Sydneysiders woke to a cold, gloomy and very wet morning on Saturday 20th April. Not the most auspicious start for a big, two day outdoor rock festival. Especially as Saturday’s event was due to start at around midday and continue til well into the night. But that didn’t stop die-hard music fans that had been anxiously waiting to see so many acts on one bill, in particular two of the biggest bands in the world, Van Halen and Aerosmith. The rock and roll faithful stood in front of the stage for eleven hours, sometimes in the pouring rain and always in the chilly air. I was grateful that I had a seat in the stands, under cover. It was still cold but at least it was dry.
There were two stages set up; the main stage inside the stadium and another stage outside where the independent artists performed. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see any of the acts on the independent stage so I’m not able to review that part of the show but if any of our readers were there and you would like to let us know about it, we would love to hear from you.
The doors had barely opened when The Superjesus kicked off the first day of the event which was, essentially, a day for some hard and fast, driving rock. At this point, the rain was still coming down and it was not looking too promising for the rest of the day. It was a tough time slot for the band that nonetheless did their best and played a very tight set to get the show on the road. They were followed by former Ramones drummer, Richie Ramone who delivered a short set of punk rock in an effort to warm up the crowd for the next act on the agenda, LA hard rock outfit, Buckcherry. It seems that this band has something of a following already here in Oz, and many of them were there on Saturday to cheer them on.
As the stage was being prepared for the next act, Noiseworks, small patches of blue sky began to creep in over the stadium and the rain had stopped for more than thirty minutes. Things were looking up and a few more people started to walk through the doors to see one of the country’s favourite bands in action. Noiseworks delivered a strong set, kicking off with the emotion filled ‘Take Me Back’. The set included a new, as yet unreleased song, ‘Let it Go’, featuring Jon on acoustic guitar and, of course they played a good selection of their hits including ‘No Lies’, ‘Touch’ and the punchy ‘Hot Chilli Woman’ before wrapping it all up nicely with a great cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock and Roll’.
Next was three piece punk/rockabilly band The Living End who I had never really seen perform before this but I was impressed. They started off with ‘Second Solution’ and ‘Roll On’ and my favourite, ‘Who’s Gonna Save Us?’ At one point, the music was disrupted and I have to admit that I missed what happened here but, from what I could tell, it seemed that Chris Cheney had broken a guitar string, forcing the band to stop for a few brief minutes but, like the true professionals they are, they picked it up again and continued, playing to perfection.
One band that really created a buzz on Saturday was Kings of Chaos. If you are scratching your head trying to figure out who they are, check out these credentials. This is a supergroup in the true meaning of the word. Kings of Chaos features Sebastian Bach from Skid Row, Deep Purple’s Glenn Hughes, Steve Stevens (who played with Billy Idol), Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott and Gilbey Clarke, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum (all from Guns N Roses).
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The Kings opened their set with the Guns ‘N’ Roses song, ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ followed by Skid Row’s ‘Youth Gone Wild’, both with Sebastian Bach on vocals. Bach, Hughes and Elliott all took turns at lead vocals with Hughes demonstrating his amazing vocal capacity on two Deep Purple classics, ‘Highway Star’ and ‘Burn’ which was a definite highlight of the night. Then Joe Elliott walked on stage to sing Billy Idol’s hit ‘Rebel Yell’ and he was joined by Hughes and Bach for the Def Leppard song, ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’.
Kings of Chaos were one hell of a tight band and they definitely won over the audience on Saturday. Before leaving the stage, they announced that they planned to return to Australia in January 2014 for their own headlining tour. No doubt, that will be a sellout.
By the time Jimmy Barnes started his set, the numbers in the crowd had swelled and the vibe was intensifying in anticipation of what was yet to come. With flames of fire projecting on the big screen behind him, Barnesy belted out a set packed with a combination of his solo hits, including ‘I’d Die to Be With You Tonight’ and ‘Ride the Night Away’ as well as some of the better known Chisel classics like ‘Flame Trees’ and ‘Khe Sanh’ and finished with his early solo hit ‘Working Class Man’.
It’s been more than twenty years since Aerosmith last toured Australia and it’s a shame that they were forced to cancel their one and only headlining concert in Sydney. However, all was not lost when the band was eventually added to the Stone Music Festival line-up for Saturday. They had to play second fiddle to Van Halen, who had already been given headlining status on the day but the boys from Boston certainly proved that they don’t take second place to anyone! The atmosphere could only be described as electric when Aerosmith took to the stage. Their set was ninety minutes of high energy rock, enhanced by the colour and flamboyance of lead singer, Steve Tyler. He might be a man in his mid-sixties but age, apparently, shall not weary him.
Tyler took to the stage, resplendent in trademark long scarf, top hat and sunglasses and a long flowing coat over tight jeans that showed off flashes of leg and that, from where I was sitting at least, looked like they were held together with gaffer tape. The band opened with ‘Draw the Line’ followed by their big hit ‘Love in an Elevator’. The set was mostly made up of older hits but there were a few more recent numbers in there as well, including ‘Oh Yeah’ from their 2012 album ‘Music from Another Dimension’ and included a tribute to those who lost their lives in the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon in their hometown earlier that week.
Their big ballad that was also a very big hit, ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’ was one of the highlights of the night and it was followed by another highlight; a version of The Beatles’ ‘Come Together’, followed by ‘Dude (Looks Like a Lady)’. The set closer was another one of the band’s biggest hits ‘Walk This Way’. When Aerosmith left the stage, the crowd went wild, demanding more … and they got it. The guys returned and Tyler, seated at a white grand piano, began to play. For the encore, they served up two more big ones: ‘Dream On’ and ‘Sweet Emotion’ and they left us wondering how on Earth we could ever have allowed their own show here in Sydney to be cancelled? Now that the punters have had a taste of what these guys deliver, that sure as hell won’t happen again.
The air was getting even chillier as we waited for what seemed forever for Van Halen to appear. This was Van Halen’s only Australian performance and the band’s first show here with Roth. The only other time Van Halen has played here previously was in 1998 with Gary Cherone on vocals.
In stark contrast, after the colour and flamboyance of Aerosmith, Van Halen appeared on stage, in matching outfits of black vests over white shirts and black pants. They kicked off their set with ‘Unchained’ from their 1981 album ‘Fair Warning’ before stepping back even further in time with ‘Run With the Devil’. If I am not mistaken, their set consisted of songs from Roth’s time with the band only. While the majority of material was past hits, they also aired a couple of songs from their 2012 album ‘A Different Kind of Truth’ and a cover of Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Woman’, followed by an extended solo from drummer Alex Van Halen, before launching into the band’s cover of The Kinks’ classic ‘You Really Got Me’ from their 1977 album ‘Van Halen’.
As confetti was shot out into the air, leaving a big mess for the cleaners the next day, Day 1 of the Stone Music Festival finally drew to a close and there was a mass exit as fans scrambled to get out of the stadium after a very long, cold, wet, exhausting but amazing eleven hours of incredible rock and roll and many of us were eager to grab a few hours of sleep before coming back again tomorrow to do it all again. Are we gluttons for punishment? Or do we just love our live rock and roll? I’ll let you know tomorrow…
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by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © 2013 Sharyn Hamey All Rights Reserved.