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STONE MUSIC FESTIVAL – DAY ONE, Sydney – 20 April 2013

| 23 April 2013 | Reply

ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Saturday 20 April, 2013
By Shane Pinnegar

STONE MUSIC FESTIVAL, named after Sandy Harbutt’s seminal 1974 Australian biker movie Stone, hasn’t had an easy birth: First there was the rival promoters who bagged them out, warning the public to be wary of unproven outfits. Then there was the consumer reticence to buy tickets to see Van Halen after their Soundwave Revolution tour was cancelled a couple of years ago. It didn’t inspire any more confidence when local support acts were announced with Baby Animals on the list, but they pulled out in a matter of days, citing that “it just wasn’t feeling right to us”.

Stone Music Fest logo

Punters were nervous and held on to their money, and ticket sales were slow.

Thankfully the promoters held in there, and a couple of weeks ago Aerosmith were added to the bill, pulling their Sydney show forward a week. Still, when David Lee Roth appeared on local morning television on Friday quite a few people breathed a sigh of relief – PHEW! They ARE coming!

As if to prove that nothing is ever easy though, perhaps the big U.S. names brought the bad weather with them, and the day before the show the heavens opened and dumped rain like it was going out of fashion.

Despite all this, the show went on, and the 16,000 strong audience (according to official sources) can attest to what a fantastic show it was.

The weather made getting to the stadium a little slower than expected, so we missed sets from both THE SUPERJESUS and RITCHIE RAMONE, and it made seeing anyone on the Hard Rock side stage a damp proposition, so 100% ROCK MAG stayed as dry as we could (well, we tried not to get any wetter) and stuck to the main stage from the sheltered stadium seating.
Wanna get your chilly afternoon kickstarted? Nothing will work better than a half hour blast of Los Angeles sleaze rock, delivered courtesy of BUCKCHERRY. Somewhere in the City Of Angels there’s a tattooist putting his kids through college courtesy of this band’s patronage, and singer Josh Todd is not at all shy in stripping down to his leather pants in bold defiance of the blustery weather and showing off his elaborate ink. Buckcherry served up a platter of angry sleaze rock full of spit and fire, getting the sparse early crowd dancing and fist pumping like the sun had already gone down with cocaine anthem All Lit Up and Wrath & Gluttony from their latest album Confessions, before wrapping up their all-too-short set with a frenzied Crazy Bitch.
By contrast Australian stalwarts NOISEWORKS were slick and smooth and in fine form for a trawl through their biggest hits Take Me Back, Miles & Miles, Voice Of Reason and No Lies (dedicated again to our “illustrious Prime Minister”), even throwing in new song Let It Go, which fit seamlessly into the set. Jon Stevens, greying at the temples and stating that it’s ‘far too early for us rock n’ roll people’ nevertheless looks fit and tanned and is in strong voice throughout while the rest of the band hang back on the stage rather than engage with the singing and dancing crowd. The sun finally peeks out into a patch of blue sky as the band launch, fittingly, into the always uplifting Touch and as always, lovers reach out to touch their partners, dancers sway, strangers sing to each other and thousands clap their hands in unison, reminiscent of Queen’s Radio Ga Ga. Hot Chilli Woman and a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Rock n’ Roll close their flawlessly entertaining set with a rocking singalong.
THE LIVING END waste no time launching into a frenzied Second Solution and Roll On, double bassist Scott Owen clambering up his instrument from the get go. A feisty start to Who’s Gonna Save Us? was abruptly curtailed and guitars downed amid confusion: A ten minute over schedule start to the next band while “they do something with the power” explains the mid-show pause, not that anyone, even the band, seemed to know at the time. A few minutes later instruments were donned and the song resumed, the audience none the wiser. Cheney thrashes his Gretsch for a wild Victim Of Society and a frenetic instrumental during which he grabbed a VB stubby for some frothy bottleneck slide action, before necking the drink to cheers from the crowd. Raise The Alarm and White Noise are impassioned, and a wild West End Riot closed out the set.

KINGS OF CHAOS are the first act to get a true rockstar welcome – and it’s hardly surprising when your band members are ex-Guns n Roses/Velvet Revolver drummer and bassist Matt Sorum and Duff McKagan; Billy Idol’s guitarist Steve Stevens; ex-G n’R guitarist Gilby Clarke; and singers Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), Joe Elliot (Def Leppard) and Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple/Black Country Communion). Bach kicks off, running around the stage like an ADHD teen whilst singing an excitable Welcome To The Jungle and his old band’s Youth Gone Wild. Glenn Hughes ain’t known as “The Voice Of Rock” for nothing, and takes the reins with an almighty scream for a mighty Highway Star and Burn, both Deep Purple classics, the latter from his Seventies tenure with the band alongside David Coverdale. Bach joins in again on backing vocals and has a good laugh when Sorum grabs the mic to declare “this is a fucking band we put together to have some fucking fun. Everyone on this fucking stage fucking LIKES each other. Waddaya think of THAT?” The charisma on show is undeniable: these guys have decades of experience prowling the world’s arena-sized stages and it shows. Joe Elliot bounds on to rock up Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell, Stevens in his element with a mighty solo. All three singers join in for a beefy Pour Some Sugar On Me, and everyone on stage looks like they’re loving playing each other’s songs and larking about in front of the crowd, Bach even bringing out an Aussie flag as Hughes announces they’ll be back in January for a full national tour. Paradise City is riotous, the slowly swelling crowd loving every minute of the sheer joy to see these superstars- especially the three vocalists – on the same stage.
JIMMY BARNES’s ten piece band are honed to perfection behind their gravel-throated boss, and get everyone singing instantly through a career-spanning set including Love & Hate, I’d Die To Be With You Tonight, Lover Lover, Love Is Enough and Lay Down Your Guns. With three guitarists on board and three backing singers (including Barnesy’s wife and one of their daughters) the band straddle the perfect mix of raw Aussie pub rock and slick U.S. radio rock, as evidenced by the double punch of the 70’s one hit wonder Resurrection Shuffle and his own big hit Ride The Night Away. A couple of Cold Chisel tracks in Merry Go Round and Flame Trees keep things ticking over, before Driving Wheels leads into the Dylan track Seven Days, full of AC/DC chug and groove. No Second Prize, Khe Sanh and Working Class Man finish up a solid set and with the skies temporarily clear the crowd, now looking like a healthy 10 or so thousand, raise a royal cheer.
An AEROSMITH show has to balance several personas: there’s the 70’s rough n’ raw rock which laid the foundations for hair metal and sleaze rock. There’s the enormodome 80’s power ballad band and their own cock rock forays, and Perry especially always has one foot in the blues. Over 90 minutes they manage to juggle all these things and deliver pretty much something for everyone in a fantastic set which proved to be the highlight of the day for most.

After a surprisingly low-key entrance they tear into Seventies classic Draw The Line, singer Steve Tyler draped in more diaphanous scarves and cloaks than a Stevie Nicks garage sale and Joe Perry’s sheepdog mane hanging over his guitar intently focused on his Keef-influenced raw riffing. “Sydney, we missed you” shouts Tyler (and no doubt he should after 24 years!), before scatting into Love In An Elevator, the band finely balancing their Seventies sleaze and slicker Eighties sounds, and surely only Tyler could squeeze a chorus of The Beatles’ Lady Madonna into a song about shagging in an elevator!

It’s the Toxic Twins’ show – they’re the alpha dogs here and never stop squeezing the crowd for attention. The other guys are content to play second bananas to these two as they milk every ounce of love from the crowd at the front of the stage, but there is no sign that this is the band’s first show together for four months, such is the well oiled unit they are.

Nineties damp squib Jaded sounds no more engaging live than on record, but newie Oh Yeah just about gets the train back on the tracks. The first of too many power ballads appears with Cryin’, before Livin’ On The Edge kicks out the jams. Tyler no doubt has his bad days and is sporting a bit of slap, but I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping I look as good as he does – all Captain Jack Sparrow in drag – in my mid Sixties. Bassist Tom Hamilton, drummer Joey Kramer and guitarist Brad Whitfield all look healthy after various recent surgeries and scares, and Whitfield’s extended solo in Last Child allows him to step into Perry’s spotlight for a brief while.

The infectious topsy turvy groove of Rag Doll leads into Perry taking the mic for the early Fleetwod Mac blues classic Stop Messin’ Around, but not before giving a shoutout on behalf of the Boston band to those injured & killed in last week’s Boston Marathon, and to the police & fire agencies who brought the killers in so quickly. A microphone malfunction delays Tyler’s harp solo prompting a shout from Perry, and then its ballad time again with the megahit I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing.

There’s No More No More from Toys In The Attic, before Tyler does the first half of What It Takes accapella, proving he can do an overwrought power ballad better than anyone. Beatles classic Come Together leads the charge towards the finish line, and a mighty Dude Looks Like A Lady and Walk This Way show how magnificent the band can be. A white piano is wheeled out for an encore of Dream On full of pomp and circumstance, which saw first Perry jump on top of the instrument for his solo, then Tyler finish singing the tune from on high. To top off a fantastic performance, Hamilton plays the slinky, funky bass intro to Sweet Emotion and Perry thrusts out that famous pelvic riff, while Tyler moves with feline grace. Masters of their game, the show is so sexy that no couple present has any excuse not to get it on tonight.

Stone Fest 2

A long anticlimactic wait, damp and shivering as the mercury plummetted, then ensued for our headliners: long enough for the PA to play the entire Shout At The Devil album by Motley Crue AND most of Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard Of Ozz. To be fair, Aerosmith finished 25 minutes later than scheduled, but still, VAN HALEN don’t get onstage til 40 minutes past schedule, prompting some who may have had babysitters, public transport or other factors to consider to leave early in their set.

When VAN HALEN do take the stage it’s in matching black n’ white outfits – black pants, white shirts, black vests and with b&w video on the screens to match – with the monstrous riff of Unchained as their soundtrack. With three Van Halens in the band now it’s up to David Lee Roth to engage the audience, as the others seem content being musicians rather than entertainers, and rarely interact except with themselves.

DLR’s vocals are way too low in the mix to start with, but are corrected by the time the classic Runnin’ With The Devil starts, only to be drowned out every couple of songs. If it wasn’t such an unprofessional notion we’d have sworn Eddie Van Halen was turning up to drown Roth out deliberately. That said, they look happy together – Dave and Eddie especially interact often and have a laugh; Alex is all slicked back hair and sunnies, looking much the same as he did on the cover of their 1978 debut self-titled album; and Wolfgang holds his own on the bass without too much effort, though sacked bassist Michael Anthony’s backing vocals will ALWAYS be missed.

On the subject of vocals and drowning DLR’s out – we don’t think anyone expects Roth to be a classical singer with a booming pitch perfect voice: this is rock n’ fucking roll, baby, and surely most fans just want him to be his normal, motor-mouthed Diamond Dave Lee Roth self up there? The repeated issues with his vocals being drowned out were unprofessional, and with the same mixer on the desk as throughout Aerosmith’s set, which always sounded fantastic, there’s no reason for it to fluctuate so wildly.

“It’s finally happening – the big VH Down Under” laughs a scarily beaming Dave as they launch into She’s A Woman from latest album A Different Kind Of Truth. While the outfits and video screens are monochrome, the music is anything but – a kaleidoscopic explosion of drum beats, bass twangs and Eddie’s revolutionary coruscating guitar shredding.

A few tracks from the latest album (Tattoo, Chinatown) mingle with classics and a couple of surprises from the ‘good old days’ (Romeo Delight, Oh Pretty Woman, Somebody Get Me A Doctor) and during a fittingly fiery Everybody Wants Some, fireworks appear over the top of the stadium from the sporting event in the arena next door. Whilst they weren’t deliberate, they’re a fitting celebration of the fact that the band have finally made it here.

The video screens on either side and behind the stage suddenly flip to colour mid-song – maybe they weren’t meant to be B&W all this time? Coincidentally the drizzle starts up again, and Alex peels out a Latin fusion drum solo complete with backing taped horns.

You Really Got Me’s proto-metal riff is great, and there’s a nice scat-a-matazz* interplay between Roth and Eddie which helps show that (apart perhaps from the ever-louder guitar drowning out his frontman) there’s no obvious signs of rivalry from these old sparring partners.

DLR still has heaps of moves – he kicks, pirouets, parades and struts all over the stage, throws martial arts shapes (he’s big into that, y’know) and even though he’s not the long haired, near-acrobatic, bumless-leather-pant-wearing guy of three decades ago, he remains gregarious, charismatic and mightily entertaining.

When Alex’s tumbling drum riff arcs up, followed by Eddie’s drag-racing tear down the fretboard, the crowd go wild for favourite Hot For Teacher and while Van Halen may lack some of the extroverted flamboyance of Aerosmith, there’s no denying that their catalogue of tunes are equally beloved.

Dave pulls out an acoustic guitar to give his signature solo rendition of Ice Cream Man, proving that although his voice isn’t the strongest in the rock world, he can hold his own by working within his limitations. The band join in for the end of the song, and then it’s classics all the way with Panama, an extended, exceptional solo for Eddie that uses Eruption from their first album as it’s start and end point and never outstays it’s welcome like some solo spots do all too quickly, Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love and sort-of-encore Jump, with the keyboard parts taped or played offstage s Eddie can continue to impress on his axe.

Confetti cannons smother the front of stage area, Dave waves a huge car race finish flag, and eardrums are set to ring for days afterwards: but Van Halen finally made it here and delivered a whole lot of thrills with, it must be said, a few minor spills along the way. Musically it was neck and neck between the two headliners, with Van Halen being the more technically musically expert of the two; if they’d exuded more personality and got their sound at an even level from start to finish they may well have outdone Aerosmith on the show side of things, but this time round the winner by a nose was the Tyler & Perry & Co, as enjoyable as Van Halen were.

STONE MUSIC FESTIVAL, which continued through the next day featuring headliner Billy Joel, cited official attendance figures for Saturday at 16,000, and even though there appeared to be plenty of room for more, perhaps this inaugural festival will be enough to inspire consumer confidence and they will continue next year, maybe even eventually becoming a national roadshow a la Soundwave and The Big Day Out. We can only hope so, as Australia needs promoters who will bring out classic acts that tis country rarely or never has had the opportunity to experience live before.
* Thanks for the term ‘Scatt-a-matazz’ Kevin Jennings
Set List: Van Halen

Runnin’ With The Devil
She’s The Woman
Romeo Delight
Everybody Wants Some
Somebody Get Me A Doctor
Oh, Pretty Woman
Drum solo
You Really Got Me
Dance The Night Away
I’ll Wait
Hot For Teacher
Beautiful Girls
Ice Cream Man
Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love

Set List: Aerosmith

Draw The Line
Love In An Elevator
Oh Yeah
Livin’ On The Edge
Last Child
Rag Doll
Stop Messin’ Around
I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing
No More No More
What It Takes
Come Together
Dude Looks Like A Lady
Walk This Way

Dream On
Sweet Emotion
Set List: Jimmy Barnes

Love & Hate
I’d Die To Be With You Tonight
Lover Lover
Love Is Enough
Lay Down Your Guns
Resurrection Shuffle
Ride The Night Away
Merry Go Round
Flame Trees
No Second Prize
Driving Wheels
Seven Days
Khe Sanh
Working Class Man

Set List: Kings Of Chaos

Welcome To The Jungle
Youth Gone Wild
Highway Star
Rebel Yell
Pour Some Sugar On Me
Paradise City
Set List: The Living End

Second Solution
Roll On
Who’s Gonna Save Us?
Prisoner Of Society
White Noise
Raise The Alarm
West End Riot
Set List: Noiseworks

Take Me Back
Miles and Miles
Voice Of Reason
No Lies
Let It Go
Hot Chilli Woman
Rock n’ Roll
Set List: Buckcherry

Rescue Me
Lit Up
Crazy Bitch


Category: Live Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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