Band t-shirts were donned, jeans were pulled on and sleeves were rolled up. Hair was teased, beers were drunk and merchandise was flying off the sticky shelves. Midnight Oil has well and truly taken over Coogee.
Australia’s very own sons of rock, Midnight Oil, return to their grass root beginnings at Selina’s in Coogee Bay Hotel. The venue was an infamous melting pot of Aussie rock and roll, hosting some of the local, biggest and best international gigs in town, casually making way for names like The Angels, INXS and Nirvana. After a short stint of closing its doors, Selina’s proudly re-opened and the Oils were the first big name to bring the sweat back to the venue.
Entry to the show was ballot-only, you had to be one of the lucky die hard fans to get your foot in the door. There was definitely an exciting and nervous energy about Coogee. Lots of little smirks amongst those with tickets and those without. Everyone knew something special was going to take place and the countdown was well and truly on until the boys took back to the stage.
Merchandise flew from tables, with limited amount of special edition ‘Selinas x Midnight Oil’ shirts going for a very reasonable price of $40. This was all soon to be sold out.
Beers in hands and stomachs in throats, even the blokiest of blokes were a little nervous to get the night underway. Manly new-comers Winston Surfshirt bring the groove with new material, highlighting the amazing skills of their saxophone player. Their sounds are funk, groove and psychedelic all rolled into one, an interesting combo which seems to pay off with the crowd engaged, nodding their heads along. This is just a little taster of what’s to come.
Lights are dimmed and monotones of bass start resounding. Fans look at one another and chatter nervously… “could this be it?!”. And before we know it and in absolute Peter Garrett style, the man himself is hanging off the side of a speaker wearing an Indigenous shirt, almost swimming underneath purple lasers and lights with his hand reaching out to touch the thick waves electricity in the air. The band open with ‘Outside World’, and man, if only the outside world could experience the other world we were entering.
Shoulder to shoulder the fans stand mesmerised, involved and excited, all chanting lyrics back to the band as they continue to power through sets of songs from their classic Head Injuries album. ‘Bus to Bondi’ is a crowd favourite, with roars of screams and bursts of dancing taking over the venue floor. The Oils smile, feeling very at home in Selina’s, as though not much has changed (because literally nothing has changed with the venue. I can still smell the terrible hairspray of the 80’s lingering).
The set list is huge, boasting an incredible 29 songs with jokes, conversations and commentary all mixed in between. Huge and heavy sounds like ‘Power And The Passion’, ‘Best Of Both Worlds’ and ‘Lucky Country’ continue ringing into hundreds of ears. It’s an event and a half to hear the stellar combination of songs in one show.
Garrett’s dancing skills have not faded an inch, with his iconic crazy hand moves and gestures taking over the stage and filling the audience with laughter and not too distant memories. Drummer Rob Hirst doesn’t hold back and gives the show all he has, showing off his best skills in solos, on a set of snare and bass drums, and even plays the water tank set up next to his drum, because #straya.
The Oils tease the crowd, running off stage, coming back to play more, then running off again. Their fans lap up every second of the night, and seconds turn to hours as the band play for 2 hours and 30 minutes; a seriously incredible feat considering my feet were sore and my throat was dry from singing all night.
Lights play around the venue and folks dance with each other as Midnight Oil bid us farewell with their final song ‘US Forces’ (a seemingly relevant song choice). As the sound faded and the band walk off stage, the crowd were left still wanting more… but who could ever get enough of Midnight Oil?
The band are better than imaginable live. They are passionate, they are crazy and they are involved. It’s like being hit by a dumper of a wave in Coogee, powerful and overwhelming, but you still go back for more.
This was one for the history books. An incredible band in an infamous venue surrounded by the best bunch of fans. It was special, magical and truly Aussie. Maybe it goes to show that old venues can still be the best, and maybe all they need are a little TLC and renovation to return them to their former beauty. And maybe all Selina’s needed was a tiny spark of madness from Midnight Oil to kick off an incredible set of events that venue is set to offer in the future. Music is a huge part of our culture and country, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead of our music, arts and culture industry. Bring on more comebacks and reform those great bands, because the crowd is ready and waiting for more to hit our corner pubs.