For all the sky’s gloominess, it never really threatened to rain at A Day On The Green at Rochford Winery in the Yarra Valley on Saturday afternoon. As the occasional ray of sunshine punctured the grey mist, 21 year old Tash Sultana’s dub-based rhythms provided a perfect soundtrack for the bean-bag and deck-chair toting audience. However before anyone could get too accustomed to a springtime chill-out, Tash ripped an extraordinary blast of guitar shred to wake us out of complacency. Is there anything this girl can’t do? Guitar, keyboards, loops … even pan flute for god’s sake … and her voice packs a punch too.
A vibrant version of her single Jungle proved that Tash can also pen a decent tune. Unfortunately, I’d missed opening act Adalita. She was finishing up her set in a haze of feedback just as we entered the venue. It was apt that Tash followed though, next in line to take the baton as Australia’s rock ‘n’ roll queen.
The Preatures play a simplistic but snappy style of pop-rock, the kind that gets an audience like this up onto their feet. Lead singer Isabella Manfredi shared her excitement at being part of a bill which included Garbage’s Shirley Manson, one of her three music heroes. The other two she claimed, were Chrissie Hynde and Chrissie Amphlett, a neat segue to the band’s energetic version of the Divinyls’ Boys In Town. The hit, Is This How You Feel?, came soon after and for the first time during the afternoon, there were probably as many punters on their feet as lounging out.
It seems like it wasn’t so long ago that The Temper Trap had left our shores in search of a larger, global audience. As we now know, they found it pretty quickly with their first album attracting much attention in the UK and America. Album number two achieved only moderate acceptance but their 2016 release, Thick As Thieves placed the guys well and truly back on track in their quest for success. More than anything, this Rochford performance showed just how far the band has progressed from a live perspective, as they radiated a huge stadium-sized sound across the Yarra Valley. Focussing heavily on material from their current album, Dougy Mandagi and his mates turned in a tight, punchy set, engaging the crowd and adding many a new fan in the process. Unsurprisingly it was their breakthrough song Sweet Disposition which provided the knockout punch.
A new addition to the Rochford Winery for this gig was the venue’s new side-stage restaurant The Deck, built on a pond and providing a luxurious escape for those with VIP access tickets. As the sun began to set and diners scampered back to the venue proper, Garbage took to the stage and kicked off with Subhuman, a 1995 B side, followed soon after by the first of many hits for the night, Stupid Girl. Wearing a pink wig, Manson struck vogue-like poses, smiled and paced in circles, even tolerating a sea of smart phone photography but the famous fire was never far from her belly. Noticing the fence dividing the A& B grade ticket holders, Manson took the opportunity to slam the government’s border security policy, telling the audience to “listen to your heart not your government”. As darkness descended and the set drew to a close, Shirley thanked Australian audiences for being the first in the world to latch onto the band, which was made possible by Michael Gudinski’s UK Mushroom Records office signing the band. It was the success of Garbage that also saved Gudinski’s UK operation from financial woes in the early 90s, so it was apt that Michael was in the audience front and centre, fist-pumping the air to the band’s last few tunes. Manson also paid tribute to the scenic beauty of the venue and its surrounds, telling the audience that a winery tour was a first for the band. A particularly biting version of Vow left the audience in no doubt that Garbage is as energetic and relevant as ever. It Only Happens When It Rains further enforced the message.
A long summer of winery-style rock continues over the next few months with A Day On The Green gigs headlined by Don Henley, James Taylor, John Farnham, B52’s with Simple Minds, Blondie with Cyndi Lauper and much more. Visit www.adayonthegreen.com.au for details.