Midnight Oil

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Its singles " The Dead Heart " and " Beds Are Burning " illuminated the plight of indigenous Australians , with the latter charting at number one in multiple countries. Midnight Oil had continued global success with Blue Sky Mining and Earth and Sun and Moon — each buoyed by an international hit single in " Blue Sky Mine " and " Truganini ", respectively — and remained a formidable album chart presence in Australia until their disbandment.

The group held concerts sporadically during the remainder of the s, and announced a full-scale reformation in The band's music often broaches political subjects, and they have lent their support to multiple left-wing causes. Midnight Oil's legacy has grown since the late s, with the outfit being cited as an influence, and their songs covered , by numerous popular artists. Aside from their studio output, the group are celebrated for their energetic live performances, which showcase the frenetic dancing of Garrett.

While studying at Australian National University in Canberra, vocalist Peter Garrett [3] answered an advertisement for a spot in Farm, [4] [5] and by the band had started touring the east coast of Australia. Important to their development was manager Gary Morris, who successfully negotiated favourable contracts with tour promoters and record companies and frustrated rock journalists. Their first single "Run by Night" followed in December.

Gifford was himself replaced by Bones Hillman in Australian Top Ten singles were: [9] [10]. In December Garrett announced that he would seek to further his political career and Midnight Oil disbanded. But they would reform for two warm-up shows in Canberra leading up to their performance at one of the " Sound Relief " charity concerts, in honour of the victims of the "Black Saturday" fires in Victoria and floods in Queensland.

In their album Diesel and Dust ranked no. After changing its name to Midnight Oil, the group began to develop an aggressive, punk-hard rock sound for their pub rock audiences.

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The Midnight Oil LP disappointed some critics as it did not capture their powerful live performances, with undemanding playing and Garrett's vocals sounding stilted. Driven largely by commercial pressures to stay with reliable chart-toppers and teenage pop sensations, the Australian music industry in the mids cast a dismissive eye toward most bands with an alternative outlook. Although consistently championed by Sydney alternative rock station Double Jay and its FM band successor Triple J, Midnight Oil was almost totally ignored by Australia's mainstream commercial radio stations in their early career.

Manager Morris developed a reputation as one of the toughest managers and became notorious for banning critics or journalists, who were usually given free admission to concerts, for writing unfavourable reviews.


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Writer and critic Bruce Elder , in a mids newspaper review described their music as "narrow and xenophobic", and declared Midnight Oil were:. In retaliation, Morris banned Elder from Oils shows permanently. Elder later recanted, describing them as the only Australian band to have developed a truly Australian sound. The frostiness of Midnight Oil's relationship with the traditional music media quickly saw the band develop a strong "street cred" and a reputation for making no compromises with the music industry. In the early s the band was scheduled to appear on an episode of the all-powerful Australian Broadcasting Corporation ABC TV pop show Countdown , but on the day of the show they were "bumped" from the line-up.

Countdown required artists to mime their songs during 'live' performances, Midnight Oil and Morris insisted they perform completely live and have their sound engineer supervising — neither side backed down. In response, the group declared that they would never appear on the show, a promise they faithfully kept. Fans of the group were drawn to the band's "us and them" mindset, and fan loyalty to the Oils' ideas and music was fierce. Two venues at which they built significant fan bases from their early live performances were the Sydney northern beaches pub The Royal Antler at Narrabeen and the Bondi Lifesaver club near Sydney's Bondi Beach.

Politically oriented rock of the style produced by the band was something of a new concept for the Australian music scene, and Peter Garrett quickly earned a reputation as one of the most charismatic and outspoken musicians in the country. He recalled that there were dangers in playing the pub scene:.

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You get booked into a pub or hotel, say in the western suburbs of Sydney. Halfway through your set, two large, drunk truck drivers decide to have a fight. They're beating each other up and careening towards the corner where the band is set up. Meanwhile, everyone else is going, 'Aaah, turn it down, I'm trying to watch TV.

Their Australian breakthrough and first international recognition came in , with the release of 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 , which included the singles " Power and the Passion " and " Read about It ".

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The album peaked at No. The album remained in the Australian charts for weeks. The band also played their first shows outside Australia during this time, with the album being released in US on Columbia Records , where it charted in on the Billboard ; [18] in the UK it was released on CBS. Midnight Oil undertook more politically motivated benefit concerts, [5] including organising the Stop the Drop Nuclear Disarmament concert in which received a United Nations Media Peace Prize. In January , Midnight Oil performed Oils on the Water , a concert on Goat Island in Sydney Harbour to celebrate Triple J 's tenth birthday, [3] before a select audience of fans who had won tickets in a radio competition.

Peter Gifford left the band before the album's release due to extensive touring schedules, [5] and was replaced by Bones Hillman , formerly of The Swingers. Diesel and Dust peaked at No. There were concerns about Diesel and Dust and Midnight Oil's attempts to express indigenous issues to white urban audiences — namely, the question "who holds the power to tell whose history? However, the organisers insisted, arguing that the band would reach a wider audience within the predominantly Caucasian urban centres.

During — and — Garrett was the President of the Australian Conservation Foundation , whilst during — he was on the International Board of Greenpeace. Ghostwriters' line-ups — both live and in the studio — changed considerably through the years, with only founders Hirst and Grossman being mainstays. Between successive album releases Hirst and Grossman returned to active involvement with Oils and Gurus respectively.


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Scream in Blue Live , their June live album produced by Keith Walker, contained material from concerts between —, including "Progress" from their Exxon Valdez protest gig. Midnight Oil's Earth and Sun and Moon album, produced with Nick Launay, was released in April and also drew critical acclaim and international success, peaking at No. Morris responded with, "My suggestion to these people is to stop shooting themselves in the foot and let a band like Midnight Oil voice its appeal to White Australia on behalf of Black Australia".

Breathe was released in It was produced by Malcolm Burn and had a loose, raw style with almost a low-key sound. Midnight Oil again brought the politics of Reconciliation to the fore during their performance at the closing ceremony of the Sydney Summer Olympics. Then Prime Minister John Howard had triggered controversy that year with his refusal to embrace symbolic reconciliation and apologise to Indigenous Australians and members of the Stolen Generations.

But he had also claimed their reconciliation-themed single " Beds Are Burning " was his favourite Midnight Oil song. Midnight Oil performed the song at the ceremony with the word SORRY conspicuously printed on their clothes as a form of apology to indigenous people for their suffering under white settlement, and to highlight the issue to Howard, who was in the audience at the Olympic stadium as an estimated one billion people watched on television.

Garrett announced his decision to quit Midnight Oil on 2 December , to refocus on his political career.


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The other members of the band continued to work together but not under the Midnight Oil name, bringing the band's career to a close. After a warm up gig the previous evening at the Manly-Warringah Leagues Club the band, including Garrett, reunited to perform at the WaveAid concert on 29 January , to raise funds for the victims of the 26 December Indian Ocean tsunami. They spoke to us — and to the world — in a uniquely Australian way.

Rob Hirst in his acceptance speech thanked his family, bandmates, and support from fellow Australians. He also lamented the fact that unlike the Vietnam war which had inspired some of the best protest songs ever written, very few had been written in reaction to the invasion of Iraq. On 4 May it was announced on the band's website that Midnight Oil intended to reform and embark on a tour in their first concerts in Australia since , and their first world tour since After three warm up concerts in their native Australia, the band toured Brazil, the U. In March , the band announced the release of a new documentary film entitled Midnight Oil: Directed by Ray Argall, the film primarily consists of previously-unseen footage from the band's tour in support of Red Sails in the Sunset.

Both shows at the Domain the band also performed there on November 17 were filmed and recorded, being turned into the live album and film Armistice Day: Live at the Domain, Sydney. The film was given a one-night cinematic release on October 24, Midnight Oil initially faced resistance from the mainstream media , [52] but went on to sell 12 million albums by You know: life on the road and the inconvenience of VD. Dicks and chicks. Faux Americana. Finally someone was playing stuff that was musically idiosyncratic, fresh and strong.

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For thousands of years it was a ceremonial site for the local Gadigal people. In the 20th century the Domain became known as the home of soapbox oratory and political rallies.

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From the Great Depression to the Vietnam War this is the place where people came together to debate the issues that shaped modern Australia. And so, after 77 performances to over a half million people around the world, this is where The Great Circle Tour would finally come to a close. Two hometown shows in this special place.