24 February 2019 at Stage 88
The Red Hot Summer Tour rolled into Canberra, Commonwealth park on Sunday bringing with it a veritable who’s who of Australian rock. They were all here to support the Rock Queen that is better known as Suzi Quatro
Canberra’s weather gods were smiling on the travelling festival with a beautiful, sunny day to die for. The venue is Stage 88 and when I get there the atmosphere is quite relaxed with Paul, the MC starting to warm up the decent sized crowd. The venue itself is a reasonable size that will allow around 3000 patrons max and a good majority have set up their seating with a good-sized standing only patch in the front of the stage.
I’m there for about 20 minutes setting up the camera gear before Moving Pictures hit the stage. I grew up listening to these guys in the early 80’s and was a big fan of a number of their hits. The guys were tight in their 30-minute set playing some of their greatest songs like Busting Loose, Sweet Cherie and the always magic, What About Me? Funnily enough, lead singer, Alex Smith introduced their biggest hit as a cover. I actually had someone ask me if that was a cover of the Nollsy (Shannon Noll) song and I made them aware that this was the Original and The Best.
Next up were Chocolate Starfish who kicked off proceedings with an amazing rendition of Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell. These guys were here to party and proceeded to rock out the place. Adam Thompson made numerous ventures out to the standing area cajoling patrons to start rocking. Another highlight of the set was when Adam went running around the stage with the lead guitarist, Zakk Zedras on his shoulders. The guys finished with You’re so Vain and transitioned it smoothly into a cover of Four Non-Blondes – What’s Going On?
My wife Tracey now has joined me in the pit to help with the photography duties just as Jon Stevens is about to kick off. Stevens performed some of his greatest hits from the Noiseworks days and also a number of INXS hits to cover his time with them. The very warm, bright sun was hitting more of the stage by now, leading to a remark from Jon about comparing with Vampires. Performing on a hot sunny afternoon is most definitely not the norm. Despite that, Jon’s voice is still as amazing as it ever was and the crowd absolutely ate it up. They were singing along in fine voice which was a good thing when an issue with a fan and cords interrupted proceedings. Being the true professional, Jon continued to sing and work along with the crowd until power and sound were restored.
Next up were the lads from Newcastle (well two of them) known as The Screaming Jets. The Screaming Jets have been around for 30 years now, quite an impressive effort. I’ve followed Dave Gleesons’s career from afar ever since that moment at the Cardiff Worker’s Disco where he got bit by the performing bug. The Jets are pure Rock ‘n Roll and put on quite the show. As an added bonus, MC, Paul said that the fan that rocked the most out in the crowd would be the recipient of a 30 years t shirt that had been signed by all the band. The band belted out their hits over the 45-minute set playing such a mix between long unheard original Sister Tease and more well-known greats as October Grey, C’mon, Eve of Destruction and Better leaving nothing on stage. The winner turned out to be my mate Choppy, that wasn’t a surprise for me as we had been to many a Screaming Jets concert, so I knew what he was like.
It’s now time for Baby Animals. Suze DeMarchi came out asking the crowd who had seen them when they’d been to Canberra previously, reminiscing that they were probably all students who used to frequent the old ANU bar when the band was last here. With that, the band launch into a succession of some of their greatest hits. Songs like Rush You and Early Warning went down like a treat with the crowd in the standing area bouncing around and singing along. DeMarchi’s voice is amazing and the band perform like a well-oiled machine having a lot of fun up on stage which is reflected by the crowd.
The Angels take the stage and the crowd is right up for it. The band is now fronted by Dave Gleeson, but it is a real family affair with original guitarists and founder John Brewster and his brother Rick Brewster, now with Sam Brewster on bass and not forgetting the heartbeat of the machine Nick Norton on drums. Playing some of their most amazing tracks, Shadow Boxer, No Secrets, Am I Ever Going to See Your Face Again and Take a Long Line. There’s no denying frontman Gleeson’s antics on stage bring raw energy to the band, however it is an absolute pleasure to take in the guitar mastery that the brothers Brewster bring, making the extreme look so easy.
Finally, the sun has gone down and we are heading to the headline, the Queen of Rock, Suzi Quatro. Suzi may have passed 55 years in this industry, but she still knows how to rock. Playing a bass guitar that was almost as big as her with aplomb, she showed a lot of younger rockers how to get out and have a ball. Backed ably by a very good band she ran through a number of her well known hits, including Can the Can, 48 Crash, Devil Gate Drive and Stumblin’ In where Dave Gleeson got his third act of the night as the other singer in the duet. Suzi also brought new material to the crowd from her new album coming out in March 2019, No Control, which went down a treat. She played for a bit over an hour and the crowd loved every minute.
Congrats to the team behind the Red Hot Summer Tour event for bringing it to Canberra and Canberrans for getting out and supporting it. If we want good music in the Capital, then more people need to do what Jon Steven’s encouraged, get out and support Live Music.
Tracey and I leave the venue exhausted but having experienced an amazing day.
Long Live Rock ‘n Roll.
Line-up: Suzi Quatro, The Angels, Baby Animals, The Screaming Jets, Jon Stevens, Moving Pictures, Chocolate Starfish
Reviewer: Paul Kerr
Photocredits: Hold Still Photography