With the iconic Hanging Rock as a backdrop, Cold Chisel delivered a rock ’n’ roll masterclass to about 15,000 fans on Saturday night.
Legends of the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart have previously performed at the stunning Macedon Ranges venue, but the sold out show was the first headline appearance by an Australian band.
And who better to lead the local charge than Jimmy Barnes and co?
Cold Chisel helps explains modern Australia – their anthemic tales of working class life speak directly to the soul.
Invoking a truckload of hits from the group’s sizeable back catalogue, with a few quick glances at their new album, The Perfect Crime, they rode on a wave of goodwill from start to finish.
Punters in the seated areas jumped to their feet as guitarist Ian Moss and keys player Don Walker played Standing On The Outside‘s familiar opening notes.
The crowd stayed in their chairs for rockin’ opening sets from The Living End, Hunters and Collectors’ Mark Seymour, and Stonefield.
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“Good place for a picnic”
“Good place for a picnic,” Barnes joked after a stunning one-two punch that also included Circus Animals cut Letter To Alan. It set in a train a momentum that the group sustained with the energy of bands half their age.
Choir Girl sparked the first mass sing-a-long, 17,000 voices, twice as many arms, and plenty of VB tinnies, cast into the chilly air, before Ian Moss took his first vocal turn for the saxophone-laden My Baby.
Penned by bassist Phil Small, it spoke to the strength of Chisel as a band with four genuine songwriters.
Wearing a Cold Chisel T-shirt, The Living End’s Chris Cheney joined the band on stage for a cover of Don’t Let Go, trading searing guitar solos with Moss.
New songs such as The Perfect Crime, the Stonesy country soul of Lost, and bar-room rock of All Hell Broke Lucy were obviously less familiar, but shoulders and hips moved tentatively.
Barnes may only have one gear vocally, but he is the consummate entertainer and the punters lapped up his full-throttle enthusiasm.
Dressed in all black, he was a ball of energy, moving from stage left to right, and then onto the drum riser.
His body heaved to project that unmistakable voice and it cut through the Macedon Ranges chill like a force of nature.
The back half of the set saw the band pull ace after ace from the deck: songs inscribed into the hearts and minds of those that forked out to witness them.
Dancing in the aisles
Flame Trees took on almost hymnal proportions, while last-drinks staple Khe Sanh pulled some of those in the seated areas onto their chairs and into the aisles, much to the dismay of security staff. Bow River, penned by Moss, ended the main set, lifting the crowd to fever pitch.
For the encore, they returned with two tracks written by Steve Prestwich, and new stickman Charley Drayton sported a raglan T-shirt emblazoned with the late drummer’s surname. Tear-jerker ballad When The War Is Over was just that, while Forever Now took on a reflective significance.
Walker and Moss stayed onstage for a spellbinding cover of Georgia On My Mind, before the full band rounded out the night with the reggae grooves of Breakfast At Sweethearts and, fittingly, Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye).
Its last line: “We’re comin’ to the end, there’s nothin’ left to say.”
On a chilly night at the Rock, Cold Chisel proved it has plenty left to say.