Cold Chisel – Live @ Villa Maria
Cold Chisel / Supergroove / The Bads – live @ Villa Maria, Auckland 2015 concert review.
So Summer is here in New Zealand, and so are the amazing outdoor music concerts and festivals we Kiwis love. Kicking off in grand style at the beautiful Villa Maria vineyard in Auckland is the ‘One night Stand’ NZ tour for Cold Chisel.
Words by Jacko Andrews
Auckland’s weather put on a perfect display for a change as the day was kicked off by Waitakere City country/folk outfit The Bads. The band have been getting a lot of press recently, and for the life of me I have no idea why. Ex Mockers guitarist Brett Adams on guitar is obviously a very accomplished player though Dianne Swann vocally was a little hit and miss and, for the most part, I have no idea what she was saying or singing about, and if I’m honest wasn’t that interested either. The quasi-Waylon Jennings country jam just didn’t sit well with an audience here to see hard rockin’ Aussie brawlers who largely ignored them and continued to drink their Vinos and chat amongst themselves. They played and then they finished.
Since their reformation in 2007 Supergroove have not recorded any new material opting to simply rehash all their old tunes jukebox style. We can give them a free pass for ditching us back in the 90’s and breaking up, but now they’re back together I was hoping to see more of the band back in the clubs and pubs, touring around the country with new material. Alas, not as yet. Still, there is no denying Supergroove are one of the best acts to ever come out of this country – totally entertaining and funky as hell. The band look and sound so damn good, playing all their hits, plus a selection of Che Fu‘s better known-tracks and even a tasty opening blues rap from Hopetoun Brown brass duo Tim Stewart and Nick Atkinson.
Karl Stevens and Che Fu make an unlikely pair to front a full noise funk band, but when the whole band is lost in the groove there is no better experience for the audience. Also, what might have been slightly uncomfortable due to the less than amicable history, Supergroove covering of Che Fu’s old-school hits like ‘Fade Away’ and ‘ Chains’ sounded excellent. The band nailed them perfectly adding that edge of funk to keep them in par with the rest of the set, in an almost ‘What might have been’ moment, if only the band has stayed together long enough. Great set, great band, a perfect way to wake the audience up and get them ready for what was to come.
…and then Jimmy hits the stage and all hell breaks loose.
There is nothing more formidable than Jimmy Barnes on full noise, in your face and staring down the barrel of a microphone intensely eyeballing the crowd. He’s getting on in years you can see, but he’s still an imposing figure that commands the stage. Vocally Barnesy hasn’t lost a beat – if anything he’s even more gritty and angry then he was 30 years ago. It takes a song or two for your brain to calm down and take note of the rest of the band, calmly holding down the backline and just doing their job – the amazing Don Walker on keys, Phil Small bass and replacing Steve on drums is Charley Drayton, long time ex-member of The Divinyls.
Then, of course, there’s the incomparable Ian Moss. In my opinion one of the world’s best and most understated guitarists. Vocally he was right on the money tonight, and guitar-wise, of course incredible – never overplaying, just the right amount of notes at the right time. An impressive collection of vintage guitars were on display too, and unlike some bands who seem to change guitars purely to match their outfits, you could really hear the difference in tone each time, bringing the right tool for the job at hand.
Cold Chisel have an understanding of balance, no doubt through thousands of gigs and years of hard graft. Not a single note is out of wack, no one ever steps on or upstages each other. The band is a totally professional act. Cold Chisel songs are like music canon – just so well crafted and ingrained into the memories of pretty much everyone over the age of 30 that they just can’t be messed with or covered by another band. It’s a truly humbling experience to hear the classic tunes like this being played so perfectly, so loud and in such an amazing outdoor environment.
Everything was on display tonight – kicking off early with Standing On The Outside and Rising Sun which is always guaranteed to get the party started, then keeping the crowd on their feet with Choir Girl, My Baby and the likes. Don’s chilled vocals kicking off Saturday Night nearly out blasted by the audience singing along, which I think moved him a little. Cheap Wine, Flame Trees, Khe Sanh, Bow River…everything you wanted to hear, plus a good smattering of new tracks which sounded very promising from their new album, Perfect Crime.
We spent some time at the front where the sound was amazing, but the ‘drunken idiots’ level got too high for my taste, so we moved back up the hill where the crowd were a lot more appreciative of being there for the music and not so much fisty cuffs. The security was pretty lax letting some fights go on way too long, Jimmy Barnes even had to stop the band at one stage to get security to eject some asshat from the crowd. I guess when booze is only sold by the bottle and not glass, what do you expect.
Still, dickheads aside, the night was amazing. The sound and lighting were world class. Very good camera work too on the big screens, so no matter where you sat you could see and hear everything perfectly – this production crew sure know how to do rock’n roll well.
So ended a brilliant night, we hummed Cold Chisel songs all the way home and in a way felt proud NZ are capable of hosting some absolutely top notch events like this, full credit to all involved.