Our Review Of Midnight Oil's First Melbourne Gig

The Oils!

Our Review Of Midnight Oil's First Melbourne Gig Image: Getty

My name is Rosemary, I’m 41 and I’ve never seen Midnight Oil. UNTIL NOW!

I’m not even sure how they slipped my gig-going radar but sometimes the most obvious or local bands are the ones you think “Yeah it’ll happen. One day...”

Walking into the Sidney Myer Music Bowl at dusk facing a sea of people, a golden light that was also bathing the MCG and a rainbow, I knew I was in for a special treat.

Snagging seats in the stalls was a blessing and a curse - I was next to and behind some of the drunkest, rowdiest, men on earth but close enough to the stage to be able to see everything really well.

Turns out the band were so exceptional the arm flailing, faux punching, lyric shouting mob were practically over-shadowed, although a few times I did wonder if they’ve ever listened to the lyrics of the songs they shouted word-for-word. Really listened.

Or took note of themes still so sadly prevalent today: Indigenous issues; nuclear weapons; crap politicians (some would say rather ironic considering Pete’s tenure as Federal MP); the degradation of the environment (particularly the Great Barrier Reef).

But whatever, have another Jimmy and Coke and forget your cares lads - it’s Cup Eve! 

Everyone was fizzing by the time the lights and the pre-show music came on for the main act (apologies to Adalita and the Jezabels for my late arrival) and we were smacked around the chops aurally from the very start with Read About It.


Peter Garrett in all his gigantic glory prowling the stage in black pants and black hoodie (hood on) is a halting presence and at age 64 he must be part alien to perform at the level he does for the entire two hours.

Drummer and in some ways Oils co-host, Rob Hirst, must be drinking from the same well and his fitness regime would put footy teams to shame no doubt.


The 22 song setlist gave us everything you wanted to hear plus some delightful gems in Bus to Bondi, No Time For Games and My Country.

Most of us were singing along from the very start right up to the very end, finding it surprising how many lyrics you recall from a very long time ago if you hadn’t been keeping up regular listening.

About 11 songs into the show, during the ‘middle section’ that goes a bit into acoustic mode, with Rob Hirst coming out front too with a brilliant contraption including kick drum, snare and cymbals, an energised Peter Garrett addresses us:

"We're very humbled by the fact that you came out tonight. And it sounds like you want to sing so let’s do it hey…”

Then everyone erupted into US. Forces.

I had been following the Oils vicariously through social media posts on the Great Circle World Tour since leaving for South America in April or March, then suddenly the local shows were upon us and seeing so many posts on Saturday from Hanging Rock I hoped I was going to enjoy last night’s show too.

It met my expectations and exceeded them. Some thirteen hours later writing this I am still on cloud nine, and want to do nothing today but look at photos and watch YouTube clips. 

Midnight Oil play the Sidney Myer Music Bowl November 8 and 15 - DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO GET TO THESE SHOWS!




Read About It

Don't Wanna Be the One



Section 5 (Bus to Bondi)


Safety Chain Blues

No Time for Games

My Country

When the Generals Talk

Short Memory

US Forces


Now or Never Land


The Dead Heart

Blue Sky Mine

Beds Are Burning

Forgotten Years



Power and the Passion

King of the Mountain


Encore 2:

Best of Both Worlds