I last saw Midnight Oil in 1993 unplugged at Ronnie Scott’s having been lucky in a radio phone-in. I never thought it would take me 24 years to see them again but here I am with the excitement of youth flowing yet again.
The main lights go down and Blade Runner’s end titles flicker through the speakers and soon ‘Redneck Wonderland’ is reverberating around the Apollo. ‘Read About It’ follows and the reunited brethren are back. All six are in black with Garrett throwing those trademark moves with the same intense intent as of old.
Even at 64 his huge frame, shaved head, and deepset features make for a striking presence leading a band, and I dare say the ‘sometimes politician’ has found them a useful asset in the world of politics too.
‘Truganini’ is welcomed with relish as this mainly older male half-Australian crowd enjoy Garrett’s harmonica intro. As the guitars creep steadily louder and Garrett’s unmistakable vocals take hold, it’s anti-colonial sentiment cannot be ignored.
“With all respect to our English audience that flags got to go.”
Midnight Oil have always been intensly political and tonight is no exception. “We spent a lot of time on this set list, more time than you did on Brexit” Garrett quips. “Certainly infinitely more than Trump has on his last seven days of tweets too.”
No one in his sights escapes, climate change, Trump, the monarchy, Richard Branson, all feel the sharp end of his tongue. But ultimately it’s the music that speaks volumes here. Removing his black shirt you understand his viewpoint. It reads ‘To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men’. Clearly not a charge that will be laid at his feet anytime soon. And that is where Midnight Oil unite, the musicianship is of the highest order, vocally there’s a passion almost unseen these days and at the heart of it all lies a vast collection of simply exquisite songs.
The night played out like a gig from the good old days. A good intro welcomed the band on stage, a slow build up of classic old tunes, the mid-set breather which included a piano led version of ‘My Country’ and then the ramp up to the crescendo of ‘The Dead Heart’, ‘Beds Are Burning’, ‘Blue Sky Mine’ and ‘Dreamworld’. Exit stage right, cue applause, and back for a three song encore. Job nicely done.
After such a long absence it was a night to savour and like those mythical buses they’re back in the same venue in two weeks time. See you on July 23rd!
Intro Blade Runner (End Titles) (Vangelis song)
Read About It
Only the Strong
Tin Legs and Tin Mines
Best of Both Worlds
When the Generals Talk
No Time for Games
Somebody’s Trying to Tell Me Something
Power and the Passion
The Dead Heart
Beds Are Burning
Blue Sky Mine
King of the Mountain