REVIEW: Midnight Oil, Hope Estate, Saturday October 21

THE Great Circle Tour has been spinning its way around the globe and Australia and Saturday night was the Hunter’s turn - and boy did Midnight Oil deliver.

A capacity crowd at Pokolbin’s Hope Estate lapped up every minute of the Aussie rock royalty’s two-hour set that spanned 22 songs. Everything from their 1998 detour into industrial rock (Redneck Wonderland) back to their blitzing 1979 pub rock roots (Stand In Line).

Sure, there was a few extra wrinkles on Peter Garrett’s bald melon and Martin Rotsey was sporting more grey hair, but The Oils had lost none of the visceral energy and political punch which made them one of Australia’s best and most important bands.

Newcastle and the Hunter have history with The Oils. The region played a pivotal role in the development of the Sydney band, and of course, Midnight Oil gave back to the city in the groundbreaking Newcastle Earthquake Benefit Concert in February 1990.

Garrett hadn’t forgotten.

“Hello to all our friends from the Ambassador. If you’re under 40 then you don’t know why you’re cheering.” 

For those too young (and that’s this writer included) The Ambassador was a Newcastle nightclub famous for its rock shows and a regular haunt for Midnight Oil.

It wouldn’t be a Midnight Oil show without politics and Garrett, a former Labor minister, cast a few barbs towards his old Liberal foes in ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott and foreign minister Julie Bishop.

Truganini was dedicated to New Zealand’s new young Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern followed by “if she doesn’t get to talk to Julie Bishop for a few months that won’t be a bad thing.”

While Garrett’s bandmates weren’t making any political sounds, the music they created was forthright in conviction.

Jim Moginie and Rotsey continually battled in buzzsaw-like guitar duels. Moginie was particularly impressive with his thrashing solo on Stand In Line.

Overall Midnight Oil were tight and having fun, unlike some reformed acts who seem primarily interested in nostalgic fans topping up their superannuation fund.

Halfway through the set the pace slowed for a shaky My Country and When The Generals Talk, which allowed drummer Rob Hirst to step up on lead vocals.

The final 45 minutes was all hits. Beds Are BurningBlue Sky MineForgotten Years and Dreamworld. It was pure sing-your-lungs-out adulation.

It didn’t stop in the two encores with The Dead HeartPower and the Passion, Best of Both Worlds and King of the Mountain.

Hope Estate definitely got the good Oils firing on all cylinders.

Set list:

Redneck Wonderland

Read About It

In The Valley

Stand in Line

River Runs Red



My Country

When the Generals Talk

Short Memory

US Forces


Only the Strong

Put Down That Weapon

Beds Are Burning

Blue Sky Mine

Forgotten Years



The Dead Heart

Power and the Passion

Best of Both Worlds

Encore 2:

King of the Mountain


The Newcastle Herald