Midnight Oil’s “tree-hugging a**hole” kicks ass for Clayoquot Sound at the Hip’s Another Roadside Attraction

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 22, 1993

By Steve Newton

It didn’t take long for Midnight Oil singer/environmental activist Peter Garrett to bring up the contentious issue of logging in Clayoquot Sound during Saturday’s (July 17) Another Roadside Attraction rock festival at Seabird Island in Agassiz. Right after the band’s introductory tune, the Greenpeace director began berating MacMillan Bloedel and the government that agreed to let the logging giant devour pristine areas of the old-growth forest. “Go back to Australia, you tree-hugging a**hole,” screamed a pro-logging loud-mouth. As if in response to that, Garrett turned his politically motivated anger on the rowdy goofballs who were causing trouble up front.

“The Brian Mulroney of the under-16s is over here,” he snarled sarcastically, pointing to one troublemaker he wanted security to eject. “I will stay here for five minutes till these a**holes are gone,” Garrett announced. “I do not want written on my epitaph that some girl got killed at a Midnight Oil/Tragically Hip/Hothouse Flowers concert.”

Fortunately, nobody got squished to death, although Midnight Oil’s exhilarating tunes certainly brought the beast out in many of the 25,000 attendees. For all its political and environmental correctness, the Oil is first and foremost a kick-ass rock ’n’ roll band that—like most bands that came out of the Aussie pub circuit—thrives in a live setting.

Of course, the group’s constant ability to excite is strengthened by the unique physical antics of lanky chrome-dome Garrett, who comes across like an outta-control Frankenstein’s monster. Whether churning forth compelling anti-war, pro-environment, or pro-Aboriginal-rights tunes (“Forgotten Years”, “Dreamworld”, “The Dead Heart”, respectively), Midnight Oil remained a notch above the other five bands on the bill, but there really wasn’t a loser in the bunch.

On a massive stage bordered by Lynda Barry–style cartoons by an artist named Mini, Toronto’s Crash Vegas kicked off the show. Looking sharp in a shiny gold-lamé top, frontwoman Michelle McAdorey led the quartet in multi-textured pop tunes that ranged from savage to tender. McAdorey’s dramatic vocals were given full support by a great concert sound, which would last right through the day. Kudos to the clever folks at the soundboard.

Pere Ubu was up next, certainly the quirkiest and most musically adventurous of all the assembled bands. “Spot the Troggs,” teased singer David Thomas in the introduction to “Sleep Walk”, a new tune that obviously owes something to the riff from “Wild Thing”. Thomas was something of a paunchy, balding wild thing himself, and his crack band garnered brownie points for its funky female bassist, for using a zany kind of homemade bass fiddle, and for featuring a couple of members who looked as old as my dad.

“I see you’re all eating your vegetables here and getting all your minerals,” said World Party’s Karl Wallinger, observing the first of the body surfers do their thing in front of the stage. His light and breezy pop tunes, such as “Ship of Fools” and the recent “Is It Like Today?”, didn’t really suit the sight of flailing bodies being shuffled over the crowd, but Wallinger’s ear-to-ear smile showed that it was okay with him. His band ended its set with a dusty track by one of his biggest influences—Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”.

By the time Ireland’s Hothouse Flowers hooked into a simmering, sax-filled folk-rock jam, burly security guys were lifting bodies over the stage-front barricades left and right. Time after time, the rowdy liftees were escorted away, pulled to the ground, and handcuffed by busy RCMP officers. In the meantime, charismatic lead singer/keyboardist Liam O’Maonlai dedicated Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” to “all the brothers and sisters of the land and the future gathering that seems to be in order”.

Because the Tragically Hip is one of the few bands capable of following an incendiary performance by Midnight Oil, the boys from Kingston, Ont., were a good choice to end the night—the only better choice would have been the Oils themselves. Lead singer Gordon Downie backed up everything Peter Garrett said about the situation in Clayoquot Sound, but he kept his tirade quite short, letting his band’s groove-oriented, wall-of-guitars sound win the audience over instead.

As usually happens at Hip shows, the opening strains of “Blow at High Dough” were a sign for the crowd to go completely bonkers, with Downie himself following suit. When the whole thing was over, I couldn’t decide who should have received the award for wackiest on-stage moves, Downie or Garrett, but rumour has it they’re going to start up their own Lead Singer’s School of Spastic Dance.

Great music sure makes people do funny things.

 

To hear the audio of my interviews with Midnight Oil and the Tragically Hip subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can also eavesdrop on my uncut, one-on-one interviews with:

Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
Jeff Healey, 1988
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Roy Buchanan, 1988
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joe Satriani, 1990
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, 1998
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, 1997
Tommy Emmanuel, 1994
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Steve Vai, 1990
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
James Hetfield of Metallica, 1986
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks, 1984
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1989
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Roy Buchanan, 1986
Gary Moore, 1984
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
J.J. Cale, 1990
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
Chris Cornell, 2008
Long John Baldry, 1985
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers, 1994
Derek Trucks, 1998
Susan Tedeschi, 1998
Joe Satriani, 2018
B.B. King, 1984
Albert Collins, 1985
Ronnie James Dio, 1985
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Greg Allman, 1998
Dickey Betts, 2001

….with hundreds more to come

 

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