ATTENDING, let alone reviewing, a concert when you’re not a fan of the main act is a challenge.
But being a diehard fan of the support act tends to soften the blow.
I’ve never understood the appeal of Matchbox Twenty, and I am well aware that I am in the minority in that regard. But I admit they put on a good show. I would even go so far as to say they sound better live than recorded. Certainly, in my humble opinion, Rob Thomas’s voice is more agreeable to the ear in a live setting.
Fans of all ages descended on Hope Estate in their thousands – by bus, car and even helicopter – to see the celebrated US band, best known for worldwide hits such as Push, 3am, Unwell, Bent, Long Day and Real World.
And judging by conversations I had after the concert, they did not leave disappointed.
Matchbox Twenty are a tight unit. Professional. They played all the hits and mixed up the set. Thomas sounded convincing when he thanked the crowd for coming and said it was a ‘‘beautiful night to be in the Hunter Valley’’.
Thomas is an intense figure on stage. I don’t recall him smiling, and he’s not one to crack jokes or ham it up with the bass player or drummer.
He takes his music seriously. His facial expressions bordered on the tortured at times, and his eyes had a thousand-yard stare that sent many female hearts aflutter. Indeed, a friend of mine said after the concert that she thought he was singing just to her (and looking at her, and only her). Right!
There was just a hint of humour when Thomas acknowledged INXS and said: ‘‘We’re just ultimately cooler because we know INXS’’.
And the band’s longevity can perhaps be explained by Thomas’s assertion that ‘‘us playing music is the greatest thing in life’’.
A class act, and hard to fault on the night.
INXS were fantastic, the longstanding members marching on stage in military jackets and belting out beats on a number of drums before being joined by new frontman Ciaran Gibbon and launching into Suicide Blonde.
Gibbon impressed. He has the voice without the ego and engaged well with the audience. He also seemed to genuinely enjoy himself when singing Original Sin, What You Need, Disappear, Kiss the Dirt, Beautiful Girl, Need You Tonight, Designate, Mystify, Kick, Devil Inside, New Sensation, Never Tear Us Apart and Don’t Change.
What a set list, and what a band – even without the legendary Michael Hutchence. They even played a new song, Sugar, cementing their intention to remain a presence on the music scene. Kirk Pengilly on the saxophone is still a crowd favourite.
Evermore started the night’s entertainment with a solid set, inviting everyone to ‘‘come up and say hi at the merch tent’’.
An unpretentious line-up of class acts.