Midnight Oil
Midnight Oil | Credit: Don Arnold/WireImage (via Getty)

Midnight Oil Perform For Over Three Hours at Final Ever Show

Midnight Oil performed at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion on Monday, 3rd October, wrapping up their final tour with more than three-dozen songs from their 45-year back catalogue. After opening with ‘Lucky Country’ from 1981’s Place Without a Postcard – which sounded about as scrappy and ambitious as the original recorded version – front person Peter Garrett informed the crowd that a long night of music and celebration was ahead.

The band lived up to this promise, with Garrett joined by original members, drummer Rob Hirst, guitarist/keyboardist Jim Moginie and guitarist Martin Rotsey, for a setlist that stretched all the way back to their 1978 debut, Midnight Oil, and included songs from each subsequent release, including 2022’s Resist.

Midnight Oil say goodbye to live performance

Midnight Oil

    Martin Rotsey and Peter Garrett live in Sydney | Don Arnold/WireImage

In front of an audience dominated by men, many of who looked like they’d been Oils fans since the late 1970s, the band delivered one for the diehards, with none of their better known commercial hits appearing until approximately 90 minutes into the show.

They dug deep into their early catalogue, playing two songs from 1978’s Midnight Oil (‘Used and Abused’, ‘Surfing With a Spoon’); four from 1979’s Head Injuries (‘Cold Cold Change’, ‘Is It Now?’, ‘Koala Sprint’, ‘Stand In Line’); two from 1980’s Bird Noises EP (‘I’m the Cure’, ‘No Time For Games’), and three from 1981’s Place Without a Postcard (‘Lucky Country’, ‘If Ned Kelly Was King’ ‘Don’t Wanna Be the One’).

In recent weeks, Midnight Oil performed shows in Melbourne and Sydney during which they performed the entirety of their 1982 breakthrough LP, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Four 10-1 songs made it into the final show setlist, including ‘Only the Strong’, an acoustic version of ‘US Forces’, ‘Read About It’, which closed the main set, and ‘Power and the Passion’, which featured in the second of three encores.

The performance also included selections from 1984’s Red Sails in the Sunset (‘Kosciusko’ with Hirst on lead vocals, ‘Best of Both Worlds’, ‘Who Can Stand in the Way’), 1985’s Species Deceases (‘Progress’, ‘Hercules’), 1987’s Diesel and Dust (‘Beds Are Burning’, ‘Put Down That Weapon’, ‘The Dead Heart’) and Blue Sky Mining (‘Blue Sky Mine’, ‘One Country’ and the show’s final song ‘Forgotten Years’).

Midnight Oil

    Midnight Oil’s Rob Hirst | Credit: Don Arnold/WireImage

Although Blue Sky Mining represents Midnight Oil’s critical and commercial apex, the band demonstrated an affinity with their later releases, carving out time for tracks from 1993’s Earth and Sun and Moon (‘In the Valley’, ‘My Country’, ‘Now or Never Land’) 1996’s Breathe (‘Common Ground’, ‘Surf’s Up Tonight’), 1998’s Redneck Wonderland (‘Drop in the Ocean’) and 2002’s Capricornia (‘Luritja Way’ and ‘Tone Poem’).

Eastern Arrernte and Gurindji man Dan Sultan appeared onstage for a performance of ‘Gadigal Land’ from 2020’s The Makarrata Project, which also saw touring backing vocalist and Alyawarre woman Leah Flanagan come to the front of the stage. As they have done throughout this tour, Adam Ventoura played bass, Liz Stringer performed backing vocals and played acoustic guitar and Andy Bickers was on saxophone.

Midnight Oil also acknowledged their most recent album, Resist, performing ‘At the Time of Writing’, ‘Last Frontier’, ‘Nobody’s Child’ and ‘We Are Not Afraid’. Between songs, Garrett spoke of the urgent need for comprehensive climate action, lambasted ten wasted years under Coalition rule, slammed Scott Morrison for not offering “one positive thing” during his time in power and made a passionate case for not stuffing up the impending referendum on constitutionally enshrining an Indigenous voice to parliament.

He also, curiously, took a dig at post-Bon Scott AC/DC for releasing the same song over and over again, and early in the show was forced to break up a fight among audience members. Speaking of the band’s recent trip to Europe, Garrett reflected on how fragile peace is and how mad men still wield an awful lot of power. “It makes you realise,” he said, “we really do have the best of both worlds here.”

Midnight Oil – ‘Best of Both Worlds’

Further Reading

Midnight Oil Review – Band Sound As Urgent As Ever For Melbourne ‘10-1’ Performance

Midnight Oil: 10 Essential Tracks

Midnight Oil’s New Album ‘Resist’ Hits #1 On ARIA Chart

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