NICK BARKER & THE HEARTACHE STATE
Gallery By Vanessa Jarvis
Gallery By Vanessa Jarvis
It was a sold-out show, which is certainly no surprise, Jon Stevens is one of Australia’s most loved musicians (yes, I am claiming him as an Aussie) and the fans turn out time and time again, selling out shows, pledging their allegiance to this rock music legend. As I stepped into The Palms at Crown I was surprised to see a huge early turn out for the support act of the night. Another well-known Aussie singer Nick Barker, and he brought along the Heartache State to play with him. Nick Barker is a name synonymous with pub rock at its finest and has been hitting the bars and clubs for several decades whether it be with The Reptiles or with the Heartache State you are always in for a treat. They gave us a terrific 40 minute set to get us warmed up and were well received by the swelling audience.
Being a fan of Noiseworks since their inception, seeing them first in 1986 I was beyond excited for tonight’s show and the crowd erupted as Jon took to the stage looking super cool decked out all in black. Opening with Welcome to The World the show was off and running and didn’t the fans love it, several ladies in the front row on their feet openly swooning for Jon. Burning Feeling was red hot, Jon’s voice raspy and sexy delivering every word with passion, moving on to Love Somebody which has The Palms rocking. From my seat in the booth I could take in the enormity of the show, not a spare seat to be seen, fans flocking to fill every last spot. Lighting and sound play a huge part of the show and both were amazing, full credit to all the crew they delivered a show of the highest standard, one that you would expect from a big arena. Jon took to the acoustic guitar belting out Simple Man to the fans, myself included relishing in hearing this awesome song. With some people still seated Jon mentioned that “we might be getting older but we aren’t fucking old” so let the music take you and if you want to get up and dance just do it.
After chatting with Jon last week about this tour and his new single Rain Down On Me I was keen as mustard to hear it live and all I can say is WOW! Jon has graciously donated this song to Rural Aid with all the proceeds going to our struggling farmers, such a generous donation and it comes as no surprise that it is currently sitting at No1 on the iTunes charts. If you haven’t purchased it already, what are you bloody waiting for! Our farmers need our help and I can’t think of a better way than buying this awesome song, get on it people. The hits keep coming, Miles & Miles and R.I.P. (Millie) was delivered beautifully, showcasing Jon’s vocal range, still hitting those high notes with ease, and such a fitting tribute to his mother. Voice of Reason had everyone up and rocking in their seats and they stayed upright as Jon and his sensational band smashed out four INXS hits, What You need, Need You Tonight, Kick and Don’t Change. This quartet of smash hits lit up The Palms everyone singing and dancing, some swaying depending on how many ‘refreshments’ they had consumed. This also saw the band showcased with solos from the members giving Jon a moment to catch his breath. Speaking of the band, they were faultless all night, but with Jon being such a compelling frontman that commands your attention I found it hard to give them the time they deserved. So kudos to the band, tight from start to finish, they are a top class act.
Take Me Back was one we knew would be on the list and it didn’t disappoint, the crowd singing back with gusto and while Jon Stevens they weren’t, they gave it a red-hot go. Jon’s undying stamina moved up a cog as he belted out Touch, the fans relishing in this huge hit. Jon’s trademark moves coming out, tucking his foot behind his leg as he leans over the crowd with the mic giving them a chance to belt out the familiar lyrics “Reach out and Touch Somebody”. As Jon and his band left the stage I was certain there were a few more in the tank and it only took a brief moment before they returned to finish out the night. Going way back to 1992 with Jesus Christ Superstar, memories flooding back as I remember watching Jon perform this in the stage show all those years ago. It was the unexpected gem of the night and led into the mega-hit which put Jon and Noiseworks on the map No Lies.
Finishing out the night with a little bit of spice, Hot Chilli Woman was the perfect way to end what was an electrifying night of Aussie rock. Jon Stevens has stood the test of time and is just getting better and better, after the success of his latest album Starlight I am certainly looking forward to the next installment. Keep doing what you do so well and we will keep turning up time and time again. Long live Aussie rock and long live Jon Stevens!
Review Contributed by Cassandra Hale
Coinciding with the Hay Mate: Buy A Bale – A Concert For The Farmers concert, Jon Stevens recently released a charity single, Rain Down On Me, with all proceeds going to help the drought-stricken farmers. Cassandra had a chat with Jon recently about the journey and life on the road.
No stranger to releasing altruistic music for important causes, the plight of the farmers is something that instantly resonated with Jon. Harking from a small farming community in New Zealand that often had its own differing struggles, he feels an affinity with those on the land.
More than two decades ago, when drought was impacting Australia in a big way, Jon released another charity single, with proceeds going towards the farmers. Fast forward to 2018, and when he was asked to be part of the Hay Mate concert, he immediately thought back to a recent song he had penned – Rain Down On Me – and offered it up to Rural Aid for fundraising support.
“I thought, why not give the song to them and see if they can make some money from it,” he says. “That is what you do, you try and help in any way, so I went in and recorded it. My mum grew up on a farm, it is still in my family. This is a song for you, from me.”
Rain Down On Me was penned earlier in 2018 during one of Jon’s songwriting trips to Los Angeles. Recorded with his long-time band, they headed out to rural Victoria to the acclaimed studios Lighthill Sound Recording in Riddles Creek and laid down the track with engineer Ricki Rae. The result is a breathtakingly raw song that shows why Jon Stevens is considered one of Australia’s premier vocal talents. From the opening vocals to the soaring chorus, the song is honest, impactive and heartfelt.
The metaphorical Rain Down On Me is about relationships and adversity – hard times, mentally, physically and spiritually. Jon hopes lyrics like this land, this sacred life, will live and breathe again, there’s a rainbow coming down, to wash away our sins, gives a positive outlook when listening to the song. “People who work the land, all those hard-working people, their fight certainly resonates for me, it is tough out there,” he says. “I grew up in the country. Marriages fall apart, people, businesses. There are dark days. [I hope the song says] the new day starts, have another crack at this thing called life. I always try to be optimistic, it is not a literal translation but it is something that resonated with me.”
As a songwriter, Jon only writes from the heart, and from personal experience. It is one of the reasons he has garnered such a strong reputation for his honest material. “There has got to be hope,” he says. “That is how I write I suppose, I write from experience, from life and I add hope. It is up to the individual on how they perceive things. It has to resonate with me, I can’t sing it unless it is the truth. I am singing my truth and I hope other people feel it.”
Jon Stevens is currently out on the road as part of his Best Of tour, a series of dates that has taken him back out to regional Australia. Being able to share his music in what he perceives as the heartland of his home country has made a big impact. His message is simple – ‘support one another, we are all in this thing called life together’. Jon Stevens’ charity single Rain Down On Me was released to radio on Friday 26th October 2018. All proceeds from the single will go towards assisting drought-stricken farmers via Rural Aid. Rain Down On Me is available for pre-order now.
For more information, please visit www.jonstevens.com