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Great Southern Land 2022. The Concert Series (Live Nation Australia)
Sidney Myer Music Bowl – Melbourne Feb 11, 2023
Review: Colette Imison. Photos: Jason Rosewarne

Back in July 2022, Icehouse announced they would be celebrating the 40th Anniversary of what is without a doubt one of Australia’s most classic anthems ‘Great Southern Land’ by kicking off the Great Southern Land 2022 – The Concert Series Tour. Days after their opening ceremony performance at the T20 Cricket World Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, lead singer Iva Davies regrettably announced that the much anticipated Melbourne show scheduled for November 19, 2022 had to be rescheduled due to him contracting Covid. Sadly, the effects of the infection stretched out for some time, finding Davies struggling with breathing, which in turn hindered his ability to perform. Needless to say, many fans and Icehouse themselves anticipated the rescheduled show that filled the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne on Saturday night.

The original line up was scheduled to bring us The Psychedelic Furs first tour in 16 years, Mark Seymour and The Undertows, Motor Ace and Emma Donovan & The Putbacks. Unfortunately, slight adjustments had to be made for the rescheduled dates. Motor Ace retained their original support slot, plus Melbourne’s own Frente and Fremantle band Eskimo Joe joined the line-up.

Weather-wise, Melbourne had recently forgotten that it’s summer but with the temperature gauge hitting a perfect 33ºC, the locals showed up in droves for this open-air show at the legendary outdoor venue. Hitting the stage at 5pm, alt rock unit Motor Ace took to the stage to warm the crowd up with their high-energy performance. Motor Ace recently announced the cancellation of their Five Star Laundry 20th Anniversary Tour, that was due to kick off this month, so this was the perfect chance to for Motor Ace fans to catch the band on home turf. Fans weren’t disappointed with the band playing fan favourites ‘Five Star Laundry’, ‘Keeping Secrets’ and ‘Siamese’ in their set list.

Having recently celebrated the 30th Anniversary release of their smash hit debut album ‘Marvin The Album’, 90’s Indie Pop favourites ‘Frente’, led by the quirky playful vocals of Angie Hart, delivered a relaxed but enjoyable set.

Kicking it off with ‘Girl’ from Marvin The Album (1992), found the band feature a multitude of tracks from the album and other EP’s such as Aria Award winning ‘Ordinary Angels’ (Clunk EP (Platinum)/Marvin The Album -1992) and ‘Labour of Love’ (Labour of Love EP – 1993), which reached #7 on the Aria Charts.

Rather fond of covers, meshing in some of Barry White lyrics from ‘Can’t get Enough of Your Love Baby’ into Frente’s own track ‘Lonely’ (Lonely EP -1994); the band also performed ‘Something Stupid’, a Carson Parks and Gaile Foote cover made famous by Frank and Nancy Sinatra. Hart then mentioned the influence of 80’s electro-rock band ‘New Order’.

Keeping with Frente’s original stunning acoustic version of ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’, the soothing tones of Hart’s vocals certainly had the audience taking in the heartfelt lyrics of the song, a far cry from New Order’s version that filled dance floors back in the days of its original release in 1986.

Ending their set with their colourful bouncy track that won a Logie Award for Most Popular Music Video,‘Accidently Kelly Street’ was so popular that the D-Generation released a parody version of the song. King of parody Weird Al Yankovic once stated that you know you’ve made it once your song becomes a parody track. Hart introduced the tune as the song that can now be purchased in book form, having been released as a Children’s Book in 2022 by Briony Stewart.

Taking the vibe up a few notches, Eskimo Joe came on and brought some serious energy to the stage. Lead Singer/Bass Player Kavyen Temperley looked seriously sharp in his well-tailored Rockabilly get up, complemented by his jet black quiff styled hair. Temperley also sported a well-coordinated Warwick Star Bass that tastefully matched his white jacket.

Joined on stage with Joel Quartermain (Guitar), Stuart MacLeod (Guitar), Timothy Nelson (Keys) and stand out drummer Paul Keenan, Eskimo Joe were not only well polished musically, they truly know how to entertain. Starting up with ‘Sarah’ (Black Fingernails, Red Wine – 2006), the band delivered an amazing set that had me well and truly converted by the end.

I’ve always felt that a musician/bands live performance is where their credibility lies and Eskimo Joe, well…they’ve got that something special about them on stage.

With some solid drumming by Keenan during ‘New York’ (Black Fingernails, Red Wine), Temperley’s banter and stories before each track gave the audience an insight into some of their songs. Before delivering ‘London Bombs’, Temperley explained how they were in Queensland when Breaking News was announced that London had been attacked by terrorists. In turn this found himself and band members concerned about loved ones in London, which lead pen to paper and a song was produced.

After gathering a crowd vote on a ‘for or against’ Miley Cyrus, Temperley explains that the film ‘The Last Song’ was the beginnings of the Hemsworth/Cyrus union. Before leading into the track, it was explained that the Eskimo Joe’s song ‘Setting Sun’ featured in the final credits for the film, which in hindsight is something pretty special for a group of boys from Fremantle.

Reminiscing about the time they last performed at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl as part of the ‘Make Poverty History’ concert back in 2006, Temperley explains how the group were all star struck by seriously famous bands ‘U2’ and ‘Pearl Jam’ when they performed Neil Young’s ‘Rockin in the Free World’. Temperley went on to ask the crowd to unify by putting their arms around the people next to them before breaking into ‘How Does it Feel’.

Given that a majority of the tracks performed during the evening came straight off the ‘Black Fingernails, Red Wine’ Album, it goes without saying that the party had certainly kicked right off by the time the band belted out the title track.

Following it up with ‘Love is a Drug’ (Ghosts of the Past – 2011), the final song delivered by the band was ‘From the Sea’ (A Song is a City – 2004). Without a doubt, Eskimo Joe is a band I would never hesitate to see live again and they were a fantastic choice to lead into the band that everyone came to see … ICEHOUSE.

Released on August 30th in 1982 from the soon to be multi-platinum selling album ‘Primitive Man’, ‘Great Southern land’ was a track that in time would become one of Australia’s most iconic anthems.

Little could a pub-rock band that formed in 1977 called ‘Flowers’ know that upon a name change to ‘Icehouse’, some twists to their sound, and the numerous hit making albums that followed, they would be celebrating the anniversary of ‘Great Southern Land’ in the form of a 40th Anniversary Tour.

With Great Southern Land, Iva Davies wanted a song that spoke the truth about Australia, minus the cliches. To date the song has been used to highlight discussions about native title, has had Qantas name a 787-9 Dreamliner after it and is the walk out soundtrack for our Australian Cricket Team. 40 Years on and Great Southern Land couldn’t be more poignant in times where there is a growing movement for change and acknowledgement of our country’s ‘history’, where our First Nations people have been betrayed and forgotten.

As the lights dimmed and the classic 80’s smoke machine pumped a haze onto the stage and into the crowd, the band walked onto the stage followed by cheers and loud applause. The crowd upped the ante when the only original member and lead singer of Icehouse Iva Davies took to the stage.

Announcing that he and the band have been looking forward to this since his bout with Covid, Icehouse kicked off with the track ‘Icehouse’ which was a single released by ‘Flowers’ on their 1980 album also titled ‘Icehouse’. Needless to say, this is where the inspiration for the name change derived from.

Joining Davies (who donned his guitar for a majority of the show) were long standing band member Paul Gildea (Guitar), Hugo Lee (Saxophone), Paul Wheeler (drums) and Michael Paynter, who doesn’t require an introduction to many (especially Barnsey fans). Similar to Davies, Paynter is a multi-instrumentalist who is credited for vocals, guitar and keyboard and tonight shone on them all.

With a huge screen elevated at the rear of the stage, Icehouse kicked into track ‘Uniform’ (Primitive Man – 1982). The screen emblazoned the word UNIFORM in red text, flashing components of lyrics upon the screen as the band were only warming us up for what can only be described as an evening I’ll always hold close to my heart.

After belting out ‘Fatman’ (Icehouse – 1980), a synth heavy intro commenced, which found ears prick up and cheers elevate as the drum beats lead into ‘Electric Blue’ (Man of Colours – 1987). Perfectly timing his vocals to the official video clip that lit up the rear screen, Davies had the crowd eating from the palm of his hand. The accompanying video clip took the audience right back to the days of the track that Davies co-wrote together with John Oates (Hall & Oates), who threatened to release the track himself if Davies refused to do so.

Thankfully Davies released the track as the second single from Icehouse’s ‘Man of Colours’ album and it reached #1 on the Australian charts, #7 in the US, #4 in New Zealand, #10 in Canada and #53 on the UK Charts, catapulting the bands success internationally.

It was during Electric Blue that saxophone player Hugo Lee’s skills came to play. There’s sincerely something magical about the authenticity of classic 80’s songs when the sax slides in, and Lee had some stand out moments throughout the night on various tunes such as ‘Hey Little Girl’ (Primitive Man – 1982), ‘No Promises’(Measure for Measure – 1986) and the superb lengthy sax intro leading into ‘Don’t Believe Anymore’(Sidewalk – 1984).

Icehouse delivered all the hits and their memorable tracks throughout the evening, where ‘Crazy’ (Man of Colours – 1987) featured an on-point guitar solo by Davies and ‘Touch The Fire’ (Man of Colours – 1987) had the crowds up on their feet and belting out the chorus.

Hands down one of the most stand out moments of the evening came from Michael Paynter. Joined on stage with Davies, both with acoustic guitars in tow, the rear screen lit up with Matisse art styled flowers, where those in the know, knew the albums title track ‘Man of Colours’ was about to chime out. The surprising element of this performance was that it was Paynter whose star shone brightly as he took control of the vocals of the track. Paynter took this song to the next level with his flawless silky tones, that drew you in and found mouths gasped open as he did the track the justice it deserves. Growing up in Sydney, classically trained Davies musical roots extended past the bagpipes when he took up the oboe in high school. Needless to say, true Icehouse fans burst into applause when Davies picked up his oboe midway through Man of Colours, while Paynter lead the charge.

After playing ‘Love in Motion’ (Primitive Man), the band brought the audience the song many had waited for. With the soft sounds of the synth intro, as soon as that drum beat kicked in I felt my tears well up. 40 years on and ‘Great Southern Land’ still evokes emotions in me and this is where it must be said that Iva Davies voice is just as solid as it was 40 years ago. Not a person was seated during this phenomenal track, that will forever be a part of the musical history of our wonderful country. With the screen depicting images from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, to kangaroos and Indigenous Art, ‘Great Southern Land’ is truly the song that reminds you of Australia and how absolutely iconic this song is and Icehouse is as a band. The atmosphere was perfect. A warm summers night, listening to that song live in the open air, under the stars, under our own celestial Southern Cross. It truly reminds you how special this country of ours is and how fortunate we are to have bands like Icehouse produce timeless music that evokes memories and emotions like the greats.

Changing up the flow and reverting back to their beginnings, the bands first single (circa Flowers) ‘Can’t Help Myself’ (Icehouse -1980) got everyone up and dancing, before Iva announced their final song ‘We Can Get Together’ (Icehouse’s second single from the ‘Icehouse’ Album).

Davies welcomed Eskimo Joe’s Kavyen Temperley onto the stage, where he joined in on the vocals with Davies and took the lead with the in-between ‘wahoos’ on the track, and both exuding true showmanship.

Of course, no concert is complete without an encore and the evening found Icehouse deliver a cover of another iconic Australian band – The Angels track ‘Marseilles; Ending the evening with a final track from their highest selling album Man of Colours ‘Nothing Too Serious’, which without a doubt left the crowd on a complete and utter high, that I can personally vouch for and am still coming down from a day later.


1) Icehouse
2) Uniform
3) Fatman
4) Electric Blue
5) Hey Little Girl
6) Mr Big
7) Crazy
8) No Promises
9) Touch The Fire
10) Man of Colours
11) Don’t Believe Anymore
12) Love In Motion
13) Great Southern Land
14) Can’t Help Myself
15) We Can Get Together (with Kavyen Temperley)

16) Marseilles (The Angels cover)
17) Nothing Too Serious


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