Review By Terri Nas
As I wandered up Flinders Street towards the Forum theatre last Friday night, I was met with a sea of plaid shirts, Stetson hats, rhinestones, cowboy boots and Ringers Western apparel as far as the eye could see. Having not been to many country music gigs, I wondered what kind of night I was in for when I noticed a number of patrons getting refused entry due to pre-gaming a little too hard before hitting up the gig.
One thing was for sure though, these people were here for a good time, and it was up to Austin-based country trio Midland to provide the goods. The band are currently touring Australia with their headline show, having not been down under since 2019.
The drinks were flowing and the theatre was abuzz with excitement, awaiting the arrival of the support act in the form of Australian country singer, Travis Collins. Exclaiming that this was his first time playing at the Forum, Collins then proceeded on with his 30-minute acoustic set that included his new song Offended (which his record company weren’t so keen on due to its cheeky lyrics), and an energetic cover of John Denver’s Thank God I’m A Country Boy which had the whole crowd singing and stomping along. Despite Collins explaining that he felt a little lost being alone on stage without his full band, he was still excellent and a great way to start the night.
Soon enough it was time for the main event. Enter: Midland. The trio comprising of Mark Wystrach (lead vocals & guitar), Jess Carson (guitar & vocals) & Cameron Duddy (bass guitar & vocals) emerged from the stage accompanied by their 4-piece backing back. They kicked off their set with If I Lived Here which got the crowd riled up for the evening.
Mr Lonely had everyone up and dancing and singing along, followed by the heartbreak tale Out Of Sight. The rocking riff of 21st Century Honky Tonk American Band fired up and it was hard not to move along to its beat. The band explained that they’d been flat out since arriving in Australia, but that they felt right at home here because “in Australia y’all love getting fucked up on a Friday night”. If you’ve ever fallen victim to a big night out in Austin, Texas where the band resides, then you know that these boys definitely would feel at home here and that they would know how to party. This led into their aptly named hit Playboy which featured on their second album, Let It Roll.
We were treated to a few covers during their set including the Garth Brooks tune, Much Too Young and the 70’s hit The Boys Are Back In Town, made famous by the legendary Thin Lizzy. When the opening bars of Men At Work’s Down Under rang out through the crowd, the audience were singing every word with all of the patriotism they could muster.
The audience were loving every second as they sang along about living Paycheck To Paycheck and then said Adios Cowboy. We got 2 more covers in the form of Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell, and then it was “A long way to go and a short time to get there” as we were East Bound And Down (made famous by Jerry Reed). To close off their set we were “watchin’ cigarettes Burn Out”, which the crowd lapped up with every note.
Of course, the night couldn’t possibly be over after their departure at the conclusion of Burn Out, so an encore was on the cards for this rowdy and fired up crowd. Longneck Way To Go kicked off the encore followed closely by my favourite Drinkin’ Problem. The crowd were on a high when we were then bid adieu with Fourteen Gears.
I really enjoyed my first offical country music gig, and with their sweet harmonies and authentic honky tonk sound I felt like I’d been transported back to Austin, Texas and was bar hopping on the “Dirty 6th”. Absorbing the energy from the audience was an experience in itself, and I was thoroughly entertained by some of the shenanigans I witnessed. A great night all round and I think it’s fair to say every single punter there had the best time possible. See you next time, Midland!