Cold Chisel kick off their tour in Newcastle. Photo: Jonathan Carroll JCA
IT WAS just like the old days when we suburban folk could head up the road to a neighbourhood pub and hear big local acts like Cold Chisel, rather than some poxy covers band or the chime of the pokies.
Sure, tonight they are not actually playing in Castle Hill but at the Hordern Pavilion and I’m not at the bar but watching the show “beamed live via satellite” (as they used to say) among a tiny crowd of about 30 in a movie theatre. Still, it’s a Chisel gig. Near home. With choc tops. All right then, let’s rock.
Or not. Although the screen kicks into life as the band walk onstage at the Hordern, it is more than 30 seconds into Standing On The Outside before we get sound. OK, dodgy sound at gigs is hardly a new thing – even if no sound at all is a bit extreme – so we all go with it because the band is soon into Cheap Wine and No Plans and they’re playing well. As well as they did at last year’s reformation shows.
But it’s soon pretty clear that while the surround sound is good quality (Ian Moss’s guitar coming over your left shoulder while a three-metre Jimmy Barnes is in your face is startling), it isn’t anywhere near loud enough, nowhere near enveloping enough to make you feel like you are doing much better than watching a music DVD on your widescreen TV. I bet you it’s louder and more compelling in Battleship next door.
Not coincidentally, the atmosphere in this cinema is non-existent: polite rather than heaving; mutterings rather than singing; distracted by family photos on the phone, like the woman in front of me, rather than by Don Walker’s piano playing. The constant shots of the packed Hordern audience in full-throated appreciation merely serve to rub the point in that we’re not anywhere near a gig.
When the picture, briefly, and then the sound, completely, disappears during Khe Sanh and stays out for another two songs bridging the end of the set and the start of the encore, it is the final insult. Yes, we do get the rest of the show, but on this night, in this room, this experiment has been a failure.
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