What a privilege to see two South Australian iconic acts at Glenelg Beach to start 2020. Cold Chisel and Paul Kelly have been going for more than 45 years each. They both sing songs that tell stories that are truly Australian and detail the Australian condition. Many of their songs are our unofficial national anthems.
What a difference we had today with the weather. The same temporary venue on the sands of Glenelg Beach was used the day before for Rufus Du Sol and that crowd had to endure 42-degree heat while we had a much more civilised 24 degrees for Chisel and co.
First up for me was The Teskey Brothers with their Aussie take on soul, jazz and blues music. Their star is definitely on the rise as they played two sold-out gigs at The Governor Hindmarsh in November as well winning three ARIA awards in the same month. They sounded immaculate today and the crowd was really appreciative of them and especially George Teskey’s soulful vocals. Each member of the band contributes to writing the songs and an early song Say You’ll Do written by Sam Teskey had an excellent searing guitar solo by him.
When the excellent Rain was played it made me regret not seeing them at The Gov in November. The band are a tight unit and in the live setting, they add two extra musicians on trumpet and trombone who help to fill out the sound and evoke a Motown sound. The song Paint my Heart from their second 2019 released album Run Home Slow slowly builds it groove with waves of brass, guitar and keyboards all vying for our attention. Their set ended perfectly with Louisa a harmonica driven bluesy swing fest.
Next up was Paul Kelly who walked on stage alone with an acoustic guitar and commenced playing From Little Things Big Things Grow from the brilliant 1991 album Comedy. The audience was singing the chorus and then one by Paul’s band joined him to finish this wonderful protest song. Paul is ably assisted by his band of many years and shows that he is very loyal to them to keep them unchanged for so long. He played many hits in his set along with lesser-known gems from his recent albums Nature and Life is Fine. A Bastard Like Me was played early in the set and it continues Paul’s biographical songs and is about Charles Perkins a famous Aboriginal activist. For Firewood and Candles I noticed a boy sitting on someone’s shoulders who was singing all the words. Paul noticed him and gave him a shout out and a crew member gave the boy a set list at the end of the show.
We were then treated to many Paul Kelly hits like To Her Door, Leaps and Bounds and Dumb Things Paul told us that he had not supported Cold Chisel for thirty years but felt that this time felt better. Paul played From St Kilda to Kings Cross and told us he wrote it on a piano in Cold Chisel’s Don Walker’s flat in St Kilda where he was staying when he first lived there. The band were in their usual brilliant form. Cameron Bruce on keyboards was superb and Vika and Linda Bull have wonderful voices and always look like they are enjoying themselves. Deeper Water a personal favourite is played and sounds as fresh as ever.
The last song was the excellent Christmas song How to Make Gravy. This song about a man in prison lamenting not being with his family at Christmas and is another example of the extraordinary breadth of Paul’s songwriting skills. It is this song with the help of Triple J that has helped him remain relevant and cool with the kids. Paul played at the 2018 Groovin the Moo Festival alongside acts like Billie Eilish on the main stage. Paul has been doing the Making Gravy tour at Christmas in other states for the last two years and I would love him to do it in his home town of Adelaide at the end of this year.
At 8pm on the dot, Cold Chisel come on stage in front of the fifteen thousand strong crowd many of who were wearing black Cold Chisel T-Shirts or white bandanas. The first song of the night was a blistering version of Standing on the Outside from East. There was not a lot of banter early on between songs and we were treated to Wild Colonial Boy and then Choir Girl the first of many mass sing-a-longs of the set. The crowd like most Cold Chisel crowds was boisterous but very neighbourly toward each other. I think singing so many of the songs together will do that.
Rising Sun with its rockabilly leanings and excellent sax was followed by My Baby which highlighted Ian Moss’ talented guitar playing. Drive is the first of four songs played from their new Blood Moon album and for me, the new songs are great and are what sets this concert apart from others I have seen of theirs. Land of Hope with its risqué lyrics is a wonderful slow groover from the latest album and is another rant against the US much like You’ve Got Nothing I want played later in the set. Four Walls from East never gets old and Don Walker’s beautiful piano skills are at the forefront. For this song, they point the top stage lights straight down to emulate prison bars.
The hits and sing-a-longs keep coming with Saturday Night and Shipping Steel. It is then with the upper echelon of Cold Chisel hits with Khe Sanh and Bow River and the crowd is in raptures. Both songs had local lad David Blight on harmonica and he has never sounded better. David is a worthy inductee in the South Australian Music Hall of Fame. Both Ian Moss and Jimmy Barnes are such passionate singers and I love the way they sing Bow River together.
After a quick encore break, they played When the War Is Over with lovely backing vocals from Jade Macrae, Juanita Tippins and Mahalia Barnes. Next was the huge Cheap Wine which had the most apt lyrics of the day for this crowd! (sitting on the beach drinking rocket fuels). Flame Trees up next and it is arguably the greatest Australian Rock Ballad ever written and like Paul Kelly, Don Walker’s bittersweet lyrics in this song and many others shows why he is in Aussie songwriters hall of fame.
Breakfast at Sweethearts starts the next encore and is followed by Forever Now which was written by the late Cold Chisel drummer Steve Prestwich who passed away in 2011. Jimmy paid tribute to Steve and earlier in the day Steve’s brothers’ band the Tim Prestwich Band opened proceedings and have done so for many of Cold Chisel’s Adelaide concerts which shows great support to them. Prior to the Teskey Brothers, The Detonators from Melbourne with their no-nonsense Jump-Rock Blues played. They have been around since 1997 and Cold Chisel labelled them as their favourite band.
The rocking keyboard-heavy Letter to Alan finished the second encore and then the boys were back on stage for the usual and obvious last song Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye). After this magnificent concert to wind down I wandered to the nearby Pier Hotel with old friends to see which one of us could tell the biggest lies.
Live Review By Richard De Pizzol