31 December 2019
Photos by Andrew Thompson
As they closed their second encore with a searing rendition of ‘Letter To Alan’ from 1982’s Circus Animals, the cheers from the audience of close to 20,000 who packed into Fremantle Park for the opening date of Cold Chisel’s Blood Moon 2020 tour said it all. Chisel are back and they mean business!
‘Top that’ was pretty much Cold Chisel’s exhortation and, if Ian Moss’s beaming grin as he bade farewell to Chisel’s audience last night was anything to go by, they will take some beating.
Early on in their set, Jimmy Barnes had alluded to the band maybe being a bit rusty, given this was the first date of their national tour behind new album, Blood Moon, saying, “If we’re going to get anything wrong, it’ll happen tonight.” What they then gave their audience, comprising everyone from die-hard fans to new converts (the audience ranged in age from those who’ve been there since the 70s to the mulleted three-year old kid who bopped along to every song on his mother’s shoulders), was two hours of Cold Chisel power.
Opening with ‘Standing On The Outside’, tonight’s set balanced newer material with Chisel classics, taking in three tracks from 2019’s Blood Moon: ‘Getting The Band Back Together’, ‘Land Of Hope’ and ‘Killing Time.’ Maybe not quite as many people in the crowd knew all the words to the new songs (give it time), but they sat well alongside the Cold Chisel songs we’ve come to know and love since the early 70s. It was definitely a good idea to get the band back together and having a swag of new material to include in their set has given the band a fresh sense of purpose. This was no bunch of superannuants painting by numbers or setting out on a swansong tour. What Cold Chisel demonstrated tonight was that they remain a viable proposition creatively, rather than just a greatest hits combo.
Cold Chisel have always been the quintessential rock and roll outfit, equal parts danger, musicianship and swagger. The danger is a bit different now. They’re not young punks anymore, threatening to make it all kick off from the stage at any moment. But experience and a little bit of age brings with it a different type of danger. So, when Barnsey, now an elder statesman of Aussie rock and a cultural icon, introduced ‘Flame Trees’ with a reference to the “troubled times” we’re living in, people listened. His words of introduction, and tonight’s interpretation of what has to be the best lyrical rendition of small-town Australia since Kenneth Slessor was penning paeans to the outback, gave different weight to a song that’s lived in the hearts of quiet and not so quiet Australians seemingly for ever. They may not be about to tear apart the room any more, but they can shift sentiment with a few words. Cold Chisel remain dangerous.
As for the musicianship, they’ve still got it. Tonight, Chisel were led from the back by Don Walker, who said nothing all night but was a strong presence behind his keyboard rig, emblazoned with the words, ‘Beware Of The Dog’. But the limelight was held by Ian Moss — one of Australia’s and the world’s tastiest guitarists who can pull shapes like the best of them —and, of course, Jimmy Barnes.
That’s where the swagger comes in, Barnsey belting out Cold Chisel songs with a voice that remains as powerful and as distinctive as ever, stalking the stage like an attack dog that’s just been let off the leash and is looking for its first meal of the day. He prowls like the stage is only just big enough to contain him and, when he started to monster his mic stand, towards the end of the set, half the crowd began to have flashbacks to the time Cold Chisel smashed up the stage at the Countdown Awards. The other half of the crowd were urging him on.
So, yes, we had a bit of nostalgia. We sang along so hard that there’ll be 20,000 very quiet Australians tucked away in homes across Perth and Western Australia today. And, we looked to the future, partly because Chisel’s set last night crossed the divide between decades and helped us kick off 2020 just right. Although, I don’t think anyone cared too much about the New Year’s countdown, they just wanted the band to keep on playing.
Last night was the first date of a 15-date national tour. Based on the form Cold Chisel showed, those dates that aren’t already sold out will do so quickly. So, beg, borrow, do what you have to, but plunk down some money so you can be there for what may very well be the live show of the 2020s.
Of course, Cold Chisel’s Blood Moon 2020 tour doesn’t just feature Cold Chisel. Across the 15 dates you’ll get the chance to see an undercard of Aussie bands and artists the likes of which is rarely assembled in the one place. Last night’s date at Fremantle Park was no exception with support from West Aussies Carla Geneve, Southern River Band, Gyroscope, Jebediah and Birds of Tokyo.
Even without Cold Chisel, that line up would have drawn a big crowd. By booking those bands to play alongside them, Cold Chisel paid their respects to already established acts and ushered in the next generation in Carla Geneve and Southern River Band. The result was a glimpse of what’s yet to come and a confirmation of the greatness of we already have.
Carla Geneve played set that was fierce and powerful. Her stature as a live performer is already way beyond her years in the game. She is definitely an artist to watch.
Southern River Band regaled the growing crowd with their take on Aussie boogie rock, and showed that they already have diehard fans who will follow them anywhere. Will 2020 be their breakthrough year to national prominence? Who knows? But hope springs eternal.
The established bands then took the stage, each bringing energy to an audience that continued to swell in numbers and grow in their appreciation for what was happening up on stage.
Gyroscope’s first outing with new drummer, Simmy Dreja, showed that they’ll continue to be a force to be reckoned with for as long as they want to keep making music and performing live. They hit it right between the eyes, like they always do.
Jebediah then revved up the audience with their post-adolescent punk still working beautifully after 20-plus years. There’s a lot to like about these suburban Aussie larrikins and they never fail to bring the goods.
Birds of Tokyo then brought their melodic, FM radio friendly rock to the stage and, led by charismatic front man, Ian Kenny, pretty much owned the audience for the 60 minutes they were up there.
What a way to kick off a new decade! ‘Top that’ was pretty much Cold Chisel’s exhortation and, if Ian Moss’s beaming grin as he bade farewell to Chisel’s audience last night was anything to go by, they will take some beating.