Sunday, March 15, 2009


a day of Australian anthems. Songs we grew up on or, for those in my loose age group, songs that grew up on us. Twin twelve hour concerts—Sydney, Melbourne—under the banner Sound Relief. Proceeds from the Melbourne one going to help victims of the Victorian bushfires, those from the Sydney concert shared between victims of the bushfire & the recent Queensland floods.

Two cable channels, one for each show. Occasional feeds from the other in the changeovers between groups. Mainly homegrown talent—allowing for the fact that the music industry here, like show business & sports, claims New Zealanders as their own—with a couple of overseas groups, Coldplay & Kings of Leon, both of whom are touring here at present, thrown into the mix. Two groups—Jet & Wolfmother—did both venues. & even though there were a few band reformations, not the normal nostalgia concert routine of aged rockers being fed glucosamine & adrenaline & sent on stage to supplement their old age pensions. Everybody, with one notable exception, still in the music business.

Sydney the more poppier concert. Coldplay to open, the close a saccharin duet by Barry Gibbs & Olivia Newton-John, Islands in the Stream, a Bee Gees song originally intended for Marvin Gaye, but taken to #1 by Kenny Rodgers & Dolly Parton.

Melbourne a bit more rock-oriented. Jet opened the concert & then flew to Sydney to perform again. A couple of recently reformed groups, & some groups reformed especially for this occasion. Great to see the Finns back in their various formats—Split Enz, Crowded House—& great to see Neil's son Liam who just might be the greatest drummer I have ever laid eyes on.

& to close the show, the Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts in the current Australian Federal Government being more political than he has since going into Politics. Mick Jagger strutting his stuff even at peak form has nothing on Peter Garrett in full flight. Midnight Oil came together for the second time in the last ten years—the other was for a Tsunami Relief concert about five years ago—with only the briefest of rehearsals, two short gigs just across the road from Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday & Friday.

They're still the greatest rock band in the country. My only regret, listening to the lyrics & bearing in mind Garrett's current job, is that it's easier to sing about change than to enact it.


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