Australian bands have produced some of the most memorable tunes of all time; from rock to punk, from pop to grunge, these bands will forever be a part of Australia’s rich cultural tapestry for their incredible chart-topping hits and award-winning albums.
When you think about the most iconic musical acts to have ever emerged from Down Under, a few names spring to mind – AC/DC, Crowded House, INXS, Midnight Oil, Silverchair, and of course, Cold Chisel.
Australia’s crème de la crème of classic pub rock, Cold Chisel are one of this country’s most revered rock outfits, with a history that spans forty years and a catalogue of songs and albums that have become part of the nation’s psyche.
Most readers would agree that there’s nothing more Australian than hot sun, warm waves, sausages sizzling on the barbecue, and a playlist fuelled with the band’s classic songs like ‘Khe Sanh’, ‘Flame Trees’, ‘Bow River’, ‘My Baby’, ‘Cheap Wine’, ‘Saturday Night’ and ‘You Got Nothing I Want’. With “The last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone” becoming an iconic lyric tattooed on the brains of a generation of Aussie rock fans, these are the songs tracks that have become the soundtrack to our summer, year after year.
It comes as a tremendous (and welcomed) surprise then that for the first time ever, this iconic Australian band will be playing 14 very special outdoor shows in Australia and New Zealand during summer, including an unforgettable a day on the green at Mt Duneed Estate, Geelong on Saturday, January 11.
In a massive coup for the regional music scene, the Blood Moon Tour 2020 – named after a rare lunar eclipse where the sun, earth, and moon all briefly align before returning to their own orbits – will boast a series of line-ups and locations that are just as rare and memorable. Cold Chisel’s Geelong performance will be particularly special, with supports from music legend Paul Kelly, Perth rockers Birds of Tokyo and Geelong alternative rock band Magic Dirt, making the promise of a concert to remember!
Geelong’s had some good luck with music acts at Mt Duneed so far, hosting some of the biggest names in music including Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Sting, Paul Simon, Don Henley, Robbie Williams and recently welcoming Florence + The Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers, with Sir Elton John set to perform later this year.
Since forming in Adelaide in 1973 and blasting onto the national scene in the late ’70s, Cold Chisel has created a uniquely Australian fusion of rockabilly, roughhouse soul, and blues, selling almost seven million records to date. Between 1978 and 1983 the original line-up of Don Walker, Jimmy Barnes, Ian Moss (guitar/vocals), Phil Small (bass) and Steve Prestwich (drums) recorded five studio albums that became Australian classics.
1978’s self-titled debut and 1979’s Breakfast At Sweethearts initially received little support from mainstream media but eventually went gold based on nonstop touring. 1980’s East was their huge commercial breakthrough and 1982’s Circus Animals saw them top the charts, but by the time Twentieth Century was released in 1984, the band had already flamed out.
Since their legendary Last Stand in arenas around the country a year earlier 1983, Cold Chisel has re-formed for just four national tours, with their last a day on the green show back in 2011 (excluding recent solo performances from Jimmy and Ian), signifying just how rare this Blood Moon tour is for one of the most iconic homegrown rock bands of all time, and proving a day on the green’s consistency in securing the world’s very best.
“We like to leave a long time between drinks so that we’ve had time to come up with something new and exciting for us & the fans,” shares bassist Phil Small. “Once we had a parcel of new songs under our belt then the prospect of an all outdoors tour came together as something new. We’ve never done a succession of our own outdoor shows before especially over summer.
“I love playing outdoors,” Small continues. “Everyone is much looser and more relaxed. All our shows will be outdoors where we have a great production team behind us. There should be no problem with bad sound due to interior wall bounce or reverb. I’m looking forward to seeing how the crowd reacts as we feed off their energy.”
For those keeping close tabs on the band, it was just merely a matter of times for a tour announcement, following news that Cold Chisel was getting put back together and working on new material shared to the band’s social media earlier this year.
“Everyone had been writing independently so we wanted to get together and see what we had,” Small explains, referring to the conversations that led to rekindling the greatness that is Cold Chisel. “Once we got to the demo stage together, it was obvious there was enough material for a really good album and more. We don’t get inspired unless we have new material to work on.”
It was in 2011, when the group was working on a new studio album that became No Plans, that Steve Prestwich sadly died from complications during surgery for a brain tumour. Eventually, Charley Drayton agreed to step in to help complete what Steve began and he’s played drums with the band ever since, including on the record-breaking Light The Nitro Tour and 2015’s platinum-certified The Perfect Crime, currently their last recorded studio album.
Now their forthcoming ninth album will arrive more than 40 years since their self-titled debut. In the ensuing years, they’ve not only created a bulletproof back catalogue but also secured a loyal following and an enduring legacy. Nevertheless, they’re not ready to rest on their laurels.
“Cold Chisel has a distinctive style and sound that has matured over the years,” Small explains. “Back in the day songs were brought to the studio ready to record. These days we all try and contribute our own parts to the songs. The songwriting and recording process is more of a collaboration. The new material has co-writes with lyrics by Jim and music by Don.”
As for what we can expect from the forthcoming album, Small reveals it will be “Music that resonates with people. Songs to listen to while you’re driving, songs for good times and a few surprises. There definitely will be a new single out to kick start the tour.”
Cold Chisel songs are utterly engrained in the fabric of Australasian life. It’s a body of work that has defined and echoed who we are, and everybody has their own favourites, which Small can’t wait to share those classics with Australian audiences this summer.
“‘All For You’, a song penned by Don for the ‘No Plans’ album [would be a favourite],” he says. “This was one of the last songs Steve Prestwich recorded with us, so there is quite a bit of sentiment attached. It’s a great song and is a joy to play live.”
For more than 40 years Cold Chisel has defied the odds, ignored the trends, and blazed their own trail. The band has endeared themselves to all sorts of Australians because their uncompromising attitude articulates our hopes, fears, alienation and humour, and because they are simply one of the most ferocious live rock ‘n’ roll outfits on earth.
Cold Chisel will be bringing the summer heat to Mt Duneed Estate, Geelong on Saturday, January 11.
One of only three Victorian shows, tickets to this event will be in huge demand when they go on sale on Monday, October 21 at 11.00am from Ticketmaster, with pre-sale tickets going on sale on Wednesday, October 16 at 2.00pm.
Visit www.adayonthegreen.com.au for all the latest information.
Photo by Daniel Boud