‘Playing It Forward’: John Farnham/Jimmy Barnes/Noiseworks/Diesel – Melbourne, Hisense Arena – 28 June 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Mel B   
Saturday, 08 July 2017 04:30

It probably goes without saying, but here it is anyway: Australians have a reputation as being generous, fair and honest to a fault. So when fundraising gig 'Playing It Forward' was hastily put together and the date was announced for just three weeks after the tickets went on sale, undeterred Aussie rock fans dug deep into their pockets and virtually sold out Melbourne's 10,000-seater Hisense Arena in a matter of hours.


John Farnham poster


The beneficiary of the funds was Stuart 'Chet' Fraser, a musician who has been a fixture in the Australian rock scene for decades, playing beside several icons of rock, including many of tonight's acts. Said funds will be split between Fraser and his family, Olivia Newton John's Wellness Centre, and Support Act, a group that helps struggling musicians.


The room was still filling as tonight's opener Diesel took to the stage. Stripped back to just him and a multitude of guitars, he took to the task of warming up the crowd with gusto, performing hits such as 'Cry In Shame' and 'Tip of My Tongue', as well as covers of Muddy Waters and Jimmy Hendrix tunes. There's no denying his phenomenal talent, but one can't help but wish that he would play his hits as people remember them, enabling the crowd to sing along.


Follow up act Noiseworks suffer no such issues, opening with their biggest hit 'Take Me Back', which sees several lighters and phones out, as well as a singalong that threatens to blow the roof off. A staple of the Aussie/NZ rock scene since the Eighties, they fire out hit after hit, delighting the ecstatic crowd. There are a few bum notes here and there, as well as a cut song, possibly 'Hot Chilli Woman' – vocalist Jon Stevens admits the band have only had “half a rehearsal, yesterday” since their last gig in January – but nobody gives a damn; their enthusiasm (and a heartfelt speech by Stevens about Fraser, who was a founding member of the band) goes down a storm, as does the appearance of Fraser's daughter on guitar – a truly magical moment.


Jimmy Barnes

Photo courtesy of www.facebook.com/jimmybarnesofficial/


The next act could almost sing his shopping list and receive a standing ovation, such is his stature in Australian rock: it's Jimmy Barnes. The legendary rocker is in killer form tonight, blasting out that unique voice of his without a single missed note. His hour long set packs in so many hits it would make your head spin: 'Working Class Man', 'Too Much (Ain't Enough Love)', ‘I'd Die to Be With You Tonight'… all present, accounted for and bellowed along to by every person in the room, especially when stone cold classic 'Khe Sanh' gets an airing. And when his former Cold Chisel bandmate Ian Moss appears...well. They play a couple of Chisel numbers, including an extended, joyful 'Bow River', which has the place jumping, before Barnes nails a perfect 'Flame Trees', which would bring a tear to the eye of the most hardened soul. “Who needs that sentimental bullshit anyway, right?” he winks afterwards, to a huge roar of approval. Legend.


After the fastest stage turnaround you'll ever see (honestly, the roadies worked at triple time tonight; well done, lads!), it was time for the final act: the equally legendary John Farnham. A man whose voice, songs and lyrics are embedded in the psyche of every Australian, he makes a suitably dramatic entrance to 'We Will Rock You', before launching into an hour long set with his trademark cheeky grin and easy, warm personality.


John Farnham live

 Photo courtesy of www.facebook.com/johnfarnham/


As many hits as possible are crammed in: 'Age of Reason', 'Pressure Down' and 'Reasons' are all there, as well as, unsurprisingly, his biggest hit by a mile, 'You're the Voice', complete with piper in full regalia and an epic singalong from the crowd. He also reveals another special guest in the form of Daryl Braithwaite, who performs his most famous number, the beautiful and uplifting 'Horses'. Aww!


The whole amazing night comes to a reluctant close with Farnham and Stevens belting out AC/DC's 'It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock and Roll)' with Diesel on guitar (but no reappearance of the bagpiper; missed a trick there, guys!), which is clearly unrehearsed but great fun, and a fantastic way to bring things to an end. With the MC's thanks ringing in their ears, the crowd streams out into the chilly night, grinning like crazy and safe in the knowledge that they witnessed something truly special tonight.


You can still donate to the Support Act 'Help a Mate' appeal for Chet Fraser.


As previously reported HERE, Jimmy Barnes is touring the UK and Ireland at the end of this year.


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