One of rock’s more politically minded acts, Midnight Oil emerged from a 15-year hibernation earlier this year for a well-received world tour that's now nearly at its conclusion.
It’s no coincidence that the tour comes at a time when far-right movements have shaken the foundations of democracy in many countries, something that certainly isn’t lost on band.
Last night before a near-capacity crowd at House of Blues, singer Peter Garrett, an activist who was once Australia’s Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, delivered a strong anti-Trump message while leading the band through an engaging two-set that dug deep into its extensive back catalog that dates back to the late 1970s.
The group opened the show with “Redneck Wonderland,” the hard-driving title track from its 1998 album. With his signature shaved head and animated movements, the lanky Garrett, who’s 64, gyrated with an energy that belied his age. With the line “time to take a stand,” the song set the tone for the concert.
The group followed “Redneck Wonderland” with “Read About It,” a fiery song that found Garrett practically rapping as the audience clapped along with the mid-temp song’s melody. “Sell My Soul” had a quiet intensity to it, and the band performed “Bedlam Bridge" under deep red lights, giving it an eerie feel.
“Koala Sprint,” a song from the 1979 EP Head Injuries
, benefited from a lacerating guitar riff as Garrett made references to Aussie surf culture. It segued into “Truganini,” a bluesy number that found Garrett playing harmonica at its start. The pounding percussion and beefy guitar riffs gave the song a real swagger as Garrett whispered “and the world won’t stand still" over and over. After playing the tune, Garrett praised the United States for being “the country that got democracy right for the first time.” But he would later rail against President Trump, whom he referred to as an "idiot" that must be removed from office because he poses such a huge threat to both the U.S. and other countries. By set's end, he would change into a “Dump Trump” T-shirt.
After an acoustic set that featured renditions of tunes such as "My Country” and “U.S. Forces,” the band plugged back in for a driving rendition of “Brave Faces.” Playing a litany of hits at the 22-song set’s conclusion, the band had the audience on its feet for a simmering rendition of “The Dead Heart,” a tune propelled by heavy drums and a bit of trumpet.
Garrett frantically paced the stage during “Beds Are Burning,” probably its biggest hit, and he stood atop the drum riser to play harmonica at the start of “Blue Sky Mine.”
The inspiring three-song encore included “Now or Never Land,” “Forgotten Years” and the Clash-like “Power and the Passion,” a tune that found drummer Rob Hirst emphatically hammering away at a giant oil drum while Garrett emphatically sang, “better to die on your feet than live on your knees" and appropriately brought the show to a close with a call to take action.