Midnight Oil returns and rocks The Wiltern to the core!
Midnight Oil – The Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, CA 5/25/2017
It’s been 15 years since the Aussie rockers Midnight Oil toured in America or anywhere else for that matter. Actually it’s been that long since they were together as a band after lead singer Peter Garrett left the band to pursue a career in Australian Government. It really seemed as though they may never return to the stage. But never say never. All of the original members have stayed friends over the years and the band have now reformed and are on their 2017 Great Circle World Tour.
The tour made it’s way into Los Angeles, California on Thursday night to the Wiltern Theatre. The crowd was pumped, everywhere you turned all people were talking about was how excited they were to see Midnight Oil, some for the first time, but the crowd was definitely old school and full of fans that have seen them back in the day. The vibe was electric for sure, and the crowd was made up of pretty much the die hard Oils fans.
As the lights dimmed and a brief electronic into played as the band made their way to the stage to thunderous applause. Waisting no time the band tore into the twangy electric psycho-billy title track from 1998’s “Redneck Wonderland”. Peter Garrett with unhinged quick jerky movements enraptured the crowd. They were back!
The band followed the opener with a tight and intense version of “Read About It” from 1982’s ’10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1’. They seemed right at home, and the crowd was absolutely loving it.
Always the political and environmental activists that the Oils and in particular front man Peter Garrett spoke out freely several times during the night against Donald Trump, the environment, refugees and even gave time to reflect on recent terrorist events in Manchester by asking the crowd for 1 minute of silence for the victims and those directly affected. After which the band played a heartfelt and deep version of “Put Down That Weapon” from their 1987 masterpiece ‘Diesel and Dust’. Peter Garrett also commented on terrorist groups that have been trying so hard to break spirits and cause people to live in fear by saying that we must not live in fear and succumb to the wishes of the evil.
The band has been mixing up their setlist every show, there are a few that are definite, but the cool thing about a band like Midnight Oil is they have been around since the late 70’s and have quite a body of work. Some bands have a standard show they play every night and follow that formula. Not the Oils. It’s as if no time has passed and these guys can play any of their songs from their extensive catalogue. Midway through their set the band resisted their 1993 classic ‘Earth and Sun and Moon’ by playing three songs in a row from it, including “In The Valley”, ‘Truganini’ and ‘My Country’ which featured a piano only from multi instrumentalist and key songwriter Jim Moginie with Peter Garrett on vocals and followed with the rest of the band on chorus. Which brings up another great fact about this band is that all the chaps have pretty great voices and the vocal power when they are all forming these amazing chorus sounds is pretty remarkable.
Dipping even deeper into their catalogue the band did a killer version of “When The Generals Talk” from 1984’s ‘Red Sails in the Sunset’. The amazing Rob Hirst held down the funky beat as the swirling guitars of Martin Rotsey sent the crowd into a frenzy. Another huge standout from the same album on this night was ‘Kosciusko’, the melody sounded amazing and the crowd sung along. Very cool!
Speaking of singing along, a really awesome moment happened when the band started toying around with what started to shape up to be “The Dead Heart” from ‘Diesel and Dust’. As the crowd picked up the rhythm they suddenly formed a chorus for the opening “Da Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Do Doo”, and it sounded amazing! What do you follow up your second biggest hit with? You guessed it, their biggest, the larger than life version of “Beds are Burning” did not disappoint. It’s just one of those songs that makes you wanna dance. And by this point the crowd was on their feet, even the ones in the seats upstairs got up as the band ripped into a shredding version of “Blue Sky Mine”. The main set closed with a personal favorite, “Dreamworld”, nothing had slowed down Peter Garrett as he pogo glided all over the stage to a ravenous crowd wanting more.
The band reemerged to the stage to do a beautiful version of “Arctic World” as Peter Garrett sat on stage crossed legged front and center to preach through music about the environment. Following in form the second encore “Warakurna” was also from ‘Diesel and Dust’, it made a nice pair of songs from one of their best. For the last of a trio of encore songs the band did a rocking “Forgotten Years” from 1990’s ‘Blue Sky Mining’ album.
The crowd was so pumped, they clapped, hollered and wailed for one more and they got it. The band returned to the stage for a second encore. They decided to go back to almost the beginning with their underground favorite “Power and the Passion”. It was a perfect cherry on top for a great and memorable show. Definitely a show you won’t forget anytime soon. The band is going to finish the first leg of their tour and will return to LA in August for a show at The Greek Theater. If you have the opportunity do not miss this important and vital band for the ages.