Durn Dun DUN! Yes, we’re off to Auckland to See Midnight Oil, as they deign to cross the ditch to two (count’ em!) venues in New Zealand. In their native Australia, they play such places as Alice Springs (pop. 27,972) and Coffs Harbour (pop. 70,000), but they can’t visit New Zealand’s capital? No, Auckland or Christchurch it is, and as the Christchurch gig was on a Monday night, we opted for Auckland.
We got a morning flight and, after checking in at our Adina apartment opposite the Spark Arena, we went to the War Memorial Museum to see the current exhibition of Wildlife Photographer of the Year, on tour from London’s Natural History museum. Pretty much all of it is now professional photographers – the captions contain phrases like “I set up the camera trap in the desired location and after 6,000 exposures over 3 months this was the best picture”. Yes, the picture is great, but is this photography? There is still some amateur photography in the Young Photography sections, and fortunately the number of “tiger splashes through river” photos seems to have diminished.
As the gig started at 7:30, we opted for an early dinner at nearby restaurant Ostro. This is in a block called Seafarer’s Buildings on Tyler Street. I had the seafood options, with seared tuna followed by hapuka (groper to you), while Nicola had beef carpaccio and mushroom gnocchi. Very good food, and the maitre d’ admired my t-shirt as well (it was this one).
A short walk took us to Spark Arena, and I grabbed a t-shirt before we bagged our seats – far end of the arena, facing the stage. The support band were from Wellington, and called The Nudge. They seem to have been around a while.
Then on came The Oils. They opened with Redneck Wonderland – setting the tone of the rest of the gig, this is a reminder that they are, primarily, a rock band, and you’re not in for a quiet night. The set list was specially modified for New Zealand, so Peter Garrett informed us in one of his between-song chats, and included Shipyards Of New Zealand (“yay! They mentioned New Zealand!”). But as any aficionado of The Oils will know, they vary the set list from gig to gig anyway – indeed, they used to have the famous “wheel of fortune”, that they would spin to select what would be played. Whilst they played songs from early and late in their career, the emphasis was on their most successful middle period, with three quarters of the material coming from four albums. They finished up their set with a powerful non-stop run-through of their most well-known songs, from Power And The Passion through Beds, Blue Sky Mine and Forgotten Years, before coming on for an encore including River Runs Red, Dreamworld and Best of Both Worlds.
We left with ears ringing and throats sore. After two missed opportunities, I’ve finally seen Midnight Oil live!