[LIVE REVIEW] Jimmy Barnes & Friends @ McCabe Park, Wollongong 11/02/2018

After a tyre blow out on the freeway and a quick change of tyres and cars, I set off on my drive from Sydney to Wollongong, in great anticipation of the Jimmy Barnes Festival, hosted by Yours & Owls.

I managed to secure a parking spot, a short 10 minute walk from McCabe Park, where the days festivities, were being held.

Unfortunately, due to my earlier incident, I missed the 2:30pm opening act, “Mental As Anything“.

As I walked through the gates, I was overwhelmed by the crowd of people, that had gathered to enjoy the days line-up. An estimated 5000 people were moving all about the park, looking for an unobstructed, comfortable spot, to watch the show.

I joined a queue, to grab a bite to eat and grab some cold water, for the duration of Diesel’s set.  I enjoyed the change that Diesel had given his songs, slowed right down, with an almost blues feel to them.

Food and water finally in hand, I found a place to sit, and was able to enjoy a set from Ian Moss. Mossy played some songs from his new self titled CD, that’s due for release in March of this year. He dedicated a song to his nephew in-law and wished him well.

The crowd sang along to some favourites, including “Choir Girl“, “Telephone Booth” “My Baby“, and closed with “Bow River“. Mossy informed the crowd that the ‘Gong and Newcastle were the first places that put on Aussie Rock shows.

He gave a heartfelt thanks and assured his fans that he would never forget them.

During the half an hour change over, I decided to relocate closer to the stage. QueensBohemian Rhapsody” played over the speakers, which sent the crowd in to a singing frenzy.

The atmosphere down the front, was a lot more energetic, than the laid back crowd further back. The sky was turning grey by this time, with the impending threat of rain.

Daryl Braithwaite was up next and I have to say, the biggest surprise of the day for me.

Braithwaite looked fit and in great form. He announced he would be singing some newer songs, and songs that go back to the “Sherbet” period. Braithwaite’s voice was just as I remember it. He definitely still has it, even after all these years.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear “Howzat” and “You’ve Got The Gun“, dating back to the Sherbet days.

It was great to see younger fans sporting a Daryl Braithwaite T-shirt and getting amongst the older fans. The crowd sang along and danced to popular hits, such as “As the Days Go By” and “One Summer“. Braithwaite even covered a Kinks song “All Day And All Of The Night“, which was well received. Braithwaite chose to close his set with “Horses“. It was at this moment, people from the back of the park, raced forward toward the stage, to take part in singing the famous song. 

For the duration of the song, everyone sang in unison. Strangers, arm in arm, swaying along, with a massive smile on their faces. I think it’s safe to say that any glitches from earlier in the day, had now been forgotten and everyone was enjoying themselves.

Another half an hour break, day turning in to night, and Jimmy Barnes was due to hit the stage. I turned around to look at the crowd, as far as the eye could see, everyone was now out of their seats, up off their rugs and standing, waiting for Barnesy to grace us with his presence. We didn’t have to wait too long, Barnesy took to the stage with his band, including his son Jackie on drums, his daughters Elly-May, Eliza-Jane and Mahalia, as well as his stunning wife Jane, on backing vocals.

For the next hour and a half, I was taken back to my youth, as  Barnsey belted out all the favourites, such as “Die To Be With You“, “Ride The Night Away“, “Working Class Man“, “Merry Go Round“,”Khe Sanh“, “No Second Prize“, “Flame Trees” and “Driving Wheels“.

Not even the short burst of rain, could wipe the smile off my face – Barnsey proclaiming that he had scared the rain off. Barnesy threw in a cover of AC/DC’sHigh Voltage“, during his encore, and ended the festival with “Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye)“.

The festival concluded at 9:30pm, with the thousands of patrons all rushing to the one exit point of the park. Security did extremely well to manage the crowd, which I noticed all throughout the event. Any grievances were dealt with swiftly and appropriately.

I walked out of the gates of McCabe park smiling, feeling content that I had an enjoyable experience.

Review Contributed by Trudy Johnson

GALLERY BY ROGER BROOKS