Red Hot Summer Tour lived up to its name in Sandstone Point’s 33-degree heat (9 February), yet the scorching sun and thick humidity were no deterrent to thousands determined to rock.
Chocolate Starfish kicked off by serving a slice of Meatloaf. As 'Bat Out Of Hell' powered through the speakers, frontman Adam Thompson worked the stage, engaging an audience still setting up chairs and picnic blankets.
Their set consisted mostly of highly polished covers, including 'You’re So Vain', which propelled them to success in the early '90s. Their original track, 'Mountain', was lesser known by the assembled masses, but demonstrated their technical prowess.
The highlight was their cover of 'What’s Up?' by '90s one-hit wonder 4 Non Blondes. Its familiar chorus of “I said 'Hey, what’s going on?'” was perfectly suited to audience participation and Thompson did his best with the crowd as they trickled in.
Chocolate Starfish - image © Pixels and Spice Photography
Next in line was Richard Clapton. At 67, it’s great to see him still out there, playing to appreciative audiences big and small.
He began his set with 'Dancing With The Vampires', his nod to Charlie Sheen and a life of partying. His 1975 hit 'Girls On The Avenue' was more familiar to the audience and as the beers and bubbly started to flow, the crowd began to sing-along.
He rounded out his set with 'Deep Water', the rollicking riffs of 'Distant Thunder', and 'I Am An Island' building to a huge crescendo, inspiring the 60-somethings in the crowd with his boundless energy.
Richard Clapton - image © Pixels and Spice Photography
Just after 4pm, Diesel hit the stage immediately proving why he’s remained so active and admired since his '90s heyday. Fused with rough-edged blues, his powerful voice alternated between bruised and soulful, aggressive and powerful, exploring every nuance in between.
The energy kicked in with 'I Don’t Need Love', in which he incorporated some deft slide guitar – cementing his reputation as a singer who can really wield an axe. He slowed things down with his hit love song 'Come to Me', adding a country-style bridge with virtuosity reminiscent of Chet Atkins.
The crowd’s vocal chords were given a workout with 'Tip Of My Tongue', as was the wah pedal. The song’s big solo gained appreciative nods from the guitar aficionados as they quietly sipped beers in the sun.Click here for more photos from the concert.
Taking the improvisational spirit of blues to the extreme, Diesel ended his set with a 20-minute rendition of 'Cry In Shame'. As it finally wrapped, the throng showed their appreciation with an almighty roar.
As the shadows lengthened, The Living End burst onto the stage with 'Second Solution'. By this time the moshpit was thick, as sweaty bodies pressed together for a slice of the punk rockabilly action.
While the double bass was fingerpicked to perfection and the drums pounded like a jackhammer, frontman Chris Cheney whipped the crowd into a frenzy. This trio has been rocking for a quarter of a century, and their energy seems no signs of abating.
The Living End - image © Pixels and Spice Photography
Giving punk showmanship an Aussie touch, Chris used a VB bottle to play slide guitar, beer splashing his strings as an appreciative crowd egged him on.
'Bloody Mary', 'All Torn Down', and 'White Noise' had the pit jumping, though the highlight was the audience participation during 'Wake Up', when Chris successfully coached the blokes to sing one melody, while the ladies sang another. The result was harmonious in both senses of the word.
Chris implored the still-seated fans to embrace the festival spirit, referencing the late Angels’ great Doc Neeson as he urged them to “Stand up!”. The crowd now largely on their feet, The Living End wrapped their set with their big hit 'Prisoner Of Society', building to a huge finale as the sun dipped below the horizon.
Still touring after all these year, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts were the first to perform after sunset.
Incredibly youthful for 60 in skin-tight black spandex, Jett rocked out on the guitar while she belted 'Do You Wanna Touch Me There (Oh Yeah)'. Their pace was unrelenting. Rarely slowing down to allow the audience to rest, they ripped through 'Soulmates To Strangers', the Springsteen cover 'Light Of Day', and 'Fake Friends'.
The only respite from the fast-tempo onslaught was during 'Crimson And Clover’s slower verses, but sure enough, that didn’t last long, and they soon kicked back into high gear.
'I Hate Myself For Loving You' and 'I Love Rock n Roll' rounded off an impressive set which should inspire up-and-coming bands a quarter of their age.
Joan Jett - image © Pixels and Spice Photography
By the time headliner Jimmy Barnes hit the stage, the standing area of the crowd was packed like sardines and bristling with excitement.
The Aussie icon kicked off with 'I’m In A Bad Mood', backed up by three singers, three guitarists, a keyboardist and a drummer. Barnesy’s vocal chords are a scientific marvel. With every syllable seemingly screamed at full force, his pained expressions and kid-who-drank-too-much-red-cordial presence kept the audience engaged and excited.
Belting out plenty of favourites, plus some new material from his latest album, 'My Criminal Record', the crowd’s response was predictably most enthusiastic during the hits.
With a mixture of his Cold Chisel and solo artist repertoire, he worked his way towards 'Flame Trees', 'Khe Sahn', and a cracking rendition of 'Working Class Man' before thanking the crowd, and disappearing off stage for the customary encore.
Jimmy Barnes - image © Pixels and Spice Photography
After thousands of boisterous voices urged them to return, they delivered another serve of classic Oz Rock, fittingly wrapping up with 'Goodbye', Barnesy cementing his reputation as an all-time great.
As the revellers made their way back to their cars, and the clean-up crews began their long job ahead, Red Hot Summer proved that 60 is the new 20.