The Hastings foreshore, an hour’s drive southeast of Melbourne, was the first Under The Southern Stars of a national tour that showcases some of the best Aussie rock from the past four decades – ‘80s, ‘90s, noughties and now!
It was common to see mums with daughters and dads rocking out with sons as parents shared their youth with their kids and vice versa.
You couldn’t have asked for a better day to pull up a camp chair or picnic rug and settle in for eight hours of home-grown tunes under clear skies with the bay behind us.
The hardest set on any festival is the opening act. While punters were slowly filtering in and finding their patch of grass, indigenous singer-songwriter Scott Darlow set the Aussie tone with his proud Yorta Yorta heritage and a didgeridoo. Sorry is a powerful song for reconciliation and haunting with the didge, but the day’s first singalong’s started with Darlow’s covers of Goanna’s Solid Rock, and Dragon’s Rain that he recorded with Superjesus’s Sarah McLeod, Adam Brand, Jack Jones and Dragon’s Todd Hunter to raise funds for drought relief.
The Getaway Plan brought the crowd to the stage and fan favourites Where The City Meets The Sea and Shadows. Diminutive frontman Matthew Wright’s powerful vocal range touched base with the ‘90s-style rock from their albums Other Voices, Other Rooms and Requiem.
With the crowd loosening up British India stepped up the guitar pop-rock, with a borrowed bass from their old schoolmates The Getaway Plan. Both bands grew up in the area and there was a lot of local love for them
British India’s hits such as Suddenly, Wrong Direction, I Thought We Knew Each Other, I Can Make You Love Me, and My Love, from the most recent album Forgetting The Future, had the crowd heading to the stage and the party was well and truly started.
If British India had fired up the guitar pop, The Superjesus gave us the heavy rock. Sarah McLeod is, unfortunately, the only female voice on the tour but what a presence!
The hard-rocking four-piece cranked up the sound and opened with Down Again. Other favourites followed – Secret Agent man, Shut My Eyes – but praise is deserved for their metal version of Kylie Minogue’s Confide In Me.
They closed with Gravity and McLeod worked the crowd into two parts to singalong to their much-loved hit.
By now the audience was settled in, sun-soaked and well-watered.
Eskimo Joe are tight, but they scaled back on Superjesus’ heavy for their radio-friendly rock and put on a great show perfect for a late sunny afternoon. It was flawless as the WA band offered up Sarah, Foreign Land, Love Is A Drug, and their biggest hit Black Fingernails, Red Wine. From The Sea ended their set.
Next up was You Am I, who could be seen waiting on the sidelines enjoying Eskimo Joe. Known for his flamboyant outfits, the sartorial Tim Rogers and lead guitarist Davey Lane led the band on stage sporting kimonos. More a lounge outfit than rock, but that didn’t stop Timmy and co ripping through their 30 years of hits. Sound As Ever, Heavy Heart, Cathy’s Clown, Who Put The Devil In You, Good Morning, Mr. Milk and lounge version of Heavy Heart with Lane’s electric guitar added ticked all the boxes for fans.
They may be pushing 50-years old now, but that didn’t stop a female fan on the older side of 40 attempting to join Timmy on stage. Fast-acting security nabbed the fan in time and carried her away to the amusement of front row revelers.
Rusty Hopkinson and Andy Kent are the engine room, but the show belongs to Rogers and Lane – the class clowns that add the on-stage antics.
Berlin Chair, which will never get old, ended the set with the band leaving the stage to wonderful wailing of feedback and audience salivating for the headliners to hit the stage.
Hoodoo Gurus are rock royalty in Down Under and there’s not one song on their setlist that the audience couldn’t sing along to. Such was the enthusiasm that when Dave Faulkner asked the audience to be quiet for the start of 1000 Miles thousands of voices joined in, much to his amusement. The Gurus are loud live, and with guitarist Brad Shepherd the powerhouse of the band, unmistakeable Hoodoo hits such as Miss Freelove, Bittersweet, Like Wow – Wipeout and were cranked up.
Hit after hit followed as they worked through their albums from the early ‘80s to ‘90s – Come Any Time, My Girl, Axegrinder, and finishing up their encore with What’s My Scene.
The Under The Southern Stars heads to Queensland this weekend for two dates before taking in Adelaide, Shoalhaven and wrapping up in Port Macquarie.
The festival has a great line-up and there appears to be a good camaraderie among the touring bands with many seen enjoying each other’s sets from the sidelines before after their own show.
Pack a picnic and check it out.
Information for the remaining shows can be found at Under The Southern Stars website.
Review Contributed by Daron Jacks