Life & Style Weekend - - READ -

Bathed in blue light, the Tanks Arts Cen­tre could pass for a gi­ant fish tank. The con­verted World War II naval oil stor­age tank, and the lush rain­for­est back­drop of the Cairns Botanic Gar­dens, are the per­fect back­drop for a con­cert ded­i­cated to the Great Bar­rier Reef. “We’re not go­ing to be rock­ers tonight; we’re go­ing to be trop­i­cal fish,” Mid­night Oil’s drum­mer Rob Hirst jokes back­stage. MAX cam­eras were there to cap­ture the ben­e­fit show dubbed Oils at the Reef. This is no or­di­nary Oils show. The band mem­bers hand-picked a se­lec­tion of songs re­lated to their lat­est cam­paign for in­creased pro­tec­tions for Aus­tralia’s great nat­u­ral won­der. “We have a lot of songs that di­rectly in­volve the en­vi­ron­ment if not the reef in par­tic­u­lar,” Hirst says. “We’ll play all those and a few good old-fash­ioned protest songs – there are a few of those in the can­non.” Un­like their other shows on the band’s world tour, don’t ex­pect to hear Beds Are Burn­ing or Power and the Pas­sion. Blue Sky Mine did make the cut, though, along­side Koala Sprint, Shak­ers and Movers, Some­times, Dream­world and the set-closer Progress. “What tends to hap­pen is you find some have got a bit more longevity than oth­ers,” Pe­ter Gar­rett says. “You think ‘Why didn’t we play that one more?’ We have found some hid­den trea­sures.” In­ter­pret­ing ev­ery gui­tar riff with his sig­na­ture dance moves, Gar­rett, 64, ramped up the en­ergy in the show’s sec­ond half, step­ping off stage briefly to don a Stop Adani T-shirt. It’s a sym­pa­thetic crowd, of course, but that’s a good thing. Die-hard fans lapped up the chance to hear a more ob­scure Oils set list and their en­thu­si­asm was in­fec­tious. “We’re past the point where we have to fig­ure out what goes where – that’s a good feel­ing,” Gar­rett says. “The per­for­mances can just un­fold re­ally nat­u­rally.”

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