"Cold Chisel is definitely still an unstoppable force live, but they missed their shot at a knockout punch in the final round."
While most of the crowd seemed well lubricated from the overflowing bars, there was still a slight tension in the room with the devastating events most woke to find reported all over the news and internet that morning; it was understandable that The Living End wanted to address the elephant in the room straight away and began their set by asking the audience to take a moment to enjoy themselves and the music.
The Melbourne three-piece needed no warming up, launching straight into Second Solution with gusto and flooding the room with energetic rock'n'roll. It was the live show you wanted from The Living End, Chris Cheney unleashing boisterous solos on his Gretsch White Falcon, Scott Owen straddling his upright bass and Andy Strachan keeping the rockabilly swing thumping. The set was littered with singles to appease the masses dancing along, though they had their work cut out for them in luring the headliner fans away from the aforementioned bars. Surprisingly, they drop the news that they've competed the final mix of their latest record and debut a fresh cut from it. The roaring new track sounds like one of the sharpest we've heard from the group in a long time and slots in perfectly between the rebellious spirit of Roll On and the radio riffs of Modern Artillery. Winding up with the beer-sculling solo instrumental of E-Boogie, The Living End reminded all that they still are one of the sharpest live acts around.
As the arena screens pulsed with the band logos, Cold Chisel emerged to treat fans with Standing On The Outside. The supreme Jimmy Barnes stalked the stage and let fly on his shredding vocals — even the ridiculous hockey pads he seemed intent on sporting didn't distract from how solid his vocals have remained. With the band performing initially in front of a white drop sheet with a tightly packed central stage, the massive arena crowd seemed all the more drawn in to the Ian Moss-led Choirgirl and My Baby or the spiralling riff of Rising Sun. The fact that Chisel are an institution is obvious; each member of the crowd has their favourite tracks and most of those were represented in the bulging setlist, with attendees having no problems attempting to raise their voices above a band so very on-song and oozing energy. It seemed that pub-rock royalty were going to ride home another stellar gig with a main set closer holding the iconic sounds of Flame Trees, Khe Sanh and Bow River. The arena was practically rioting with applause, the two encores that followed however fell dramatically short of their mark. As they reached the opening chorus of Forever Now, a sound desk failure dropped the audio, leaving the crowd a cappella and the band noticeably pissed off. That incident likely explained why, after the final notes of Hound Dog, the band left the stage without a word or wave and the house lights rose, leaving a packed arena of punters unsure if they should begin shuffling out or hold out for the finale that the set deserved. Cold Chisel is definitely still an unstoppable force live, but they missed their shot at a knockout punch in the final round.