The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

Belvoir Ampitheatre, Perth’s Swan Valley
Sunday 28 November, 2011


By Shane Pinnegar


I have a confession to make: I’ve never seen Cold Chisel live.


I know – it’s a bit shocking, and I do feel a bit un-Australian because of it, but it isn’t through lack of interest, I just seemed to get into music around the time they originally broke up, and was overseas when they reformed a few years back…


Their live shows throughout the years are, of course, the stuff of Legend (that’s legend with a capital L!). High powered vodka and speed fuel-injected examples of how to perfectly deliver Aussie pub rock to a large hall or stadium.



So it’s perhaps slightly odd that for the Western Australian leg of their 2011 tour they chose to only play a winery down South, and the Belvoir Ampitheatre in the capital – beautiful, but hardly the most conducive environment for high energy rock n’ roll, especially when the show sold out in record time.


Still, no-one seemed to mind tonight, as these die hard Aussie rock legends delivered a set of bona fide classics over the course of a two hour set.


The band seemed as chilly as the night air for the first half bracket of songs, as Chisel lacked the punch they have always been reknowned for.


Relative newie ‘HQ454 Monroe’ slotted in nicely next to the older tunes, it’s shuffling beat easy to like, and with ‘Choirgirl’ they finally started hitting their stride, egged on by a partisan crowd who were, at times, louder than Barnesy’s singing.



Perhaps the near-mystical level to which Cold Chisel have been elevated since their Seventies and early-Eighties heyday has meant expectations were too high this evening – if only by this reviewer. As good as it was to hear ‘Forever Now’, ‘Cheap Wine’ and ‘My Baby’ played by four fifths of the band (drummer Steve Prestwich tragically passed away last year, victim of a heart attack, and was replaced for this tour by Charley Drayton), the band are merely good, and (at this point of the show) never reach the fever-pitched excitement and frenzied rawness I was led to believe was part and parcel of a Chisel gig.


Not that most of the crowd seem to mind – they’re loving the Greatest Hits set, But something is missing up on the stage…


‘Rising Sun’ is better, with energy to burn as Barnsey tells the tale of his journey to Japan to reclaim his wife, dragged back to her home country by her disgruntled parents, but ‘Star Hotel’, which follows, sounds too tired too invoke any sort of riot.


I’m not suggesting for a moment that the band are going through the motions – everything is GOOD, at the very least. Maybe I’m just expecting them to be legendary, and expecting too much?


And then, ironically, an acoustic tribute to the fallen Prestwich sees all the anticipated magic and more, despite – by his own admission – Barnesy’s voice being “half gone”. Prestwich’s ‘When The War Is Over’ is stunning compared to all that came before, ‘Yakuza Girl’ is an expected highlight, and debut album hangover classic is resplendent in this stripped down format.



NOW these guys sound like the Cold Chisel I was expecting – back playing in full band format, with Drayton nailing down Prestwich’s parts, they are more cohesive and more energised than they’ve been all night, running through some of their biggest numbers and when’, in ‘Flame Trees’ Barnesy growls out “who needs this sentimental bullshit anyway?”… well, the only possible answer is “We do!”


‘Khe Sanh’ is karaoke for 4,500, with the lyrics posted up on the video screen behind the band. Ironically, as this is the one Chisel song that this or any other Aussie crowd LEAST need the lyrics prompted for!



First encore ‘Saturday Night’ is full of subdued rage and passion – another highlight, full of tasty guitar work and Don Walker shines on ‘Don’t Let Go’ after being strangely subdued all night. A fiery ‘Goodbye Astrid Goodbye’ closes out the night and as the crowd filters out, despite the slow start, there’s no denying that this was a fun and rockin’ night. Truth is the Chisel guys aren’t spring chickens any more, Barnesy no longer downs a bottle or two of vodka a show, and nor should we expect him to – after losing Prestwich this year, keeping the music alive is far more important!


Standing On The Outside
Shipping Steel
HQ451 Monroe
Forever Now
Cheap Wine
Painted Doll
My Baby
Rising Sun
Star Hotel
Hound Dog
When The War Is Over (acoustic)
Yakuza Girl (acoustic)
Breakfast At Sweethearts (acoustic)
All For You
You Got Nothin’ I Want
Merry Go Round
Flame Trees
Khe Sanh
Bow River

Saturday Night
Don’t Let Go
Goodbye Astrid Goodbye