Big Pineapple Complex, Sunshine Coast, October 14, 2017
I was too young to see Midnight Oil the first time around (they broke up in 2002), so when I heard they were playing at the Big Pineapple as part of their Great Circle reunion tour, I was keen as a bean to grab a ticket.
Having said that, as the rain tumbled down all Saturday, watching Netflix and staying dry inside started to become more appealing. Rain and outdoor concerts mix together about as well as Pauline Hanson and Halal Snack Packs, and as I drove up the Bruce Highway I didn’t know whether to expect a ‘raining at Glastonbury’ vibe or more of an Apocalypse Now-style muddy hell.
Luckily it was the former. I hadn’t seen a concert at the Big Pineapple before, but walking into the venue it was immediately impressive. A huge, outdoor festival-style amphitheatre, with a big stage down the front which the band had had emblazoned with an extract from the UN Declaration of Human Rights:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
Not your typical rock concert!
Midnight Oil have invited different support acts to each leg of the tour, and with Jebediah and the Living End the Sunshine Coast crowd had lucked in (Brisbane got just one support act: the Jezebels).
I am not as familiar as I should be with Jebediah, but the Aussie alt-rock icons had the crowd rocking before the Living End came out and made me realise I’ve probably been unfair to them.
I think because they turn up at the opening of a garage door (is it just me or does it seem like they play literally every festival ever?) I’ve become almost immune to their existence. Seeing them in a field with half of the Sunshine Coast head-banging to ‘Prisoner of Society’ was a reminder how good they are live.
It was seriously bloody wet by the time the Oils took the stage. They began with the crunching industrial riffs of ‘Redneck Wonderland’, with frontman Peter Garrett cutting the shapes he’s famous for (fun fact: the Big Pineapple sits in an electorate where 23% of people once voted for One Nation. Redneck wonderland indeed..).
It was absolutely pissing down, and a near slip slowed Garrett’s dancing a little, but he still got right out amongst it in the rain, telling the crowd that “the more it rains the more we’ll stay to play our set” – or go down to the pub to finish it if the electrics fail.
The first half of the set was mostly album cuts and minor hits, with highlights including ‘On the Borderline’, ‘Dreamworld’ (“this one’s for you, the Queensland song!”), and ‘When the Generals Talk’. Garrett sounded note perfect on them all. It could just as easily have been 1997 as 2017.
The band came to the front of the stage for an acoustic set (highlight for me: ‘Short Memory’) before finishing the main set with ‘Read About it’, ‘Blue Sky Mine’ and ‘Forgotten Years’. Before ‘Blue Sky Mine’ came a little spiel about stopping the Adani coal mine: “Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand, and say I love my country that much I’m gonna stick my neck out for it.”
Garrett’s political career might be over, but Midnight Oil are still very much activists. As well as Adani, there was talk of the Great Barrier Reef, the Traveston Crossing Dam (the construction of which Garrett blocked as Federal Environment Minister), anti-Abbott and Hanson ad-libbing, and at one point, a giant ‘Yes’ for Marriage Equality logo on the big screens.
(Side note: I saw Macklemore play ‘Same Love’ at the NRL Grand Final in Sydney a couple of weeks ago, and no one booed. Or if they did, it was drowned out by cheers. Same deal with the ‘Yes’ logos at Midnight Oil. It you can promote marriage equality at a Rugby League match or in a field outside Nambour without being howled down, then the argument’s already been won. Sorry Tony).
After ‘Forgotten Years’, droves of people had started to make a dash to the car park (always amazes me how many clueless people leave before encores – come on people, they aren’t going to reform and it play ‘Beds are Burning’!). I hope they turned around when the band returned to play an encore with a trio of their biggest hits: ‘King of the Mountain’, ‘Beds are Burning’, and ‘Power and the Passion’.
During ‘Power and the Passion’, Hirst launched into his trademark drum solo, thumping a rusty corrugated iron water tank that the band have been dragging around on tour.
Corrugated iron, torrential spring rain, the Big Pineapple, the Oils… you couldn’t get more Aussie if you tried!
Back on the Borderline
Safety Chain Blues
No Time for Games
When the Generals Talk
Only the Strong
Read About It
The Dead Heart
Blue Sky Mine
King of the Mountain
Beds Are Burning
Power and the Passion