Midnight Oil, Jack River @ Entertainment Centre, Adelaide 30/3/2022

Resist. The new album. The final tour.

Midnight Oil returned to Kaurna Country for a final celebration of their phenomenal music. An auspicious occasion cherished by thousands.

Jack River commenced the evening’s entertainment with an impressive nine-song set. The climate change activist, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer navigated through songs including Ballroom, Confess, Constellation Ball, Fault Line, and We Are the Youth. As her set progressed, she grew more at ease on the stage, chatted with the crowd appearing to revel in the moment. However, it was her classic songs that had us yearning for more and feeling sufficiently warmed up for the main act.

As a video stream of protest images flickered on a screen at the back of the stage, Peter Garrett professed, “Only if/ We resist/ It’s a storm/ Without end.” It was a tranquil yet moody introduction for Midnight Oil’s final live performance here. This quietness didn’t last long as they exploded into At the Time of Writing and The Barka-Darling River from their current album, Resist.

The little Aussie band from Sydney with a 50-year legacy are used to rocking out on the stage. Frankly, they are pretty freaking great at it too.

Never ones to disappoint, Garrett, Rob Hirst, Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey, together with Adam Ventura, Leah Flanagan and Liz Stringer, ensured they tapped into the archives while also showcasing songs from Resist.

Despite the overwhelming anticipation and excitement that was present, there was a gradual incline towards our peaking with elation. In the ebb and flow of new and old, Dreamworld and Stand in Line from decades past had us on our feet. Similarly, as the night grew old, Garrett increasingly became more animated.

Amid multiple wardrobe changes, he danced his customary syncopated rhythms. Running across the entire stage somewhat chaotically, there was in fact method behind the madness. In fact, he was so in tune with the audience that he spontaneously mixed up the setlist based on the vibe. Garrett was enjoying himself on stage. His jovial demeanour glimmered through his stream of consciousness. As an ambassador of music with meaning, he spoke of multiple social issues aligning them with the songs performed. However, unlike the Oils shows at WOMADelaide in 2021, there was less fervour behind these speeches. Instead, Garrett allowed the music to speak for itself.

To the Ends of the Earth, First Nation (performed with Flanagan), and Gadigal Land (with Bunna Lawrie) rounded out the initial phase of the show that primarily focused on newer songs. The flow of songs then transitioned to mainly the classics. This was what we came to hear.

The Dead Heart and My Country saw everyone start to charge to the front of the Entertainment Centre, to the chagrin of security. US Forces bathed the arena in red, white and blue lights. While the show highlight, Short Memory, was mesmerising, especially Moginie’s keyboard solo.

Midnight Oil has mastered the art of flow at their live shows. Perhaps as an acknowledgement to the mean age of their audience, there are suitably timed valleys allowing us to just sit and enjoy. Only the Strong, Maralinga, Somebody’s Trying to Tell Me Something and Rising Seas was a perfect example of the calm, so to speak, before the storm. And what an almighty hurricane it was that followed.

Blue Sky Mine, Power and the Passion with a blockbuster Hirst drum solo, Beds are Burning and Forgotten Years followed and caused pandemonium.

A short break saw the Oils return to the stage for the final time. Garrett sang an off the cuff acapella of the first verse of I’ll Be Gone before launching into Put Down That Weapon, Redneck Wonderland and Hercules.

As he belted out, “This is something I will remember,” it was impossible not to agree. This is something we will all remember.

Live Review By Anita Kertes

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