This review was published on the AU review on 28/01/2014 and can be viewed here.
What better way to commence the Australia Day weekend than with a bunch of legendary and long-standing Australian bands at a winery? Something For Kate, You Am I and British India supported the re-united Hunters & Collectors on their return to the live scene since disbanding in 1998.
Kicking off the epic six hour festival was Melbournites British India, whose set included tracks from their latest release Controller. Next up was Something For Kate, who played an outstanding set of old and new tracks. The band’s cover of DJ Calvin Harris and vocalist Florence Welch’s “Sweet Nothing” saw vocalist Paul Dempsey creepily matching that of Welch’s quality and dare I say, bettering the original.
Something For Kate were the standout support musically, however it was You Am I frontman Tim Rogers’ self-banter and antics that was the most entertaining of the day. Two technical difficulties with his guitar saw Rogers joking around as techies fixed the issues and he kept saying things like, ‘I’m ugly’ and ‘I can’t sing’. Yes, his vocals are a unique in their atonality; the live instrumentation masked the fact of the matter. Dempsey joined them on the stage to perform Springsteen’s “Born To Run” – who Hunters & Collectors are supporting nationwide upon the E Street Band’s return to Australia mid February, along with Dan Sultan for their two Melbourne shows.
With a career spanning 17 years – until their recent reformation – 10 studio albums, two EPs plus compilations and live albums, frontman Mark Seymour told the thousands of fans packed onto the lawn that the band had many stories to tell but not enough time to tell them. The duration of their set was about one hour and twenty minutes, while their songs were like mini anecdotes.
Various tracks performed sounded a bit AC/DC and one, “True Tears of Joy“, was performed with a Fleetwood Mac-esque vibe. Seymour mentioned that the originators of that song were the last band to perform on that stage before correcting himself that You Am I were; little did he know that the rock legends November tour of Australia had in fact been cancelled due to illness.
The Hunters & Collectors most well-known hits were performed towards the end of the night, with the catchy “Do You See What I See” rounding up the main set. “Holy Grail“, the un-official anthem for the AFL got the biggest reaction from the crowd, garnering the loudest cheers and sing-along of the day. Pictures of Nazis and Hitler were splashed across the screen and I can’t quite put my finger on why these visuals were used. The emotion-driven “Throw Your Arms Around Me” introduced the short encore, while the upbeat horn section-filled “Everything’s on Fire” followed on before finishing off with the Nick Cave-esque “The Slab“.
A special treat saw the band return to the stage for a second encore, with Seymour telling the audience they were told to perform one more song. “Head Above Water” was given the honour to close the festival.
Despite being such a long day, the festival was such a joy to be at; it felt like time was flying. The gaps between sets did not feel like they were dragging on, with the perfect amount of time between acts. Be sure to check out these rock legends if you can, as they are pretty adamant there will be no more shows following their current run of shows.