Duane McDonald’s Red Hot Summer festival has grown to become one of Australia’s most appreciated music festivals.
Over 16,000 people gathered at Mornington Racecourse outside Melbourne last weekend to red hot temperatures in the 30s and a red hot line-up headlined by John Farnham.
Dean Ray, Taxiride (with its original line-up), Shannon Noll, The Black Sorrows (filling in for Daryl Braithwaite) and then James Reyne played so many hits it was impossible to keep count.
Before opening act Dean Ray had finished on Sunday over 6000 fans had come through the gates. By the time Taxiride took to the stage, there was a near-capacity crowd there to watch.
For many, seeing Taxiride with original members Jason Singh, Tim Wilde, Tim Watson and Dan Hall, was a treat not seen in over 15 years. Hall exited the band after the first album ‘Imaginate’. It changed the dynamic of what was originally a four-piece harmony group most often compared to Crosby Stills & Nash. Watson left after the second album and the dynamic changed again. To see the original four reminded fans about this great Melbourne band that first fronted towards the end of the 90s and generated two platinum albums and half a dozen top 40 hits.
Shannon Noll has been playing live for more than a dozen years since Australian Idol and has worked out how to please a crowd. Sprinkling a few classic hits hit CCR’s ‘Fortunate Son’ and the iconic ‘Waltzing Matilda’ with his old and new set the mood for a Sunday afternoon.
Joe Camerilli and The Black Sorrows were a last minute replacement for Daryl Braithwaite who fell ill after the show in South Australia a week ago. Joe will only be seen at the two Mornington shows and delivered the most hit intensive set on the day. Every song he played was a hit. Fans were given the added bonus of Vika and Linda Bull who sang lead on one of Joe’s greatest and bluesiest songs ‘Never Let Me Go’.
Daryl’s old friend James Reyne paid tribute to his sick mate with his own band’s version of ‘The Horses’. The audience loved it. James was also generous with his own hits smattering across his Australian Crawl and solo catalogue. It’s hard to believe that Australian Crawl’s debut single ‘Beautiful People’ is just a few years away from turning 40.
And then there was Farnham. The man is 100% performer and his band performs as a single unit. A John Farnham show is the benchmark for professionalism. Yes, he has had 50 years to perfect it but for an artist a few years shy of 70 years old, John Farnham is a true Australian treasure.
He mixed it up a but for Red Hot Summer starting with Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ and ending with a song he has been doing for decades, AC/DC’s ‘It’s a Long Way To The Top’. “Bon Scott would turn in his grave if he knew I did this song, so make a lot of noise and make him spin,” Farnham said leading into the classic.
For Duane McDonald, it has been a long way to the top so this was a great way to end a great day.
The Red Hot Summer tour goes through until April this year and is in two parts with Icehouse and Farnham headlining at different shows along the way.
Red Hot Summer dates
John Farnham, James Reyne, Daryl Braithwaite, Shannon Noll, Taxiride
January 28, Ballarat
February 4, Port Macquarie
February 25 and 26, Sandstone Point
March 4, Dubbo
March 18, Kiama
Icehouse, James Reyne, Daryl Braithwaite, Shannon Noll, Dragon, Pseudo Echo, 1927
February 11, Mt Gambier
February 18, Launceston
March 11, Bateman’s Bay
March 25, Hunter Valley
April 1, Jacobs Well
April 22, Bendigo