Sunday, May 14, 2017

Midnight Oil at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Guitarist/keyboardist Jim Moginie and drummer Rob Hirst formed a rock trio in 1971 while still in high school in Sydney, Australia. They took the name Farm in 1972 and played covers of hard rock songs. Looking to expand their line-up, the three musicians placed a classified ad in 1975, and university student Peter Garrett became their new vocalist and synthesizer player. They wrote original songs, and Garrett began introducing progressive rock elements. In 1977, Farm added guitarist Martin Rotsey, and became a full-time pub-rock band called Midnight Oil. New Zealander Bones Hillman replaced two former bassists in 1987. Midnight Oil (also known informally as "The Oils" to fans) achieved international success for its driving hard-rock sound, intense live performances and political activism, particularly in aid of anti-nuclear, environmentalist and indigenous causes. After 11 studio albums, Garrett pursued political ambitions in 2002 and Midnight Oil disbanded. After a decade in politics, Garrett withdrew in 2013 and wrote a memoir, Big Blue Sky, that triggered his first solo album in 2016 and also reunited Midnight Oil. With no new recorded work, Midnight Oil's current tour promotes several box sets of back-catalogue songs, released on May 5, 2017.

Midnight Oil prepared for the Great Circle 2017 World Tour by rehearsing nearly 170 songs. This meant that over the two nights at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom, the band played two distinct sets, with only a few songs overlapping. The second night's set perhaps dug a little deeper, including two songs that had not yet been performed on the tour. The high energy performance was a whirlwind of primal rock and roll firepower, while the two guitarists traded leads and the rhythm section's hard and rapidly pulsing patterns repeatedly punctured the atmosphere like an automatic weapon. The tall and lanky Garrett jerked fiercely to the cadence as the band ripped. The songs often carried powerful messages, and Garrett's strong vocals served them justice. The band provided a few softer moments, but even an acoustic harmony-filled version of "Koskiusko" was louder than really necessary. These dates were Midnight Oil's first performance in New York in about 20 years, so the band gave the fans the hard-hitting and memorable show they anticipated.

Midnight Oil will perform at Terminal 5 on August 21. In the meantime, visit the band at www.midnightoil.com.

Setlist
  1. Progress
  2. Redneck Wonderland
  3. Tone Poem
  4. Truganini
  5. No Time for Games (tour debut)
  6. Shakers and Movers
  7. Only the Strong
  8. River Runs Red
  9. Read About It
  10. My Country
  11. US Forces
  12. Kosciusko (Acoustic)
  13. Put Down That Weapon
  14. King of the Mountain
  15. The Dead Heart
  16. Beds Are Burning
  17. Blue Sky Mine
  18. Dreamworld
Encore:
  1. Whoah (tour debut; first time played since 1994)
  2. Say Your Prayers
  3. Forgotten Years
Encore 2:
  1. Hercules