Surfbeat Takes On The Oils

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Surfbeat Takes On The Oils

Last week Midnight Oil returned to Victoria for their first shows in 17 years. It’s been a long time between drinks for the band and many thought that while front man Peter Garrett pursued his political career in Canberra there was a strong chance they may never play together again.

Fortunately for music lovers around the world the fire still burned deep in the belly of Midnight Oil and after a decent break from life as a politician, Garrett called the boys and the band was back on.

Hanging Rock Reserve near Macedon was an interesting choice of venue for their first Victorian show. Located one hour from Geelong, it sits under the gaze of Hanging Rock and the surrounding Macedon mountain range. In many ways it was the perfect venue for the Oils. A band who sing and preached about the importance of mother nature and the value of protecting the environment.

For this gig an entire festival set up was plonked amongst a sea of gum trees and soaring rock walls. It smelt and sounded like the Australia bush… but with a massive rock stage, light towers, TV screens and 20,000 people keen to see the band for the first time in two decades.

The John Butler Trio warmed up the audience before the Oils hit the stage. The sun set low in the west and the chill in the air started to take on a serious edge. On dusk smoke filled the stage and the shadowy figures of Midnight Oil made the way to the instruments. Without a pause the lights came on full and the Oils burst into Redneck Wonderland with guitars screaming and Garrett charging around the stage.

At almost two metres tall Garrett has a commanding presence on stage and now at the age of 64 he was darting across the stage, arms flailing in all directions. It was like being in a time machine and getting blasted back to the nineties when the Oils were at the peak of their powers. They were load, fast and tight as a drum.

Ten minutes into the set and the moon started to slowly rise over the Macedon Ranges like a big eye coming to watch the show. The Oils leapt into Stars of Warburton, the stage a purple haze of smoke and light. Short Memory had the crowd jumping to their feet. Out came the iPhones and joints as Garrett stalked the stage in the cold.

Over the next 90 minutes the band wheeled out all the favourites, USA Forces, Blue Sky Mine (more iPhones and fist pumps), Truganini, Stand In Line. Throughout the show Rob Hurst played with the enthusiasm of a twenty year old while Jim Moginie stood on stage like Hanging Rock itself, barely moving but blasting out electric riff after riff.

The concert closed with a triple encore…. Borderline, Power and the Passion (Garrett got the flare out) and closed with Best Of Both Worlds. And then the show was over… twenty years had passed and they Oils had performed better then ever. Their music hadn’t mellowed, lost its anger or passion. It was a memorable concert by a memorable band in a memorable place. The local native wildlife will sleep peacefully tonight.

Hanging Rock
November 4, 2017

Written by John Foss