There was much anticipation for Cold Chisel at Festival Hall in Melbourne. The gig had been delayed by a week by an unfortunate incident between Ian Moss and his cat, which had landed him in hospital. It seemed that most of the crowd were die hard original Chisel fans, leaving their kids at home with babysitters for the night, getting the black Cold Chisel tour tshirt out of mothballs and having a couple of Jim Beams in the car park before the show.
The night started off with duo "King of the North". The two piece owed a huge debt to Led Zeppelin (costume included - the drummer sporting a bowler hat similar to drummer John Bonham's and a tattoo of the 3 circles "symbol" famously displayed on Bonham's bass drum and the cover of the fourth album). This turned out to be quite fitting, as he was quite reminiscent of Bonham at times, his heavy handed beats and timing working well against the solo guitar. It was an inspired choice, as the mellow long form blues rock was just the thing for a crowd getting geared up to sing their hearts out to every Cold Chisel hit.
Chisel started off with Standing On The Outside, then Cheap Wine. The audience was singing along with them from the start. Barnes could've taken a night off and no-one would know the difference. Numerous sound problems plagued Ian Moss, but he soldiered bravely through, despite blowing up a Marshall head and having to wait for a replacement. Moss cycled through about 6 guitars including a sunburst Strat, a Gretsch White Falcon and a lovely dark brown wood grainTelecaster that didn't get enough airplay for my liking.
Once they got to Choir Girl, about half way through, things really heated up. Mossy was in his element and everything started moving along like clockwork. Harp player David Blight joined them.
Drummer Charlie Drayton performed admirably, filling the enormous shoes left by Steve Prestwich (who passed away unexpectedly due to a brain tumour at the start of the reunion and album talks) and even returned for the encore with a white tshirt with the word Prestwich on it. It was a fitting tribute, with the band launching into "When the War is Over", one of the many hits penned by the drummer.
Don Walker, a calm presence behind the keyboards, but a huge influence on the band as a whole, kept things together, occasionally grinning across to Drayton when things were going particularly well. I spotted him out the back before the gig - it was interesting that someone so influential to the band could casually wander outside into the crowd for a smoke and no-one noticed that he was there. His opening notes to Khe Sanh were iconic. It was one of those times when the whole crowd held their breath in anticipation.
This was Chisel's last gig in Australia for the foreseeable future. The crowd came away from the show feeling as thought they'd witnessed a band at their peak. Even the new songs fitted into the set as though they had been playing them for years.