This past weekend I had the honour to attend a concert in Johannesburg featuring the legendary Australian band, Midnight Oil.
Who is Midnight Oil Again?
I must be honest, before going to the event, I did not know who they were. It was only in the days leading up to the concert that I found out “Beds are Burning’ is their song (I was living under a rock). Although I was not at all too familiar with them or their music, I was extremely excited none the less.
As we waited in the queues to enter Mark’s Park in Johannesburg, we met a lady who told us that she drove all the way from Cape Town for Midnight Oil’s show. She explained how she has waited about 30 years for this! Deep down I felt embarrassed for not knowing the band nearly as well as I should.
The day kicked off with the sounds of The Graeme Watkins Project. The lead vocalist, Graeme Watkins soon got the crowd going with his infectious energy. Their sound can be described as an interesting mix of rock, indie, pop, and electro. The crowd soon recognised some of the band’s radio singles, songs like “Bloodshot Eyes” and “You Come Running”, the latter climbing on the 5FM charts. The crowd slowly began to grow as their set went on.
The second band to perform needed no introduction – Freshlyground. In all their years of performing, this was the first time I saw them live, and honestly, they did not disappoint at all! Their set list included familiar hits such as “Pot Belly”, “I’d Like” and “Doo Be Doo”, and their new song, “Banana Republic”. Hearing all their older music took me back to my primary school days, dancing around with all my little friends. Zolani surprised the crowd by closing their set with “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa), a song they featured on with Shakira for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
It was now time to venture into the food stalls. There were many options to choose from. From Belgian Waffles to Taco’s; Sumting Fresh to Balkan Burger. We decided on pizza. Ravenous stomachs fed, we refilled on beer and headed back for the next band.
The last time I saw Prime Circle was at Oppikoppi 2016. I could barely contain my excitement. Prime Circle remains one of my all-time favourite South African bands. My brother introduced me to them at the age of 12, and it was love at first listen. I fangirled completely on old favourites like “She Always Gets What She Want” and “Breathing”. They also played newer songs like “My City”. I have to admit, I lost touch with their music after their Jekyll and Hyde album, but I did enjoy the new music they played. Ross, their lead vocalist, told the crowd that the band is hard at work on a new album. That would be an album that I would definitely buy.
By now Mark’s Park was buzzing with people, all anxiously waiting on Midnight Oil. The sun was beating down on us all, but it didn’t matter. While awaiting Midnight Oil’s appearance, the people next to us informed me of Midnight Oil’s history. I was told how the band build their reputation on political activism. That when they split in 2002, their lead vocalist, Peter Garrett focused on a political career.
In 2007, Garrett was named as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts. The other members of the band continued to work together but not under the Midnight Oil name. But in February of 2017 the band announced that they would reform and embark on a world tour. And this was it.
When the band came on stage, the crowd went wild. I was impressed with Garrett’s eccentric dance moves (it reminded me of the way my stepdad tries to dance). The crowd next to us sang along to every single song, it was amazing to experience. I thought that I might be the youngest in the crowd, but to my amazement, there were two young girls (I reckon them around like 12) front and centre, dancing and waving to the band.
Being someone who did not know the band, I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire 1 hour and 45 minute set. After being in the music scene for about 40 years, they sure know how to rock out! By the end of their set, I was a converted fan.
I don’t know what the future holds for Midnight Oil once their world tour is completed, but I do hope they don’t stop making music. Looking at the amazement and joy in the people’s faces around me, made it clear that they also want more from Midnight Oil, for many more years to come. And hopefully, it wouldn’t take another 20+ years for them to rock out in South Africa.
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