Together and a reggae remix of Wild Thing by The Troggs.
He spoke of the band’s slow rise into the spotlight, which included spray-painting their name around Adelaide because they couldn’t afford posters.
The music videos for Khe Sanh and Choir Girl were played, to which he gave live commentary, letting fans in on hilarious and interesting behind-the-scenes trivia, and he also touched on his friendship with Michael Hutchence and how important Australian legend Michael Gudinski was to the success of his solo career.
Overall, the Working Class Man tour had a different energy and pace to it, and smoother dynamics than his previous effort, giving great insight into not only the man and musician (who spent most of his career in a self-destructive spiral) but also the industry itself, with powerful messages about mental health and addiction scattered throughout.