New York, NY
August 21, 2017
On a warm Monday evening in late August, Australian rock icons Midnight Oil brought its The Great Circle 2017 World Tour to New York City's Terminal 5. After spending almost ten years (October 2004 through August 2013) as a member of Australia's House of Representatives, lead singer Peter Garret has returned to his rock 'n' roll roots.
The evening's performance was the group's second trip to New York in 2017 (it had played two nights at Webster Hall in May) since reuniting. As with the earlier stops on the tour, the locals were filled with anticipation and excitement. It is not often a band decides to reform and it is even less often that the reunited group delivers a performance that is considered to be in the same league as those from its earlier incarnation. Luckily the reports from May confirmed that Midnight Oil was functioning on all cylinders and that the time off had not diminished lead singer Peter Garrett's voice or the band's potency.
With that in mind, New Yorkers again flocked to the sold-out venue to see and hear the band perform favorites such as "Dreamworld," "Kosciusko," "My Country" and "Truganini" as well as the megahits "Power & The Passion," "Bed Are Burning," "Blue Sky Mine" and "Forgotten Years."
The night's performance began with a strong nine song opening set by fellow Australians, The Living End. The band, which usually headlines, delivered a powerful 45 minute mini-concert of highlights from its twenty year career that included "Second Solution," "Roll On," White Noise" and "Prisoner of Society." The band's tight and rocking set ended with "West End Riot,” during which guitarist Chris Cheney stood on Scott Owen's double bass during the guitar solo to play his guitar solo.
After a short intermission, Midnight Oil (Garrett; guitarist and keyboarist Jim Moginie; guitarist Martin Rotsey; bassist Bones Hillman and drummer Rob Hirst) hit the stage and launched into a powerful version of "Redneck Wonderland." After the second song, "Read About It," Garrett took off his long-sleeved collared shirt. Underneath he was wearing a black t-shirt featuring a drawing of Donald Trump and a bold "You’re Fired!" statement. As one can imagine, Garret, (whether as a member of Parliament or as a private citizen) has never been one to suppress his political thoughts and impressions. In addition to the statement on his t-shirt, he opined to the crowd, "Just think what would have happened if everybody had voted?" and that people should learn from history before "the same things happen again and again...if you don’t learn the lessons of history, you are condemned to repeat the mistakes!"
The evening's biggest surprise was the cover of The Clash's "London Calling" done as a tribute to Joe Strummer on what would have been his 65th birthday. The brawny version of the anthem caught the audience by surprise and brought smiles to the faces of the mostly middle-aged crowd. Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon would have been proud.
The lyrics of "When The Generals Talk" took on added meaning as Garrett sang, "So the General has a purge, cause he wants to win elections." "U.S. Forces" with the "Will you know it, when you see it?" lyric also got quite a rise out of the crowd.
The main set ended with a mighty combination of "Power and the Passion," "The Dead Heart," "Beds Are Burning," "Blue Sky Mine' and "Best of Both Worlds." The five song flurry was beyond powerful. If the audience had been a prizefighter, it would have been knocked-out.
Many audience members thought that the show had ended, but Garrett and the band had other ideas. Midnight Oil returned to the stage. First, Garrett gave an audience member his Trump t-shirt and then the band burned through "Forgotten Years."
Though the band members have aged, they continue to play with the energy and passion (some might say the power) of younger men. Garret, who is now in his mid-60s, ran around the stage and delivered a performance that would have made a frontman half his age jealous. The band played tight and strong. Midnight Oil can still bring it. Let's hope that there will be a new CD in 2018 and that the band will tour behind it.
Photographs by Christine Connallon
Midnight Oil at Terminal 5 - 8/21/17 Setlist: Redneck Wonderland; Read About It; Golden Age; Brave Faces; Short Memory; Heart Is Nowhere; Dreamworld; Truganini; London Calling; Is It Now?; My Country; When the Generals Talk; U.S. Forces; Tin Legs and Tin Mines; Kosciusko; Now or Never Land; Power and the Passion; The Dead Heart; Beds Are Burning; Blue Sky Mine; Best of Both Worlds Encore: Forgotten Years