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BACK IN THE REDNECK WONDERLAND


The sea was calm and so were the band members. No jokes about pouring (Midnight) oil on troubled waters to enable a world tour here for a self-described "catalogue act" who, said Peter Garrett, are still "brothers in agitation and music".

Or even asking if the "out of town tryouts" in South America, the USA and Europe from (appropriately enough) April 25 were to make sure they could stand each other before the Australian shows which climax in the Domain in Sydney on (appropriately enough) Armistice Day, November 11.

"The chemistry is all intact," said drummer and songwriter Rob Hirst.

But then, as Midnight Oil stood together on board the Mari Nawi in Sydney Harbour, in front of the indigenous flag to announce their first tour in two decades, it was with remembering that unlike the Eagles or Sex Pistols, or even the Rolling Stones, there had never been bad blood among these blood brothers.

Jim Moginie, Hirst - the pair whose band, The Farm, took on Garrett as singer in 1975 - Martin Rotsey and "new kid" Bones Hillman (who joined a decade into the band's life, in 1987) don't hate each other. Not even a little bit.

Ok, as Garrett said, they "are not the Brady Bunch", and never short of strong opinions about and to each other. And Hirst admits he said no initially last year when at a lunch at Rotsey's Garrett asked "how about it?"

But they never said they would only play again "when hell freezes over", ala Eagles. Nor are they calling this reunion "the filthy lucre tour" and admitting it was only money making this possible, ala the Pistols.

Frankly there would be nowhere to hide grumpiness when they play a so far secret gig in a Sydney pub in April before flying to Porto Alegre in Brazil. Do it properly or don't do it at all.

"We have never felt better, fresher, nastier, sweeter," said Garrett, confirming Hirst's claim they have been rehearsing some 160-170 songs.

Sure, there had been some expressions of disappointment when Garrett quit music for politics in 2002. And maybe a mildly caustic line from one of the others about how any talk of an Oils reformation was rather forgetting the fact the others had stayed working as musicians in different projects.

But really, you would probably find more acrimony in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Rotsey said little, Hillman not much more but the similarly quiet Moginie did note that this most political (and educated) of agit-rock bands still are "relevant, au courant".

"We have plenty to write about," said Hirst of a time of not just Trump but European social upheaval and rising racism.

And yes there will likely be another album. May as well when they keep having what Garrett called "hallelujah moments" in rehearsals.

But first there's a pub gig in Sydney, South America ... and the Big Pineapple Field on the Gold Coast.

#MidnightOil

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