Sydney’s ‘Oils’ bring their tribute to Mawson.

Sitting in the dining room at the Mawson Club in Canberra I was reveling in my sneakiness at being able to hide from my husband the group we were going to see tonight! They might be a tribute band, but I know he’s going to have a great time and just at that moment the room fills with a different kind of ambiance as the band do their sound checks in the room adjacent.

My husband instantly recognises the track and I’m forced to come clean – “We are seeing a Sydney Midnight Oil Tribute Band who are called ‘The Oils’.” …he nods his head in appreciation and smiles.

While sitting and waiting for the gig to begin I noted the stage setup which was reflective of the bands tribute tastes inclusive of a mini water tank on a stand. The backdrop curtain to the stage was black and the bright orange drum kit looked awesome in its space. The graphic of the album cover from Blue Sky Mining  was a prominent feature on the kits Bass drum. So cool!!


The stage went dark and there was a flurry of movement and shadows a surge in my own excitement and there it was “Read About It” …the first song of the night to get the punters in the zone. Darren the vocalist came out with a delivery of true Peter Garret styling complete with resounding confidence and animated actions. Oh, I need no more encouragement from this band…I’m there in the zone within the first one and a half minutes of the gig.

I see that I am just like every other punter in the room. The reaction is instantaneous, and we need no time to warm to the act. The dance floor is filled within the first minute with fans ranging from the ages of 19 to early 60’s. I am amused by two sets of couples from the older set who were obviously experienced ‘Rock N Roll’ dancers who could still fit the moves into the genre of the night…I just never thought about anything like that before.

The first set continues with the same flair as it began, and we were treated to renditions of many favourites which included taking us back as far as the 1979 hit “Back on The Borderline”.

That was it the first set finished…wait – really?? an hour has gone by already, but I swear we just started!!! My adrenaline is still pumping.

It’s during this time that I also consider the performance by way of lighting, sound and overall production of the show. In the bands corner tonight were Andrew Rickard and Matt Cootes from Soundshop here in Canberra. The experience of these two gentlemen certainly shone through in their respective roles and there was an abundance of theatrics to create the correct environment for execution of the band’s performance without overdoing it.

Some 20 minutes on, the second set starts with all the magnitude of the first – like a giant ball of energy!! The only difference being that Darren has had a wardrobe change. I’m loving the new Tee which is black and is covered with white hand prints. Fits perfectly into the character!


During this set Darren introduces us to the band – Matt and Rob are on lead guitars, Morri is on drums, Mark on bass guitar and Graham on keyboards. The band are applauded. Then Darren drops a couple of tit bits into the mix…Morri the drummer is playing with a broken finger and Matt on lead has a burnt arm hence the bandaging from his wrist to his elbow. It is then you appreciate the age-old term – “The Show Must Go On” …the pain they must have been in at this point in the gig.

A few more songs and the set ends. But the punters disagree – there is the opportunity for a call back performance to appease us – challenge accepted…followed by a second opportunity which the band took up. It was after this that last call back that we accepted the thanks from Darren for attending and realised the band had now been on stage for roughly two hours and it was time to let them rest.

Over the night we’ve been treated to covers of essential hits such as ‘Beds Are Burning’, ‘Power & The Passion’, ‘Blue Sky Mine’ and more fan favourites spanning Midnight Oils career from 1978 – 2002.

I conclude that this  has been one of the best tribute band experiences I have had to date. The Oils are not pretentious and don’t try to be Midnight Oil with unnecessary antics or props…they don’t need to…they are respectful in their approach, deliver a great inclusive live performance and are just ‘bloody fantastic’ in their own right! Oh yeah – and my husband is happy too!!!


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