One of the nicest ways to enjoy live music – particularly rock acts – is an outdoor concert at one of the wineries in the Hunter Valley NSW. Part concert, part festival, part picnic, a Day on the Green is seriously cool, and very retro.
I have been to quite a few over the last few years, and it’s now the only way I want to enjoy rock music. I’m tired of large internal arena spaces where you’re seated so far away that binoculars are the best way to enjoy the act you’ve paid mega dollars to see.
On the Green the buzz of several thousand people, with a variety of ages from those not yet born when the bands were in their heyday, to the seriously geriatric, all gathered to listen, watch, drink, eat and mingle, is exhilarating.
The night is always clear, moonlit and starlit. I don’t know how the promoters manage it. A good upstairs connection I suppose! There’s something about being in the country, with that vast expanse of land and sky that is awe-inspiring, and makes you realise just how constrained our city lives are…
Santana, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Carole King were all memorable winery concerts. But as a Steely Dan tragic, the two concerts I’ve been to in the Hunter are my standouts. However I can’t tell you much about the 2007 gig. It was Steely Dan’s first time in Australia. I was so overcome with actually seeing them in the flesh that I sat completely transfixed, unable to do anything except feast my ears and eyes on the band that I was finally seeing live. I couldn’t even bring myself to take photos.
In 2011, I am relieved to say I was less awe struck and up to viewing them a little more critically and actually documenting my memories with photos.
I should mention the other act of the night was Steve Winwood. If you’re a fan of the man or of Traffic, you would have had a blast. He looked and sounded great! No apparent aging unlike some other rock legends who look exhumed or exsanguinated rather than animated…
The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys from the album of the same name was a standout.
As this is not a concert review I’ll stop here. Suffice it to say that Walter Becker and Donald Fagen and the Steely Dan 2011 tour line-up were fabulous.
|The Miles High Big Band
featuring The Embassy Brats
|Jim Beard Keyboards|
|Keith Carlock Drums|
|Jon Herington Guitar|
|Carolyn Leonhart-Escoffery Vocals|
|Michael Leonhart Trumpet, Keys|
|Cindy Mizelle Vocals|
|Jim Pugh Trombone|
|Roger Rosenberg Baritone Saxophone|
|Catherine Russell Vocals|
|Freddie Washington Bass|
|Walt Weiskopf Saxophone|
Just listening to the opening riff of Josie gave me goose bumps. The reference to Muswellbrook in Black Friday from the 1975 album Katy Lied, at a concert in the heart of the Hunter was funny and sweet and somewhat disconcerting from our American friends. Every number was consummately performed, at least in the somewhat biased view of this writer.
Here are some photos from the 2011 gig plus Carlos Santana from 2008 in the Hunter. From top to bottom:
2011 Walter Becker, Walter Becker with Donald Fagen, Steve Winwood, the stage
2008 Carlos Santana
2011 The Green
The Hunter looks like an amazing way to experience a concert – I’ll have to make it out there sometime!