Midnight Oil turned the clock back last night with a 29-song, two and a half hour set at Sydney rock institution Selinas. The venue – a mainstay of the Sydney live circuit throughout the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties – played host to the reunited quintet, who used the evening to iron out any last minute kinks before embarking on their "The Great Circle" world tour, which kicks off in South America on April 25th.
Whatever cobwebs still needed blowing out by the time the band walked onstage were difficult to detect, as they commenced their first official headlining gig since 2009's Sound Relief concert (not including last weekend's surprise short set at the Marrickville Bowling Club) with "Outside World", the moody, synth-laden opener of 1982's 10-1 album, frontman Peter Garrett delivering the lyrics atop one of the PA speakers to the side of the stage.
It was, in effect, the calm before the storm, the band quickly leaning into "Only the Strong", "Redneck Wonderland" and "Put Down That Weapon". The first real surprise of the night came as they summoned the spirit of 1979's Head Injuries album, performing it in full from front to back, with the exclusion of "Naked Flame". "That was a record that could either make you or break you," Garrett remarked as the final notes of "Is It Now?" rang out.
With the first hour stacked with deeper cuts, the second half of the show was a feast of hits – "When The Generals Talk", "Power and the Passion", "Best of Both Worlds", "Beds Are Burning", "Blue Sky Mine", "Read About It", "Forgotten Years" – the band warming to the task and becoming ever more sweaty and animated. Garrett grew into his trademark role of whirling dervish as the set progressed, darting in and around guitarists Martin Rotsey and Jim Moginie and bassist Bones Hillman, while Rob Hirst anchored it all with trademark power and precision, assisted in part by Hunters & Collectors' Jack Howard, who provided additional percussion and horns.
Garrett's stage banter veered from the personal to the political, acknowledging Australia's First People on several occasions, as well as band members past and present, while also cracking wise about the length of the band's set: "You're not going to do any home shopping, are you?" he smiled. "What's the hurry?"
During the first of three encores, Garrett pulled a fan from the audience to join him on top of an esky as they 'esky-surfed' their way through the instrumental "Wedding Cake Island", before bidding farewell with "Dreamworld" and "US Forces". "Go angry into the night... with love," the frontman offered as the set drew to a close.
Watch Midnight Oil perform "Stand In Line", live at Selina's, Coogee (April 13th, 2017). Credit: Midnight Oil Facebook Page.
Topics: Midnight Oil