MUSIC: Midnight Oil – Final Show

Midnight Oil have been my favourite band since I first saw them live at the Stop the Drop Concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in February 1983. I have seen them plenty of times since then, and every time they have confirmed to me why they have become one of Australia’s foremost rock bands. Their live shows are legendary. So when they announced their retirement from playing live shows, “Resist: The Final Tour”, I knew I just had to see as many as I could.

I was fortunate to see them on September 12th, 2022 at the Palais Theatre in St Kilda when they performed their classic album 10,9,9,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 in its entirety.

Midnight Oil – One for the planet

Then 2 nights later I saw them again where they played a special extended set of Oils classics from every era.

Midnight Oil – One for the road

Because I was seeing them across twice across three days at the same venue, it made sense for me to stay in St Kilda rather than making the trek several times from my home in the outer Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. The first show was amazing, and then I worked on the Tuesday from the WeWork in the city.

When Tuesday night came around I found myself alone in St Kilda, and so I ventured out to grab dinner at a local bar. I found a place that had some live music happening (of course) and whilst the artist wasn’t amazing, he was at least not terrible and was belting out loads of tunes to keep the small crowd of 50 or so people entertained. Most entertained appeared to be a large table nearby of around 20 people. They’d clearly been having a good time for a while before I stumbled in to grab a feed and have a few drinks, and it was entertaining watching them belt out the tunes along with the singer/guitarist. Once I had finished my meal (gumbo, it was super tasty) I grabbed another drink and sat back down at my table. A woman from the rowdy table leaned over and apologised on behalf of all her mates, explaining that they were Midnight Oil fans, part of some group from Facebook who travel about seeing as many Oils shows as they can.

“Oh, Powderworkers?”, I said. Her face lit up! “YES!”

I had been a part of that group on Facebook since 2016, and I told her so. “Oh well you have to come sit with us”, she said as she introduced me to everyone. So that was that. What I thought would be a quiet night out turned into a largish drinking session, which moved on from that bar when it closed around Midnight in search of another place to continue drinking (which is clearly what we all needed at that stage of the evening).

St Kilda on a Tuesday night isn’t what it used to be when I was a younger man, and everywhere was shut. Everywhere except for The Cross, that is. I suspect the fella running the place was about to close up as we arrived. He had a small handful of “locals” in the place, and by locals I mean Scottish tourists, it’s a Scot themed bar! I’m not sure what he thought when twenty drunken idiots descended on his quiet Scottish bar, but as with any small business owner, he embraced the opportunity with relish! The drinks flowed quickly, and he was even happy to put on Midnight Oil tunes for us, much to the annoyance of the few “locals” I mentioned earlier. We had a ball.

As we parted ways later that night (morning) we all agreed that we’d meet back at this same bar pre and post concert on the Wednesday.

Powderworkers at The Cross post One for the Road Concert

And we did. We partied just as hard (if not harder) than we had done the previous night, and I was introduced to loads of other Powderworkers who I hadn’t met on the Tuesday. Chatting to all these awesome people, the one question they kept asking of me. “Are you going to the final concert?”.

“You’re a huge Oils fan, if you don’t come, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.”

I hadn’t intended to. It was in Sydney. I didn’t have tickets, and it was sold out. There were plenty of reasons why I couldn’t go. But there was one very good reason why I should, and my Powderworkers friends were keen to convince me. “You’re a huge Oils fan, if you don’t come, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.” They were right of course. And I knew they were right.

Arriving home on Thursday morning, I knew I had to get there, somehow I needed to make it work. But how? I needed buy-in from my partner. I needed flights. I needed accommodation. Most importantly of all, I needed tickets! Various Powderworkers peeps had given me pointers on how I might get my hands on some, so I put out the feelers. Fortunately for me some tickets became available. A UK based Powderworker, Paul, was unable to make the trip from the UK, and he was looking to sell his tickets. A negotiation happened, and tickets were acquired. I was going!

We flew out the morning before the concert, on October 2nd, and of course there was a Powderworkers event to get to that afternoon. Hosted at the Watsons Bay Hotel, it was great to meet up with many of the people I’d met in Melbourne, and there were loads of others I hadn’t met yet.

A great afternoon turned into an awesome evening, and a good time was had by all.

The day of the final concert began slowly. We walked from our accommodation to a nearby cafe and had some breakfast, before wandering back and having a snooze in readiness for the big night. We were staying a short 30 minute walk from the Hordern Pavillion, so at some point in the afternoon we headed across through the parkland.

The Powderworkers had taken the initiative to give everyone a number, so everyone who arrived was given a number written onto their hand, which designated their position in the queue. This allowed everyone to go across to the pub and get stuck into some pre-show refreshments. I was number 214.

Number 214

Everyone wanted to be as close to the stage as they could, and wanted to be ready when the doors opened to grab the best position.

The early crowd outside the Hordern Pavillion

At 5:30pm they opened the doors and let us all inside. An orderly yet rushed group of the “early birds” made our way to the stage, all hoping to get the best position. I was happy with being several rows deep. Close enough to take it all in, but not getting squashed up against the barriers.

A video showing the early crowd inside the Hordern Pavillion

At 7:30pm the concert began. 40 songs and over 3 and a half hours later, it was over. An immense effort from a bunch of blokes nearing their 70’s, all delivered with the same raw energy they had always bought to the stage.

Peter Garrett and Midnight Oil

I have no idea how they did it, my legs and knees were aching simply from standing for that period, let alone performing. An impressive effort.

The setlist from the final Might Oil concert at the Hordern Pavillion

Afterwards we all headed back across to the bar to wind down and to reminisce about what we’d just witnessed, and what we’d seen this amazing band do over the years. For me it was the culmination of a 39 year love affair with a mighty band. For all of those who convinced me I “had to go”, I thank you.

The Powderworkers post concert with me, far left, refreshment in hand