Harvest Rock @ Rymil & King George Parks, Adelaide 19/11/2022

Harvest Rock! Harvest Rock finally descended on Adelaide for two days of music, food and good times in the heart of the city. Even better still this festival is uniquely South Australian with a number of artists performing exclusive performances here only which great that we to can get nice things. Right from the outset the weather forecast would have given event organisers a few headaches and early it was looking pretty good until things changed late afternoon. Weather aside the festival was really well organised and laid out and the artists/ bands on the bill looked a pretty good fit. Catering options were a plenty and one could really feast like royalty depending on how deep your pockets were.

Like any festival it is a coin flip to decide who to see full sets of and who to see a bit to say I had seen. Allen Stone brought the edgy soul-pop and earthy folk-rock vibes to the Vines Stage and as Tim Rogers said it was mighty fine to have Marlon Williams back in the county who had been touring non-stop for three months. Party Boy and Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore was a big highlight in his set.

That rock ‘n roll band from rock ‘n roll land You Am I drew a massive crowd on the Vines Stage. They were in full flight with Rumble, Minor Byrd and The Waterboy charming the pants off everyone. Timmy thanked the medical staff of Adelaide so we can only assume he had been unwell leading up to the show. Who Put The Devil In You? and Cathy’s Clown were absolutely scintillating and Davey Lane “delighted” the crowd on We All Went Deaf Overnight. Timmy was left hanging trying to start Mr Milk as Rusty was distracted by an audience member and it was awesome to see the band plough through Jewels & Bullets and How Much Enough? The rain came tumbling down during Good Morning sending people scurrying for ponchos and the wet weather gear finishing on the iconic Berlin Chair.

Meg Mac spoke of nightmares before playing a festival dreaming about whether anyone would turn up to see her. Meg had a big crowd at the Harvest Stage to see her play tunes from new album Matter Of Time. Highlights included Low Blows, Is It Worth Being Sad and Understand. Meg said it was great to be playing festivals again finishing on Never Be. It did seem as if the addition of Goanna to the bill was a major coup as it may well be the last time we’ll seem them tour with mainstay Shane Howard indicating that it always seemed improbable but they made it to Adelaide. Celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Spirit of Place there was a huge crowd there to see them in the pouring rain. Iconic hits such as Razor’s Edge and Solid Rock were absolute winners and I think the walk away quote from Shane Howard “can we make this a better country? Course we can! The future doesn’t exist, go make it” will no doubt stick with quite a few.

Seeing Tones and I performing Dance Monkey was more than enough for me but it was back to the Vines Stage to see Courtney Barnett. Courtney and band were in cracking form. Plenty great tunes in the set from Avant Gardener, Nameless Faceless, Small Poppies and Rae Street. It would have been good to see Over Everything with Kurt Vile but it was time to move on to The Lumineers. The Lumineers were elite bringing music from their four albums to life. Opening with Brightside it seemed quite ironic that they played a teaser of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Have You Ever Seen The Rain? before morphing in to Cleopatra. Plenty of big singles featured in the set early with Ho Hey and Angela. The crowd got involved on AM Radio singing back the words “I couldn’t give up” making for a great moment. One hour really didn’t seem long enough but was great to be able to hear Gloria, Ophelia and a Rolling Stones cover You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

Kurt Vile playing his only Australian show at Harvest Rock is an interesting cat. It was a big crowd of curious onlooks but for me it was only a stop stop but enough time to see Place of OKV in Reverse, Loading Zones, Bassackwards and Hey Like A Child off his new album. Vile said he brought his band over from Philli and whilst they were going home tomorrow he wanted to to stay. Hells bells The Black Crowes were superb! Fantastic to see brothers Chris and Rich Robinson united and playing music together again. Hard to believe it has been fourteen years since their last show here, I remember the date well as my son was born that day they played here and having missed it for obvious reasons I had given up hope they would be back. Ninety minutes of awesome. Their set was quite a departure form the Shake Your Money Maker album set list they had played around the country and was definitely a beauty for the die hard fans. Highlights, well there were plenty including Seeing Things, Under A Mountain, Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone, Soul Singing, Wiser Time, Thorn In My Pride wrapping on their monster hit Remedy.

By this stage it was cold, everything aching and being soaked through we all had to collectively dig deep as the infamous Jack White took to the stage. His performance was next level! Elite! There was no question that we saw and experienced some great live music during the day but Jack White lived up to the headline status kicking things up another ten gears. Playing exclusively at Harvest Rock definitely did mean a lot more to us South Australians who are used to missing out on big names but not tonight. Jack comes out in to a frenetic and control chaos of guitars ripping through Taking Me Back, Fear of the Dawn and Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground. Jack’s band were absolutely dynamite and really did know how to kick out the jams but watching Jack on his command reign it back in, it definitely seemed as if they were all in sync.

There was no let up in the intensity of his performance as the crowd continued to dance and jump in the rain. Jack on piano for The Raconteurs You Don’t Understand Me was absolute gold. Hi-De-Ho was an interesting one but arguably Lazaretto is White’s best solo single which sounded even better live. White Stripes classic Fell In Love With A Girl and Icky Thump were brilliant and hard to believe an hour whizzed by. In an extended encore it was a ripping version of The Raconteurs Steady As She Goes and with White asking the crowd for a favour to sing back “are you ready now” lifted the collective spirits as the rain continued to tumble down. What’s The Trick – brilliant as was Sixteen Saltines. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to finish off Harvest Rock Day One than on Seven Nation Army. It was epic!

Weather aside Harvest Rock was all that we thought it would be and more. The only thing I would add is for myself to be better prepared for wet weather and also I think it would be awesome for Harvest Rock 2023 to have a side by side stage at the Harvest Stage so that there is non-stop music action right through the day. Time to pick up these weary bones and back up for day two.

Live Review By Rob Lyon

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