Cold Chisel Heats Up The Adelaide 500

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  • Friday, 09 February 2018 15:36
Published in Music  
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Cold Chisel headline the Made In SA concert at Adelaide 500 Friday, 2 March. Cold Chisel headline the Made In SA concert at Adelaide 500 Friday, 2 March.

They may have 'left their hearts to the sappers round Khe Sanh', but Cold Chisel will always be one of South Australia's proudest international exports.


The band is heading back home this March and the first thing they'll do when they get into town is headline a special, one-off 'Made In SA' showcase at the Adelaide 500.

The performance will be the band's first in their former home town since the mammoth 2015 'One Night Stand' tour.

“Adelaide was and will always be ground-zero for us, our home turf, our training ground. For better or worse it made us who we are.”

The showcase features both established and emerging South Australian bands and artists that have been hand-selected by Cold Chisel themselves including Kasey Chambers and ascendent rockers Bad//Dreems, with Hana & Jessie-Lee and Donnarumma added as part of Bands On Track programme with Music SA.


Cold Chisel keyboardist and principal songwriter Don Walker expresses great interest in representing South Australian-bred music and the next generation of singer-songwriters who will carry that legacy forward.

“South Australia seems to produce new music fit to do well in the wider world, of many kinds and over quite a few generations. We’re looking forward to headlining an evening of some of the best anywhere, all from here,” Don says.

“It will always be a great honour to represent South Australia. Only one of us, Phil Small [bassist], was born in South Australia but this is where we met and formed Cold Chisel and where we spent some of the most intense and fun years of our youth.”

Frontman Jimmy Barnes adds: “Adelaide was and will always be ground-zero for us, our home turf, our training ground. For better or worse it made us who we are and we’re excited to be going back to play this special ‘Made In SA’ show.

“With so many international artists, and even some Australians, skipping South Australia on their ‘national’ tours, we wanted to put together a concert for the 20th anniversary of this iconic rock & roll weekend that made the State proud.”

Cold Chisel formed in Adelaide in 1973 and went on to become the definitive Aussie pub rock band, responsible for essential and anthemic songs like 'Khe Sanh', 'Flame Trees', 'Bow River' and 'Standing On The Outside'.

Try buying a 'Beer Songs' album that doesn't have at least one Chisel track on it, I dare you. Can't be done.


Their history spans over forty years, nine studio albums – their latest being 'The Perfect Crime' in 2015 – six live records and countless shows all over the world.

Asked about the artists they selected to accompany them for the 'Made In SA' showcase, Don says: “Kasey [Chambers] and her family are old friends of ours, and we admired their musical integrity even before we knew each other. In more recent years we’ve been introduced to Bad//Dreems by their producer Mark Opitz, who produced a lot of our music back when we were the same age they are now.

“We haven’t seen Hana & Jessie-Lee live, but their recordings are sensational and the twangy end of Cold Chisel will be side-stage early to catch what they do. The same with Louis Donnarumma and his bandmates – these guys look like they know what they’re doing and we can’t wait to see them.”

Hana & Jessie Lee (click here to read our 2017 live review of Hana & Jessie Lee) are a dynamic alt-country duo based in Adelaide combining melodic hooks with twangy guitars and they released their debut full-length album 'Southlands' last year.

Donnarumma (click here to read our 2017 interview with the band) are a local trio fronted by titular band leader Louis, and their 2017 debut EP was nominated for a South Australian Music Award last year.


For Cold Chisel's performance at the Adelaide 500, Don tells us they'll be performing from across their vast and extensive catalogue of songs, including classic sing-along favourites and more recent contributions.

Outside of the race track, this may be the only chance Australian fans will have to see Cold Chisel live for the time being. “We’ll play the songs people expect to hear, plus some surprises,” he says.

“Plus we'll play some songs that are specially connected to Adelaide. We aim to rock and we aim to roll. We have no plans beyond the Adelaide appearance; we may not be doing anything for another year or two.”

In true pub-rock style, Cold Chisel also came to epitomise the play-hard-party-hard mantra of rock & roll excess during the '70s and '80s. They were just as admired for their songwriting and dynamic performances as they were notorious for their wild shenanigans.


Last year in an interview with The Guardian, frontman Jimmy Barnes told Jenny Valentish that he spent 40 years drinking himself to death in full public view.

While their legend and music remains immortal, Cold Chisel suffered the loss of longtime drummer Steve Prestwich who died in 2011 just two months before his 57th birthday following surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Although American drummer Charley Drayton has comfortably filled his spot on the stool, it's a space in their hearts that can never really be filled. “We probably never will come to terms with that one,” Don admits.

“Steve’s surviving brothers live around Adelaide with their families and we’ll no doubt be catching up with some of them while we’re there.”

Proving to be more than a collection of greatest hits, Cold Chisel have continued to tour and create new music, releasing their most recent studio album 'The Perfect Crime' in 2015. In December of that year they also completed their massive 'One Night Stand' tour with three 'last stand' shows at Sydney Entertainment Centre prior to the venue's demolition.

Cold Chisel shared a special bond with Sydney Entertainment Centre: opened in 1983, the venue hosted the band's farewell tour, also in 1983, which would be the last time they played together for 15 years.

All this amounts to so much more than history or legacy – the music and identity of Cold Chisel are imprinted on the forefront of our national psyche; they maintain a dominant presence in our cultural fabric as spokesmen for the working class from a time when there was nothing more Aussie than cracking a cold one and cranking the tunes.


In the lead-up to the Adelaide 500 and the 'Made In SA' showcase, Don says the band will be in “training” to make sure they perform at their absolute peak. “We rehearse heavily before we do anything,” he says.

“If we’re going to do one or two songs that we haven’t done for a long time then yes, we have to re-learn them. We don’t need to re-learn the main body of songs that we do, but we have to get match-fit. We always do at least one warm-up show before we do a major appearance.”

Cold Chisel headline the 'Made In SA' showcase at the Adelaide 500 2 March.

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