"The 21st century has rarely seen such raw talent."
Immigrant Union, a home-grown band from Preston, wander out as the lights fall dark. It's a slow start, though the five guys, Brent DeBoer, Bob Harrow, Peter Lubulwa, Ben Street and Paddy McGrath-Lester, do fill the stage with confidence and experience. Their sound is a unique combination of psychedelic rock and alternative folky/country vibes. They don't interact much with the crowd, which leaves us all fairly still but nodding along with the late '80s reminiscent tracks. Their last song, I Can't Return closes out their set with a bang, and the crowd doesn't sound disappointed.
A messy sound check introduces Davey Lane, but he and his band quickly recover when they start their set. Lane's is a classic sound pulled straight from the definition of '90s nostalgia. It's upbeat rock with just an essence of pop, and yet his vocal tone has a punchy punk sound to it that he executes with confidence, pandering to the crowd by leaning into the front row punters for each intricate guitar solo.
If there was any space left on the bandroom floor, there isn't now that we can hear the mumbles of another sound check. The anticipation is unbelievable. Wolfmother explode onto the stage in a blur of big hair and an even bigger sound - and they look like a '70s dream, flared pants and all. New Moon Rising is the set opener, which aptly smacks the audience in the face. The trio, Andrew Stockdale, Ian Peres and Vin Steele, are as artistically skilled ever. For Where Eagles Have Been, Peres is the picture of rock'n'roll, thrashing on his bass guitar and lifting his keyboard up and vertical - the 21st century has rarely seen such raw talent. A staff member sneaks out and sets up a third microphone on centre stage, a teasing little sign that something big's coming. Darren Middleton of Powderfinger joins the guys on stage - glass of red wine in hand - for an exquisitely slow ballad-style rendition of Mind's Eye. Middleton and Stockdale share vocals and the collaboration is as hauntingly beautiful as the original, still just as intense when slowed down. Colossal is a strong and steady track that showcases the talents of all three members, particularly the wild yet controlled rhythm of the newest member, drummer Steele.
Later the third microphone is snuck out again, this time for Spiderbait's Mark "Kram" Maher. "We wrote this a really long time ago, when we got pretty fucked up," Maher recalls before launching into Gypsy Caravan - and it's another explosion of great Australian rock.
Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter
"Are you ready to go another dimension, Melbourne?" The roar of the crowd eggs on an unrestrained performance of Dimension. The trio extend the instrumental break and fall into some classic white noise. Then, with a wave goodbye, they are gone. It's not like a Melbourne crowd to go that easily, and we still haven't heard one particular song. "Joker & The Thief" chants ring out across the room, and after an agonisingly long wait, the band are back for a proper send-off.