Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sound Relief

I knew it would be a wet day when the sky went black at 10:30 am and the heavens opened up. Thankfully I had a poncho which was the fashion choice of the day amongst the crowd at the Sound Relief Bushfire benefit concert at the MCG yesterday. I arrived as Jet was midway through their set. Once they finished Tash and I located each other in the front arena section as we waited for Melbourne teen Gabriella Cilmi to start. She sang her hit "Sweet About Me" as well as a cover of "Whole Lotta Love." Next on the bill was the first big act of the day, Kings of Leon. The crowd noticeably swelled just as the rain began to fall. Due to the fact they were playing a show later on that evening, they had a short set of four songs and didn't play their biggest here "Sex on Fire" which led to some mumbling in the crowd after they finished.

Next was Melbourne's own songwriting legend Paul Kelly. There were big crowd sing alongs for "Dumb Things," "To Her Door," and the song that mentions the MCG "Leaps and Bounds." Augie March's set started off a bit slow, but picked up at the end with the barnstormer "This Train will be Taking no Passengers" and their bit hit "One Crowded Hour." As the dark clouds came over the arena Tash and I decided to take a food break during Bliss N Eso which was smart because a torrential downpour happened while we were undercover and the stage lost power for a bit. However the rain eased up and the boys were joined by Paris Wells for a song at the end of their energetic hip-hop set.

During breaks between acts we were shown video from the artists performing at the Sydney concert. We got to see snippets from Coldplay (including their collaboration with John Farnham on "You're the Voice"), Hoodoo Gurus, Little Birdy, Josh Pyke, Eskimo Joe, Architecture in Helsinki, You Am I, Icehouse, and The Presets. There were also videos in tribute to the CFA firefighters and of the devastation from the bushfires.

Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson performed a similar set to the one we saw at Homebake and had Troy Cassar-Daley join them for "The House that Never Was." Then is was time for Liam Finn and friends. Liam and EJ Barnes came out and performed "Second Chance" and "Lead Balloon" before calling out the family band- Elroy Finn, Unkle Nick (Seymour) and N-Dog (Neil Finn) for some songs. When "Don't Dream It's Over" started the crowd erupted in cheers and quickly filled the arena for a big sing along. Tim Finn came out to sing "Weather With You" and then Neil finished up with a song dedicated to the firefighters "Better Be Home Soon." It was one of the highlights of the day.

The crowd stuck around for a mellow set by Jack Johnson during which we watched the dark clouds start to come over the stadium again. After he finished the downpour began with much colder rain this time. It continued as Wolfmother took to the stage in front of an excited crowd. I found the set a bit uninspired as Andrew Stockdale is playing the exact same songs from 3 1/2 years ago except with all new band members. I was expecting at least some new material out of them. When they finished there was a joint live feed with the Sydney concert where a video message from Princes William and Harry was aired and a minute of silence held for the victims. Kylie Minogue then appeared on the Melbourne stage and lead everyone in singing "I Still Call Australia Home."

Next it was time for the first big reunion of the night, Hunters & Collectors, who hadn't played together in 11 years. They started their set with "When the River Runs Dry," and played their hits "Do You See What I See?", "Holy Grail," and "Throw Your Arms Around Me" among others. They finished with an encore of one of their earliest songs "The Slab." After the Finn family set in the afternoon Neil and Tim were back on stage with Split Enz. Opening with "Shark Attack" the highlights of the set were "I Got You," "Six Months in a Leaky Boat," "History Never Repeats," and "I See Red."

The final and most anticipated act of the evening was a reunited Midnight Oil featuring current Federal Minister for the Environment Peter Garrett. They began with "Redneck Wonderland" and played their hits "Dreamworld," "Blue Sky Mine," "Beds are Burning," "One Country," "King of the Mountain," "The Dead Heart," "The Power and the Passion," and finished up with "Sometimes." It was an amazing and powerful set to top off a fantastic day of music (despite the weather) and I was proud to be part of the historic 80,000 crowd there at the MCG.

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