From the moment I walked into the Sydney Entertainment Centre to see Cold Chisel, I felt out of place. It started at being younger than 40 and ended with being the only one in my area to enjoy You Am I’s support set.
But when Cold Chisel started playing the feeling disappeared. As soon as they walked on stage, they demanded attention and got it. Opening with ‘Standing on the Outside’, their message is clear. It’s time to rock and they’re not waiting for anyone.
They sweeten things up with radio-friendly hits ‘Choir Girl’, ‘Forever Now’ and ‘Cheap Wine’. These songs get a great reception and you can hear everyone singing: “Come on, come on, come on!” in ‘Cheap Wine’’s catchy chorus.
Lead singer Jimmy Barnes doesn’t stop moving and makes sure he works every area of the stage. He tells us stories and cracks a lot of jokes, and has a lot of energy. His voice is powerful in their louder songs but he’s unable to recreate the gentler melodies in ‘Choir Girl’ and ‘Breakfast at Sweethearts’, and sounds strained.
Guitarist Ian Moss takes over lead vocals for ‘My Baby’, and though his voice might not have the strength of Barnes’ for some of their songs, he brings softness to the song that Barnes couldn’t have achieved. Moss sings again in ‘When The War Is Over’, a very touching tribute to their former drummer, Steve Prestwich.
Prestwich died earlier this year and Barnes dedicates “tonight’s set and every f**king set for the rest of our lives,” to him.
Barnes introduces ‘Flame Trees’ by saying: “This could be about your hometown,” funny, because it is about my hometown. I doubt anyone else in the Entertainment Centre could, or would want to, claim being from Grafton; though the way some people react when the song starts makes me think they like to pretend it’s about their own hometown.
‘Flame Trees’ sounds beautiful and I’m sure it brings on a bit of nostalgia for everyone who loves it as much as I do. The crowd favourites continue with ‘Khe Sahn’, and the band have helped us with the lyrics by having them appear on screen. Not that anyone needs them, I’m sure we’ve all sung that song word-for-word many times in the middle of a pub somewhere.
We’re treated to another appearance from Moss and he delivers a fantastic version of ‘Bow River’ to close the set. His voice is as strong as it was when the song was written and his guitar doesn’t falter once during the long solo.
The band walk off for a few minutes, then play ‘Four Walls’ and the predictable ‘Goodbye Astrid Goodbye’ for their encore and have everyone standing as they walk off stage.
Cold Chisel have provided the soundtrack to many an Australian’s life and will continue to do so. The heart in their songs will stand out through time and I’m hopeful they won’t leave it long before touring again.