An expectant near-capacity crowd in ponchos and rain gear greeted John Farnham enthusiastically as he burst on stage with We Will Rock You, the version upon which he had collaborated with Queen for the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Perhaps paying tribute to current hype surrounding the recent biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, Farnham’s version certainly got the rain-soaked crowd in a cheerful and lively mood. Following up with Hearts on Fire, then the title tracks off Age of Reason and Chain Reaction, Farnham’s lively banter with good-natured hecklers in the crowd certainly had everyone forgetting the inclement weather. Instead, the crowd was reminded of the consummate performer within this Aussie music icon – never missing a beat and showing off his famous vocal range.
Looming rain clouds had been threatening all afternoon, with light drizzle intermittent, but the clouds had decided to release their contents between supporting acts Richard Marx and Daryl Braithwaite. Marx had encouraged some audience participation during the hits Don’t Mean Nothing, Satisfied, and had devotees dancing along to Hazard. Finishing up with Right Here Waiting, Marx had some technical difficulties with the keyboard, but once he started playing, the minor hiccup didn’t detract from his performance with the audience enthusiastically singing along. Marx was making his A Day on the Green debut in McLaren Vale and the audiences readily accepted the tourist, being the lone international star billed for this event. After Marx’s set everyone scrambled to cover up as the rain set in, accompanied by DJ Grand Master Baitz spinning a rain-inspired set list of It’s Raining Men, Don’t Blame it On the Boogie and November Rain.
All-round nice guy, Daryl Braithwaite, was the perfect antidote to the weather, playing hits from his Sherbet days including Howzat and a selection from his extensive solo career such as Wish You Well, As the Days Go By, Rise and One Summer. Before finishing with Horses, Braithwaite paid tribute to a fair number of people and showed concern for all, including audience members in the rain. Demonstrating an inherent humbleness, Braithwaite heralded the way for the main act, who came on after another set from the DJ, a short half hour later. Braithwaite had certainly lifted the spirits of the crowd and with his stewardship, had topped off the support performances from Marx as well as fellow Aussies Russell Morris and Bachelor Girl earlier in the afternoon. Morris’ blues and roots set showed off his lead guitarist’s prowess as well as Morris’ own melodic Aussie heritage. Bachelor Girl, accompanied by finer weather, had fired up the mid-afternoon crowd with hits such as Buses and Trains and I’m Just a Girl.
To finish the event with John Farnham belting out crowd favourites, demonstrated everything we’ve come to love about A Day On The Green – a vibrant Australian music scene, our warm hospitality of international stars and of course great wine country. With Every Time You Cry and Reasons, Farnham celebrated the wonderful backing vocals from four stalwarts of the industry. Following up with A Touch of Paradise, Pressure Down, That’s Freedom and the obligatory bag pipe solo in You’re the Voice, many of us forgot the rain and reminisced about summers past. It may only be a week away from summer, but the occasional deluge didn’t dampen the spirits of all attending with everyone joining in raucously for Farnham’s encore of It’s a Long Way to the Top. Farnham and Braithwaite, supported by a stellar line-up, certainly know how to put on a foot-stomping show come rain, hail or shine (or a bit of all three).
Live Review by Kim Burley