For most, it was just a regular Wednesday night finishing work. For some though, the air around Hisense Arena had a certain spark to it as something special was about to happen.
Four classic Australian rock powerhouses were banding together for one special night for a special cause. It was a night dedicated to one person, Stuart “Chet” Fraser, and his fight against lung cancer. He is the piece of glue that bonds tonight’s acts into one. He is a friend of Diesel, a founding member, and guitarist for Noiseworks, a long time player in the band for the great John Farnham, and occasional guitarist and friend for Jimmy Barnes.
With the help of the Olivia Newton-John Wellness Centre and Support Act, Stuart was able to continue his fight against cancer and tonight was a night for the public to help even more. With all funds going to the Olivia Newton-John Wellness Centre, Support Act, as well as the Fraser family to make sure that the hospital bills are covered, it was definitely a night to dig deep and give back to those who gave us the great Australian ’70s, ’80s and ’90s sound.
The MC for the night came out for a booming greeting to get the night going and to introduce the first act for tonight, Diesel. Going solo for the night, he started off strong with One More Time, which seemed to set the tone for tonight’s show. The moment that he started the riff into Tip Of My Tongue, the crowd let out a loud cheer and starting singing along with Diesel even having the crowd take some of the song themselves. His set was full of energy with getting the crowd clapping along and showing that even solo, and using only a guitar, he was his own band. The surprise part of the set came after a small story about the friendship between himself and Stuart, Diesel decided to bring out a Jimi Hendrix classic, Hey Joe. Of course, the final track was an incredible extended version of Cry In Shame, with great crowd support and vocals joined by amazing guitar mastery. After a long solo to finish, the MC came back on to introduce our next act for the night.
Noiseworks came on stage fast and hard with on of their biggest tracks, Take Me Back. The crowd couldn’t stay still, with hands in the air from the get-go and the front seating area becoming a standing area to sing your lungs out and dance in the aisles. This was the big time to show what Stuart had started when he founded Noiseworks. It didn’t stop there as they transitioned into Love Somebody. The intensity of the band was great and you could see, they were putting on a show to remember. Lead singer, Jon Stevens took time mid-set though to get a round of applause for Stuart and thank all those around. All these thanks then moved into a heart-moving hit, Everyday People.
After stating though that they only “half rehearsed”, they got the whole arena to stand to excite everyone with “No Lies”. Dancing, clapping and singing out loud. Seemed that this would be the endless theme for tonight. A rare thing for huge multi-act performances these days. After this, they invited Olivia Fraser, Stuart’s daughter with her father’s guitar in hand to play their biggest song, Touch”. After announcing Stuart was admitted into hospital last night, Jon asked for everyone to pull out their phones and light them up. Phone torches lit up the arena like stars. It was a beautiful sight to behold, all in honour of Stuart. With a finish like that, it only makes everyone wonder what’s in store for the second half of the show with Jimmy Barnes and John Farnham and two yet-to-be-named special guests.
After a pre-mentioned 15 minute interval, the show kicked off yet again. It was straight into it with Jimmy Barnes with Love and Hate. Everyone’s up and out of their seats as Jimmy takes control of the stage. This smoothly moved into I’d die to be with you tonight, and it showed, this was purely going to be his greatest hits tonight. And not just his own hits as out came Cold Chisel hit Khe Sahn. That was it. The crowd was his. You could hear the crowd just as loud as Jimmy himself. Right after belting out that classic, Jimmy made it known that this was only the start.
After a quick thank you to all those in the crowd for contributing, we moved into a slower groove with Too Much Ain’t Enough Love. This groove continues into Little Darling, but as slow as the groove was, Jimmy was showing that he was anything but slow. His energy onstage was highly visible as he was always on the move. I don’t think there has been a space on that stage that he didn’t touch at least one. He made his presence clear and he showed he was here to entertain for everyone as a thank you. Jimmy slowed it down to almost a stop when he started to show his vocal strength with the beautiful, Flame Trees. A song that sounds better every time he does it live, and one that everyone sang with him. Jimmy picked up the tempo with the hard and fast Lay Down Your Guns”, which had the floor moving yet again.
Good Times started with a fun announcement from Jimmy as he’s joined on stage by not only Diesel but also Jon Stevens from Noiseworks. The vocal battle between Jimmy and Jon made the crowd go wild. This frenzy spread quickly as Working Class Man started. But that wasn’t all. On walked Ian Moss (Cold Chisel), our first surprise guest.
And When the War is Over was sung as a duet between Jimmy and Ian, this was one surprise that people wished for and one that was granted at the same time. They absolutely belted out some classic Cold Chisel classics such as Merry-Go-Round, and the ultimate Australian classic, Bow River. It was going to be hard to top this. Then again, up next was “The Voice” of Australian music. The one; the only, John Farnham.
Firstly though, Lindsey Field, long-time member of John Farnham’s band came out to thank everyone for supporting the night, and to thank all those who made it possible, as well as let everyone know that Stuart is watching a live stream in hospital, and that every single cent is going straight to charity. Even Hisense Arena didn’t charge for the night. It was truly a charity event for Stuart, Olivia Newton-John Wellness Centre and Support Act.
With thundering drums, John Farnham came out to the start the Queen favourite, We Will Rock You, and to be honest, that exactly is what he was already doing! John was ready to come out fast and hard to finish the show. Reasons started the true Farnham fans going crazy and it was easy to tell that many of the crowd was here to see John after so much time away. If there’s one thing about John Farnham shows, it’s that music will always be a part of a person’s life. Even if they try to leave, it will always bring you back. His voice is still as amazing as ever.
No One Comes Close and Love to Shine have pretty much turned the first ten rows of seating into a push onto the barrier, as people want to get closer to witness one of the best voices to grace Australian music live.
However, it got crazy when John announced his special guest, Daryl Braithwaite (Sherbet)! Of course, this meant that Horses was a must, and lo and behold, Horses is what we got! Yet again, people were dancing and singing the last of their voices out. Sadly though, that’s all he came out to sing, but that did mean that John was back on stage to finish the show.
Age of Reason had everyone back at John’s feet yet again before getting into one of his hits, Two Strong Hearts. He may show his age, but don’t second doubt him! John Farnham knows how to put on a show, and how to please the people still after so long. This definitely shows in That’s Freedom. In fact, I would say it sounds better now than it did 10 years ago. Everyone pumping their fists with every chant of “THAT’S FREEDOM” and swaying along, it’s hard to see anyone sitting anywhere around.
I think it’s amazing how much energy John Farnham can give a crowd that’s already gone through so much throughout the night, yet Pressure Down had people still going strong. That was until Playing to Win started. The uplifting, inspiring, high-tempo song actually had people jumping up front and incited more energy in the crowd so late into the night.
That energy soon would then be nothing as, what some classify as Australia’s greatest song, started with clapping and a deep drum beat. You’re The Voice came in with thunderous cheers and applause. Even John Farnham knew the crowd could just sing it for him. It had all the bells and whistles, and the bagpipe! With photos of Stuart showing on the screens showing why we’re all here and what it’s all about. You couldn’t finish a performance like this with anything else but this song. Yet it looked like we were in store for one more special song.
John Farnham walks back out to joke about the crowd knowing that there would be an encore and calls out Jon Stevens to join him on stage for an AC/DC classic, It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll). Diesel walks onstage to play guitar with them, and there’s a video montage of Stuart’s live performances. They also got the crowd to do a sing-back echo to them. Everyone was pumped and happy that they just experienced one of the best nights Australian classic rock has to offer in one night, for the best reason; albeit, for the worst condition possible.
Our prayers and well wishes go out to the Fraser family that Stuart makes a quick and easy recovery, with all thanks to the Olivia Newton-John Wellness Centre and Support Act.
If you’d like further information on the ONJ Cancer Wellness & Research Centre, please visit the link below.