Psychedelic guitars, costume changes and electro-rock on a grand scale make A Day On The Green one to remember.

Martywillsonpiper WPA beautiful lunchtime at a Queensland winery was further enhanced as a Sean Kelly lead Models brought their various musical styles, including the Caribbean feel of Barbados, to Mt. Cotton. An easy introduction to the day’s line up, they pleasantly entertained the growing crowd.

The Church arrived early with the promise of a longer set, which kept the congregation happy for this mass. As a frontman, Steve Kilbey puts in great effort to help lure you away with his gothic vocals to the dark corners where the music lives. The band create an almost epic wall of sound, mostly due to the interplay of Peter Koppes’ six-string with Marty Willson-Piper’s extra-ordinary psychedelic fret work. The monolithic Reptile lead the way and a feedback laden You Took closed the set from these Australian legends.

Devo WP

Devo look like a mixture of dental hygienists, aging Thunderbirds and party cruise pensioners via their frequent costume changes, as they delivered their unique, spiky, discordant pop. The co-ordinated stage moves and visual smack is evidence of their on going popularity and relevance, their sonic blitz frying some already sun-affected brains. These art rockers have loyal fans, but the message was spreading as it wasn’t just the power domes that were nodding through this enjoyable set. The dazzling computer graphics behind them stating ‘Are we not men? We are Devo!’ getting the teatime audience fully involved, showing these two sets of brothers can still command a crowd, along with an old age pension.

Simple Minds are not so easily described these days. Much of the public have forgotten the early electronic sound influenced by Bowie, Roxy Music and Neu! When pushed, they’ll probably recall the flag waving politicos of the mid eighties. So what do Simple Minds do to stay relevant and, if you’re being generous, so popular? They create an amalgam of all you believe them to be, and become an electro rock juggernaut.

Earlier this year the band toured on the back of a five album box set, 5×5, which contained their first 5 records. The tour was based on 25 songs per night, five from each album. Hardcore fans rejoiced! Fans of the global hits were bemused. But the tour proved a success with fantastic reviews as Simple Minds gained some critical rehabilitation.

The success of this tour, aside from its uniqueness, was due to the incredible work of keyboard player Andy Gillespie and guitar hero and founding member Charlie Burchill, who reconfigured the back catalogue to inject fresh sonic blood as new flesh was applied to old bones.

JK WPThe dramatic intro music plus dimming lights prepared the scene for Simple Minds to launch into Waterfront, the never tiring classic is a call to arms. Its pounding bassline and chiming guitar a green light for the crowd to clap and jump in unison. The throbbing bass becomes a funky groove as Love Song brings back the memories. In 1981, on their first visit to Australia, it was Love Song that set them on the way to their first gold disc, audiences lapping up the bass and rhythmic style so often found in Australia’s domestic rock scene.

Kerr’s stage presence has changed over time too, from the tip toeing, precise movements through to stadium kicks and legs apart singing, he’s warped the two, creating both subtlety and dynamism for his front man credentials. Even at one point considering swinging the mike by its lead. Perhaps the close proximity of backing singer Sarah Brown kept him in check.

The band move between the songs very easily, this seamless flow showcases the consideration of how the show has been put together. This Fear Of Gods, a track of towering menace from Empires and Dance, does side step a few people but those who know the catalogue, and the 5×5 ethos, cheer and sing even louder. It’s a true highlight, with a response suggesting fans don’t wish to wait too long to hear it again.

See The Lights, with its two guitar breaks, nestles surprisingly well between This Fear and Sanctify Yourself, as the band head back into their stadium glory and crowd singalongs. Kerr encouragingly offers the mike to the participating crowd showing a band at their most persuasive as the audience gathers in their collective hands.

Not only does the music finely interweave, so does the band as a whole. Both Burchill and bass player Ged Grimes know how to work the stage, Burchill has enough solos and riffs to take the spotlight while Grimes stalks behind the front pair throwing quiet rock poses. Sarah Brown’s powerful back up vocals, and some female glamour, occasionally steps forward to show her prowess. It’s only poor Mel Gaynor, stuck behind the drum kit, who doesn’t get a moment to share with the fans bar his ‘best rock n roll drummer in the world’ introduction.

As the la la las from Don’t You (Forget About Me) fade, the piston-like intro of New Gold Dream powers in to life, a stone cold classic that bridges those early electro years to when the band strode into the stadiums. In its full blown ethereal beauty on a hot summer’s night, arms are raised to the heavens praising the trance like swirl.Charlie WP

Someone, Somewhere (In Summertime) opens up the encore of the show, which leans heavily on the New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) album. It’s perfectly themed for an Antipodean summer night, as Kerr’s warm, welcoming voice is delivered over a deep, lush soundtrack. This must be what maroon velvet sounds like.

With its big chorus and sky scraping motif, Alive and Kicking gets Jim trading vocals with Sarah up to a fever pitch, the crowd have no choice but to join in. Ghostdancing, with its frenetic opening guitar riff and rapid-fire vocals revs up the crowd again, and the mid-song inclusion of Gloria gets them singing. But it does, however, slow momentum of the main song, weakening its natural climax. But Simple Minds know how to end a performance, each band member in sync riffing, hitting the keys or drums in true stadium style leading to one big ‘pow,’ a blaze of lights and then the band taking a bow to raucous applause.

The positive relationship with the crowd is acknowledgment of Simple Minds who, not only having a loyal following, but have the ability to reign in new fans at the offer of a mike or a searing solo. As the band file off to Roxy Music, Jim stays to take in the view, a sea of the delirious and sunburnt flowing up the hillside. The hot, the sweaty and the hoarse at the front look at each other eyes wide at an energetic finale to a cracking day.

This review also appears at Dream Giver Redux, a Simple Minds fansite.

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