Perhaps it’s totally wrong to describe the Red Hot Summer tour as a snowball, picking up more snow and other detritus as it rolls downhill and gaining momentum as it progresses, but that’s exactly how the 2018 programme has evolved. This year the organisers have included W.A. In the mix and are rolling out their classic rock juggernaut to regional centres across the country. Every early show a sellout and others looking as though tickets will become a scarce commodity.
The killer line-up at Mornington Racecourse on Saturday 20th of January included Moving Pictures, Chocolate Starfish, Screaming Jets, Baby Animals, The Angels and Suzi Quatro. Turnstile to Stage the punters were well settled into their self-designated picnic and dance floor even before the first notes hit the air.
UDL cans aloft, there wasn’t a shortage of fun to be had, or memories evoked as fans danced and sang to hits of yore. In fact, any one of the bands could have simply appeared to play instrumentals and allowed the crowd to fill in the words. The vibe of the summers of our youth was back. Rock has never been so friendly or unifying.
Awesome it was to see bands who’ve been through so much shit that it’s amazing any one of them still exists. Take Baby Animals as an example, with Suze Di Marche’s vocal fold nodules, the band’s dissolution and reformation. There they were ripping out ‘Early Warning’ just as though it was written and recorded yesterday. Then there was The Angels with the passing of bassist Chris Bailey in 2013 and Doc Neeson in 2014. Who would have believed anyone would be singing the refrain to ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’ (no way, get fucked, fuck off) in 2018? Dave Gleeson, the new-old face of The Angels having kept the band alive on the pub and club scene has worked incredibly hard to make both Screaming Jets and The Angels a legitimate concern.
By the end of the day we were waiting restlessly for another rock icon. The only act of the day that cannot claim Australian roots, it would be fair to say that Suzi Quatro can claim Australia as her third home. She has visited our shores more times than most other musicians and was successful here even when other markets lacked appreciation of her eclectic talents. In her late sixties, she has the defiant air that still makes her a convincing woman of rock. The energy tipped into songs like ‘Can the Can’ and ‘Rock Hard’ is uncompromising, and while there are a few extra ballads in her sets these days, punters would never say she was any less than she was back in the day.
So as the sun set on Mornington Racecourse we left dusty, tired, sunburned and satisfied that it’s still possible to conjure up the feeling of the days when we had few responsibilities, the determination to have fun in the sun, and to totally immerse ourselves in the music we loved. It’s nice to know that some things change but, in essence, stay very much the same.