Review: ‘Midnight Oil’

Politics, some say, flatten the verve of entertainment, but not in Midnight Oil's case. Playing in support of its new Columbia album "Earth and Sun and Moon ," the Australian band kept concertgoers on their feet from the opening notes, neatly melding entertainment and education into a fun show that never once lagged.

Politics, some say, flatten the verve of entertainment, but not in Midnight Oil’s case. Playing in support of its new Columbia album “Earth and Sun and Moon ,” the Australian band kept concertgoers on their feet from the opening notes, neatly melding entertainment and education into a fun show that never once lagged.

Although the band’s sales have slipped since 1987’s breakthrough album “Diesel and Dust,” which featured the massive hit “Beds Are Burning,” Midnight Oil’s latest album shows a growing sophistication in songwriting without compromising its political edge.

Peter Garrett, a former Oz Senate candidate and former president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, is the key to Midnight Oil’s show.

Arguably rock’s most imposing frontman, Garrett moves with great rhythm and conviction, but his lanky build, awkwardness and ominous appearance — 6-feet-7 and bald — make his dancing most comparable to that of the “Young Frankenstein” monster. The rest of the band simply serves as a backdrop.

Unusual for a show of this size, no fancy laser lights, no stage props and no video screens were used, but a personable Garrett and his interaction with the audience sufficed.

Dedicating hit song “King of the Mountain” to Gov. Pete Wilson, Garrett remarked that Wilson will lose his crown if he buries nuclear waste in Ward Valley as has been proposed. Garrett then promptly invited the crowd’s comments to the governor. Boos cascaded down.

It was one of several political stances Garrett invoked during the night, effortlessly threading politics into the band’s show.

Opening act Hothouse Flowers, touring in support of its new Polygram album “Songs From the Rain,” and Geffen’s Counting Crows, which bowed recently with “August and Everything After,” displayed great talent during their sets. Both are bands to be watched and listened to in the future.

Midnight Oil and Hothouse Flowers perform tonight at the Universal Amphitheatre.

Midnight Oil

(Irvine Meadows; 15,000 capacity; $ 25 top)

Production

Promoted by Avalon. Reviewed Oct. 2, 1993.

Cast

Band: Peter Garrett, Jim Moginie, Martin Rotsey, Bones Hillman, Rob Hirst.
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