Midnight Oil with Leah Flanagan 27/05/2019, Royal Theatre, Canberra


Leah Flanagan is a great indigenous singer/ songwriter, with three albums under her belt. She only had 30 minutes to charm us but I like her.  She deserves to have a wider audience. I hope this mini tour helps achieve that for her.

Midnight Oil started with Lucky Country, the final song on Place Without A Postcard. It’s a song with intent. Tonight is a specially curated show to celebrate National Reconciliation Day, which is this very day.

Midnight Oil have always been about better relations between black and white Australia and better living outcomes for indigenous peoples.  They remind us of this tonight but they don’t preach about it nor do they bash you over the head with it. Peter Garrett takes time on a couple of occasions to share some facts, and a few of his hopes for the future.  I, and most of the crowd, don’t seem to have a problem with this.

For an hour and forty five minutes, we are treated to their versions of love songs.  They love this Country and the people that reside in it.  They love equality and diversity and justice for all.  Because of this, most of the songs on show are from Diesel And Dust and Blue Sky Mining, with nothing from before Place Without A Postcard.  Shame.  But we are treated to rousing renditions of The Dead Heart, Short Memory, Power And The Passion, Beds Are Burning, Bullroarer and a heap of others.  All songs were performed with power, passion and a bit of humour too.

We had a cover too. We had a small acoustic section and at one point, Leah Flanagan joined the Oils on stage for a version of Yothu Yindi’s Treaty.  It was a great version of the original album version.

Peter Garrett is still one of the best front persons in the world.  He still commands the audience and still prowls the stage.  Still dances like a cross between me having a panic attack and performing a demented robotic Yoga.  He’s learnt a few new moves from when I last them play.

We are given two encores after they finished the show with Sometimes.  The first one started with Jimmy Sharmans Boxers, thankfully.  From the underrated Red Sails In The Sunset, it’s a song that’s in my top 5 favourite Oils songs and suits the mood for tonight’s curated setlist. 

The first encore goes for three songs. The second, just one. One Country. A song title which we should all aspire to.

They tease us with a message that they may go into the studio later in the year to record. YES PLEASE.

It was a great night.  They now head to Europe for a tour before coming home to play in Birdsville.

This is my seventh time that I’ve seen Midnight Oil, and I hope it’s not my last.


Review by Gregg Heldon


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