Live Earth gig review + existential crisis #87

I banged out a gig review of Live Earth and sent all 1104 words (they’d definitely have to edit it down to about 700 words – it’s impossible editing your own work) to street press mag the Drum Media with the request and thanks that if deemed worthy, the review would be published in the upcoming issue. Now I read a fairly mediocre review in my copy of said issue of the Drum, critiquing an event that, despite its commercial nature, did not really cover the critiques that came with reviewing.

I feel a profound sense of inadequacy, possibly due to my ability to be over-anxious when it comes to not achieving what I’ve set out to do. That coupled with my present anxiety over not hearing any response from USYD about my Masters application, which will eventuate into an overwhelming (and unnecessary) sense of worthlessness means that I am one very tightly wounded individual right now.

But of course, this is just me feeling wounded at not being published so really, don’t listen to me. Such is the self-indulgence and narcissism that comes with blogging YAY.

My review is below for you to make up your own mind.

———————————–

LIVE EARTH – 07.07.07

With climate change warm in the air, the day was not without a sense of trepidation as the cream of the Australian music crop came together to raise awareness on this most pressing issue in our modern world. I mean, with Al Gore’s stamp of approval, any excuse for a concert right?

An Aboriginal performance paid homage to the nation’s indigenous roots before Blue King Brown opened the bill with an energetic set to wake the early Saturday morning punters trickling into the Oval A and B sections. There was a little more action in the stadium when Toni Collette and The Finish took the stage. Now I haven’t always been a fan of Ms Collette, save for her performance in Muriel’s Wedding, but her band wasn’t half bad. Despite the highlight being her cover of T. Rex’s Children of the Revolution, she carried a firm stage presence. Her songs failed to stir any particular interest in me however – blandness reigned.

The epic food lines at the stalls scattered around the innards of the stadium had me clutching my poor excuse for a pizza as I ran to catch the remnants of Sneaky Sound System. Bridging the gap between indie and mainstream, they made the most of their measly twenty-five minute set, momentarily transforming the stadium into a club house, albeit a very open spaced one. Soon after, The Ghostwriters performed a solid set as Rob Hirst took the stage, unleashing original songs and a classic Midnight Oil number, When The Generals Talk.

Paul Kelly got the crowd going with a gorgeous rendition of From Little Things, Big Things Grow as Missy Higgins and John Butler took the stage earlier than scheduled to support the man himself – a definite highlight. Soon after, Eskimo Joe donned their pretentious mainstream coats and took the stage with yet another lack-lustre and tightly rehearsed set, opening with crowd-pleaser From The Sea and ending with the commercial earworm that is Black Fingernails, Red Wine. In a set riddled with new tracks (hate to break it to you boys, but a little Sweater every now and then won’t tarnish those skinny jeans of yours), frontman Kav Temperley renounced London Bombs as a political song. But the political nature of the event itself was already tangible in the air. Regardless, the punters soaked it in and onward we swayed.

The darling of the Australian music scene Missy Higgins bounded on the stage for the second time that day, shooting off tracks from her new record, intercepting The Wrong Girl and Where I Stood with sing-a-long renditions of The Special Two and Scar as her gentle though formidable stage presence was felt. John Butler Trio took the stage, sending the crowd into a dancing frenzy as he punched out a solid performance of Zebra before riffling off Funky Tonight and an undeniably joyous Better Than. He spoke to the audience of looking after Mother Earth (as if we needed reminding) before launching into Treat Yo Mama with lute in tow and a mind-blowing drum solo by percussionist Michael Barker.

The inexorable juggernaut that is Wolfmother unleashed a solid and tight set to a somewhat unworthy crowd. One punter suggested the lack of enthusiasm to the way in which moshing generated heat, and that such refrain would serve as an example to the cause. Indeed, it seemed that green was definitely the taste of the day as Andrew Stockdale held up his double-necked guitar proclaiming, ‘We used just one tree to make two guitars!’ much to the puzzled punters.

In what may very well have been his only gig of the year, tourist Jack Johnson strolled onto the stage with a certain humility and laid-back attitude before strumming an almost crowd-led rendition of Times Like These. Visibly amused by such antics, Mr Johnson teased the audience with ‘I bet you know the words to this next one’ as the opening chords of The Horizon Has Been Defeated guaranteed instant transportation to a tropical island of punter choice. Interspersing older tracks with his newer ones, the crowd was giddy with excitement as they sang along to Gone, a track unfortunately made famous by the ubiquitous Black Eyed Peas.

The screens on either side of the stage occupied the time between sets, interlacing short films that pushed the climate change and water/energy/oil/methane-saving message via Cate Blanchett, Will Ferrell and videos of the eternally annoying Rihanna. Signs brought by the audience, ranging from the hilarious ‘Jack Johnson, have my GREEN babies’ to the downright clever ‘I HEART energy efficient LAMP’, were projected onto said screens for amusement. Then Peter Garrett took the stage to introduce recently reformed headliners Crowded House. Punters cheered for the former Midnight Oil frontman as he put his own green two cents into the bill, telling the crowd that climate change was the biggest issue affecting modern society before dropping the Rudd factor as the crowd shuffled in discomfort. It was almost sad to see a man once revered as rock royalty seemingly weighed down by the political agendas of his party.

Then Crowded House took the stage as the crowd threw their adoration in screams and applause, and let’s face it, tonight was all about them. Neil Finn has become a man one year short of fifty and definitely not one short of rocking out, as he greeted the crowd with a genuine happiness spreading through the lines on his face. And with that familiar opening riff of Locked Out, we were overwhelmingly assured of Crowded House as they once were, at least as much as they are without the late Paul Hester. There was definitely no denying the absence of the drummer that was, but this did not deter the crowd’s raw enthusiasm for the band that formed a big part of the ‘soundtrack to our lives’. Shooting off tracks with a grandiose sing-a-long of Fall At Your Feet and Don’t Dream It’s Over, as well new record offering Silent House, the audience was brimming with nostalgic euphoria, grins and cheers inescapable. The gimmick-free power outage of the tyred backdrop of lights during an ironic Four Seasons In One Day provided a poetic touch to the night; ‘I guess they’re trying to save energy’ replied a surprised Mr Finn. The entire bill took to the stage, including a child-rearing John Butler, to bow out the night with Weather With You, before a Neil Finn-led Better Be Home Soon during the encore.

And so it was, a day (and night) of environmentally friendly and positive green energy as weary punters trudged toward the bus queues and toward Central Station by foot, their heads filled with Orwellian energy saving tactics.

One Reply to “Live Earth gig review + existential crisis #87”

  1. Value, whether for better or worse, is something us as humans cannot accurately measure. All we can ever assume is that those actions that prove good to the world (not actions that improves one's own status) will put one's value above that of those actions prove wrong.I'll leave you with that quote, reminding you that you ARE a good person that has done MANY great things :)Live Earth was rather Meh, mostly because I had to leave early and miss the BIG act. Paul Kelly only stood out due to the glorious sing-along. Missy and JBT were better the day before at the Opera House, albeit that it was practically a private performance (Heck, JBT even incorporated our Make Poverty History chants into their songs!). Eskimo Joe, for better or worse, still need the Enmore or the Annandale, as well as at least one song off "Girl" to be fully enjoyed. Wolfmother struggled with a poor PA system. And I was moping all the way through Jack Johnson (don't ask). And let's not forget the logistical nightmare it was, or the fact that it was the most hypocritical event to hold to promote energy conservation.I was in the big, loud group chanting on the western side of the stadium, all in black shirts. We did that because Making Poverty History is actually achievable, through governemnt mobilization and contribution, compared to forcing concert goers to suddenly switch off their electrical appliances. Now I'm being evil, but hey, that me! 🙂

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