As the sun began to set on this warm Wednesday evening, Margaret Court Arena was enriched by a multitude of Plaid shirts, trucker caps, denim, cowboy hats and boots.
With most gigs, fans come dressed up for the event in attire that one would usually associate with that genre. But with a country music show I get the sense that the fans are coming dressed as their true, authentic selves – and authenticity is the perfect adjective to describe both Randy Houser and Kip Moore.
Randy Houser began his set by demanding our attention with his powerful and commanding voice, accompanied by the glassy tones of his Stratocaster. Randy is a big man with an even bigger presence and I think he would have quite adequately managed to make himself heard even without the microphone.
The stage was adorned with guitar amps and fold back monitors, something I haven’t seen at a live show in awhile. Such a setup is probably considered old fashioned these days but there was a noticeably organic difference in the sounds coming from the band and damn did they sound good. As the saying goes, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
As they performed the infectiously catchy, Boots On, I witnessed the band display technical proficiency that was tastefully balanced with restraint. Note To Self, was an emotionally charged performance that encapsulated the heart felt lyrics of the song and moved us with its honesty.
Randy Houser has an undeniable earnestness about him and every time he addressed the crowd it was like a conversation with a dear friend. Playing in Melbourne is kind of like a home coming for Randy as his wife and extended family are locals, and Melbourne is without a doubt, overjoyed to claim him as one of us.
It’s easy for anyone to understand why Kip Moore is the Country music superstar that he is. A husky voice that soulfully regales us with relatable life experiences, a charismatic stage presence that demands devotion and I’m sure the ladies will agree that he’s pretty easy on the eyes too.
Country music is about the stories, but Kip takes it one step further and delivers a performance that is worthy of a stadium show. Beautiful light displays emanated from the stage, painting the audience in ornate colours and patterns whilst gnarly guitar tones echoed through the air, invoking more of a stadium Rock feel than what one would normal expect from country music.
Wild Ones, off Kip Moore’s second studio album was one of the crowd’s favourites of the night. As they sang along, I scanned the many faces in attendance and saw so much joy wherever I looked.
Somethin' 'Bout a Truck is quite possibly the best summary of all the things that make living in the country great, and from the way the crowd reacted, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they very well might be questioning whether city living really is as slick as it seems.
As a special treat for the Australian fans, Kip did a sensational cover of Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again by The Angels and the audience showed their appreciation by valiantly attempting to sing louder than the band.
Kip Moore and his band have a great chemistry, perfectly complimentary of each other while allowing individual members to have their moments to shine. It’s evident that they have honed their abilities through countless shows over the years and the experience shows.
Rock n’ roll had Los Angeles and Country had Nashville. Rock n’ Roll died or at best, is on life support – yet Country music is not only alive but thriving. Why is that? The reason is because Nashville cares and values its music, its artists and its traditions.
There are probably a million memes on the internet about country music and probably just as many jokes too. However, Country music is honesty and authenticity at its finest. Not qualities one would immediately associate with “cool”, but in my opinion – there ain’t nothing cooler than wearing your heart on your sleeve.
The stars align after a two-year hiatus to bring three generations of iconic rock and roll back to Melbourne.
With live music venues having the red tape treatment over the last two years finally, rock and roll lovers had the red carpet rolled out with an all-star international line-up gracing the Margaret Court stages in loud and proud performances uniting the enthusiastic Melbourne crowd.
Everywhere you looked the rock nostalgia was strongly represented, a sea of black t-shirts printed Metallica, Matchbox Twenty, Sex Pistols, Rose Tattoo, Rage Against The Machine and my personal favourite ‘Never too old for rock’ brought music lovers of all ages together under the one roof.
Two years out of the arenas and these accomplished musicians did not miss a beat, Bush stormed onto the stage with lead singer and guitarist Gavin Rossdale bounding around the floor with red and white flashing pyrotechnics and pulsating electric guitars and an audience ready to stand their feet and scream. Stone Temple Pilots emerged from the darkness with leading man Jeff Gunn breaking out in song with his thick brown trench coat, dark sunglasses and crouched posture digging deeps for those powerful choruses accompanied by original members Dean and Robert DeLeo showing they still got the goods on the guitar. Then the marvellous final set from Cheap Trick made the audience time travel back to the 80s with lead singer Robin Zander’s voice not losing any of its remarkable range and lead guitarist Rick Nielsen not losing any of his humour.
Every band’s leader showed their gratitude for the mighty Melbourne crowd who made the effort to stick around for the full concert; ‘it’s amazing to be here and trusting the show would go ahead … we’re just grateful to be out here’ Rossdale from Bush echoed to the audience. Gunn continued the appreciation for the audience saying how beautiful the crowd was and how great it was to be in Melbourne. Cheap Trick thanked the crowd by reminiscing about their experiences in Melbourne in times gone by including a rather comical conversation with Nielsen and the band’s young guitarist about never being to Australia, “and this is our youngest members first time in Australia” Nielsen exclaimed until the young guitarist corrected him with his revelation … he’d been here four times before … a stunned Nielsen admitting he was practically a local.
The curtain raisers Rose Tattoo and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club got the crowd moving and shaking early in the piece, the strong rock and roll enthusiasts at the front swarmed the opening talent and made them feel right at home.
Some of the fans were simply swept up by the stardom on stage, one die-hard fan could be seen racing from pillar to post with a set list handy, hugging fellow fans and getting up close and personal at the edges of the stage in his sparkling golden jacket collecting sweaty guitar picks to add to his very own rock and roll hall of fame. His emotion did get the better of him as he teared up during some of spine-tingling harmonies sung in unison with the whole crowd during the chart breaking hits from Cheap Trick.
In the kaleidoscope of great hits the crowd reacted to; Everything Zen performed by Bush had fans screaming the lyrics back at the band whilst Glycerine had audience members holding their phones up like a candle light vigil singing along with the lone Rossdale on stage strumming his electric guitar. The microphone was turned toward the fans as they were united singing the chorus of Comedown in the deep red lights as camera flashes buzzed around the stadium. The sea of phones again were raised as Stone Temple Pilots sang the catchy Interstate Love Song belted out by fans accompanied for flashing golden lights and a deeply crouched Gunn. Heads were shaking and sweat was splattering from the long locks of hair thumping to the chorus of Dead and Bloated which was fitting from those who made a few too many trips to the tuck shop. Cheap Trick teased their greatest hits out to the audience often making jokes about not playing The Flame instead opting to play some of their lesser-known tunes that only the die-hard fans would appreciate. However even the die-hard fans were starting to stamp their feet in protest. The audience that stayed to the very end however were treated to a plethora back-to-back Cheap Trick headline material playing If You Want My Love, I Want You To Want Me, Dream Police, Surrender and yes The Flame did get a run in case you were wondering. The seasoned professionals characteristically ended the show farewelling the audience the only way they know how … in song and bowing to a rowdy crowd appreciating the rock legend’s ability to stay at the top of their game for so long.
So, for all your rock enthusiasts out there, if you want a concert that’ll have you clapping your hands, banging your head, using your phone as candle sticks and your voice a screaming speaker whilst you’re singing along arm in arm with a random golden jacketed mega fan then Under the Southern Stars is the concert for you to rediscover your love for live concerts.
You can still catch this spectacular rock music concert series, featuring rock royalty Cheap Trick, global rock superstars, Bush and the legendary Stone Temple Pilots, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club!!
As well as Australian rock royalty Rose Tattoo and rock icons Electric Mary.
UNDER THE SOUTHERN STARS 2022
Sat, March 19: Bonython Park, Adelaide, SA
Sun, March 20: Bonython Park, Adelaide, SA
Tues, March 22: WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong, NSW
Wed, March 23: Quodos Bank Arena, Sydney, NSW
Fri, March 25: Kings Beach Ampitheatre, Caloundra, QLD
Sat, March 26: Southport Sharks, Gold Coast, QLD
Sun, March 27: Riverstage, Brisbane, QLD
Presale starts Friday, Nov 26 @ 9.00am AEDT until 5.00pm Sunday, Nov 28 AEDT.
Register for presale access before 5.00pm on Sunday, Nov 28 for discounted early bird tickets.
General Public On Sale Monday, Nov 29 @ 9.00am AEDT