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Tag Archives: Hope Estate

Midnight Oil: Back Home and Back in Form


Wow! Back home the Oils were at their energetic and acerbic best in the Hunter Valley in October, delivering raw powerful rock with a not so subltle message,  exhorting us to save our planet and save our species (morally at least) from further destructive acts.

We’re at Hope Estate. It’s Saturday 21 October and we were about to witness the much anticipated – and much hyped – return of Midnight Oil to the stage. I write this post on the day of the culminating Oz event for the Oils,  the concert in the Domain in Sydney, Saturday 11 November. Which will be mega, as they play to their home town crowd.

We were back in the Hunter too. The Doctors and the Rock Chick, who has been my partner in crime in lots of adventures. We’ve been to many gigs over the years – who could forget Led Zeppelin in 1972? We were young, single and fancy free, but now at least we’re single once more and still very much fancy free!

After a world tour that took them to venues in both hemispheres, Midnight Oil were back home and back in form!

The weather behaved – a classic Hunter Valley spring night – cloudless, inky black and starry.

Hope Estate was packed, with a capacity crowd usually only seen for uber celebrity rock acts like the Stones or the Boss. The crowd spanned the ages, mums and dads, little kids, grandads and grandmums, and loads of Gen Xs who grew up on  the music. The Gen Ys seemed a little mystified with the rock star reverence that their parents were showing as iconic song followed iconic song.

The band played for a non-stop 2 hours. So much energy on stage! Rob Hirst’s drum solo was exhilarating, so much Power in his drumming with so much undoubted Passion!

But it’s front man Peter Garrett who is the riveting performer onstage. His voice, punching out the lyrics, his literally huge presence, and his Joe Cocker like disjointed strutting  across the stage, are what Midnight Oil are all about.

And we are left in no doubt about the message. The Oils may not directly directly influence politics, but it’s clear that their huge following may just be the ones to start off that process of social change.

Peter, your music speaks so much louder than your politics…

Set List Saturday 21 October 

Redneck Wonderland

Read About It

In The Valley

Stand in Line

River Runs Red

Truganini

Hercules

My Country

When the Generals Talk

Short Memory

US Forces

Kosciusko

Only the Strong

Put Down That Weapon

Beds Are Burning

Blue Sky Mine

Forgotten Years

Dreamworld

Encore:

The Dead Heart

Power and the Passion

Best of Both Worlds

Encore 2:

King of the Mountain

 

 

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Fleetwood Mac: Rocking into Retirement

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So we’re back in the Hunter Valley at Hope Estate for another concert from some Old Rockers. Fleetwood Mac were back in town. They had cancelled their 2013 tour after John McVie became ill. So it was good to see them back – and this was the best thing about the gig – Christine McVie was reunited with the band.

Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, John McVie and Christine McVie together again! The dream line-up.

Now I was sitting quite a way back, but with the help of giant video screens, it was obvious from the youthful appearance of the band members that “work” had been done. And quite a lot of work. Lindsey Buckingham looked like he had been embalmed… I found his orange colour quite disconcerting. Stevie Nicks looked good, she’d dropped some weight – but was she wearing a wig?? Can anyone of her age have that much blonde hair to swoosh? It was hard to see what John McVie looked like, he played bass upstage from the others. No Sting-like theatrics for this unobtrusive rocker. Mick Fleetwood looked just like always, he had apparently barely aged. Somewhat of a gentle giant, with the occasional manic moves on drums.

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Christine McVie was the standout. The oldest of the bunch, at 72 she looked really great – and sounded great. 16 years away from Fleetwood Mac and the rock and roll lifestyle have clearly had their benefits. Slim, energetic, giving it her all in her own numbers, she did none of the annoying prancing and dancing that Stevie and Lindsey indulged in for far too much of their time on stage. We were here for the music, not the geriatric calisthenics. Christine was worth the trip.

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It was a good concert but not a great concert. You got the feeling that they had done this gig time after time after time. There was no spontaneity, no straying from the set list. Even the stage patter sounded formulaic and rehearsed. Stevie greeted us with “I’ve never been to Hunter Valley”. We know, cause if you had, you’d know it’s The Hunter Valley.  The all important “the”.  And we know all about the Stevie/Lindsey dynamic, so we didn’t need to see some fake frolicking and lovey dove stuff during a couple of the numbers.

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But, all things considered, the Old Rockers gave us all the classics and pretty decently too. Lindsey’s guitar antics were pretty awesome and it’s clear he’s still got it musically. Mick’s manic drumming was pretty good too – highly energetic, what is he on?

 “Dreams”, “Rhiannon”, “Tusk”, “Sara”, “Gypsy”, “Little Lies” and “Go Your Own Way” were my favourites and they have stood the test of time. Stevie’s voice was a little low and husky, while Christine McVie sounded like she had just stepped out of the 70s.

The weather was not kind: drizzly rain and cool temperatures on what should have been a balmy spring night. The crowd was edgy, patrons were drunk rather than tipsy, and a scuffle broke out towards the end of the gig. We felt the 2 1/2 hour concert dragging. We were cold and wet and ready for the bus back home. Back at chez Shakey – Hunter Valley Country Lodge –  a hot shower and a liqueur muscat nightcap really warmed us up.

I’m sure the band would have slept well too, after the gig, dreaming of the money they had made on this tour, and perhaps thinking of retirement. Right? Right.

Oh, I should mention that the bonus at the concert was the support act Angus and Julia Stone. A great Australian brother and sister duo worth listening to.

Fleetwood Mac Hope Estate, 14 November 2015

 

 

Paul Simon and Sting in the Hunter Valley: The Odd Couple

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A warm February night in the Hunter Valley. It was Valentine’s Day and a waning moon. Is that significant? Is love on the decline in our increasingly  commercial culture?

A group of old friends, school and uni, were gathered for the Paul Simon and Sting gig at Hope Estate. It seemed like yesterday I was at the same venue under balmy skies to watch the consummate act of the Rolling Stones (review here) go through their geriatric paces.

Geriatric is not a word you would use to describe the 64 year-old Sting, whose rippling muscles defined his slender torso. Sporting a hipster beard, he’s still got it. I was a Sting tragic in the 80s, and still have a fascination for his musical breadth and diverse interests. I was richly rewarded on Saturday night. He featured a lot of his wonderful jazz influenced 80s repertoire. When The World Is Running Down and Driven To Tears were probably less accessible for the audience than Roxanne, but they made my night as I had last seen them performed live in the 80s with Sting’s epic jazz line-up of Branford Marsalis, Darryl Jones, Kenny Kirkland and Omar Hakim.

Paul Simon is a little worn. But not bad for 74, his performing style is not the main attraction. A consummate song writer, with the commonality with Sting of an interest in world rhythms, hearing him perform his music which had its genesis 50 years ago was a pleasure. I listened rather than watched.

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover and Still Crazy after all These Years were lyrical and moody, while Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes was wonderfully delivered and had the audience dancing in the aisles.

The Odd Couple did a couple of things that surprised me. When they sang each other’s songs they were really impressive. Simon’s rendition of Sting’s Fragile was poignant: highlighting the song’s political message. Sting’s back-story of America as the sound track to his first tour of the US gave a lovely new narrative twist to Simon’s lyrics.

I was least impressed with their duo singing. Their vocal styles are so different and don’t quite match. Not such a problem on Sting’s stuff, it really grated on Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel numbers. Sting is no Art Garfunkel, and I missed the pure, choir boy harmonies of the early Garfunkel. The Boxer, my favourite song of the original duo, in Saturday’s performance became formulaic and lacking in narrative strength. And the encore of Bridge Over Troubled Water, mostly delivered by Sting, was mundane and without real emotion. You just have to listen to Garfunkel’s singing of Simon’s lyrics to appreciate the beauty of the song.

It was a great night. I love to see musical legends of the 20th century perform live. These two, while not being a match made in heaven, were able to deliver a fairly representative selection of their musical history. And they clearly respect each other as musicians and people. There was a lot of hugging on stage, between the short one and the tall one, which was rather sweet.

And returning to Valentine’s Day – love off stage was there too. My old school friend and her husband, long time partners, danced bare foot in the aisles, absorbed in the moment and in each other, reviving even this old cynic’s view of life and love.

Paul Simon and Sting: Hope Estate Hunter Valley, 14 February 2015

 

 

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