Midnight Oil

Subject: Thoughts from Oakland
From: mossman@pacbell.net
Date: 29/05/2017, 12:58 am

I thought I would record a few observations from last night's show.  Let me start with the negatives to get those out of the way.  First of all, the concert was too loud in places.  You know the type of loud where the noise takes over and the nuances of the different instruments are lost in the sea of sounds?  It was that kind of loud.  The kind where Peter's words were hard to discern at times, which is fine when he sings songs that are burned in my memory, but not so great when he goes off track and ad-libs new lines.  Midnight Oil are a power band, and they really feed off the energy of having the volume set to high, but if they could just have dialed things back a tick or two, it would have sounded a lot better.  The venue may have played a role as well, but it's hard to say.

Second, the opening act was not great.  I know, I know, they never are, and I wanted to like the group, but they feel like a band that hasn't quite found its voice yet.  But there are glimpses of brilliance in their songs, it just rarely came together.  Of course, as an oils fan, I would gladly have traded that act in for an extra 30 minutes of the main act, but given the age of the band, perhaps that's asking for a bit too much.  In the end the Oils did clock in a respectable 2 hours anyway.

And that's it.  That's my only criticism.  All in all, the concert was freaking awesome.  Going back to the age thing, I couldn't discern if Hirst had lost a beat (pun intended), and Garrett may have slowed down a touch, but then again, maybe that's just my imagination.  It didn't feel like a band who was getting up there.  It felt like a band that was really happy to be on the road again, and it came across in full force.

The track list was solid.  Because they are rotating songs, I didn't know what to expect.  I don't like every song Midnight Oil makes, but I do like most of them.  But to have a concert where virtually every song is part of my select playlist is a hell of a thing.  A lot of Diesel and Dust, and a nice spread of songs before and after.  Ok, maybe Redneck Wonderland isn't one of my favorites, but even then it was a smart choice as a concert opener.  And they played Ships of Freedom which may be my favorite non-album track of theirs.  Honestly, the song choice was about as close to perfection as is possible for me.

Generally the lighting was pretty strong.  Nothing remarkable, mind you, but it worked well.  The highlight was when the lights were just two colors, a greyish with red beams which sliced through the smoky air.  It was a nice effect that make it feel like things had turned black and white with the one color coming through.  Kind of like the movie Sin City, if you recall.

As for political commentary, you go expecting some pointed remarks, and they delivered.  I may disagree with Peter's stance on cruise ships, but fully appreciate the general thinking behind it.  And politically, well you kind of know what to expect there, and he came though in a satisfying way.

It's not always been a smooth road for the band on this comeback effort.  A lot of these sell-outs are due to scalpers buying up all the tickets in the anticipation that they would return a nice profit (it probably didn't in Oakland, tickets were as low as $6 on Stub Hub going into the day of the concert), making their popularity seem artificially inflated.  And we all know about the foibles of the new box sets.  But the bottom line is that the band kicked ass at what they do best, and the rest is just noise in the background.

Having said all that, here's my one sentence review of the concert: Thank you, Midnight Oil, for putting in an excellent and memorable show, and being a voice of conscious that modern music still finds difficult to embrace.