Garrett Gets Back to Ministry of Rock

An article about Sound Relief, featuring Hunters and Collectors.

Author: Michael Ruffles, Canberra Times.

Date: 25 February 2009.

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Article Text

Peter Garrett has the passion, but after five years without singing and a new career in politics does his voice still have the power?

Australia will find out on Saturday, March 14, when the Federal Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts takes to the stage in the position that made him famous, as lead singer of Midnight Oil.

The Oils will be among the headline acts of Sound Relief, two concerts to be held in Melbourne and Sydney, that will raise money for victims of Victoria’s bushfires and Queensland’s floods.

Hunters and Collectors, Icehouse and Split Enz will also reform, while international acts Coldplay and Kings of Leon are taking time out from touring to headline the concerts that organisers hope will raise $4million.

Paul Kelly, Josh Pyke, Eskimo Joe, The Hoodoo Gurus, Jet, The Presets, You Am I and a revamped Wolfmother line-up will also feature.

Mr Garrett, who has been criticised for being silent in Parliament, has admitted he is out of practise since last fronting the Oils for WaveAid after the Indian Ocean tsunami.

”I have hardly sung a note since the Oils last played at WaveAid but this event is so unique and important that it will be terrific to now catch up with my mates and put on a performance that gives all those people affected by the terrible events what they dearly need,” he said.

Victorian Premier John Brumby said his federal colleague should be in fine voice.

”He’s been able to exercise his vocal chords in Parliament and elsewhere, I think he’ll come out bigger and better than ever,” he said.

Promoter Michael Gudinski said it probably took a few phone calls to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to ensure the Oils could reform.

”With the band’s political strength and the great voice they’ve always had, this is the right show for them to be doing,” Mr Gudinski said.

Cabinet colleague Jenny Macklin said last week she liked the idea and would put in a call when quizzed about Mr Garrett’s availability.

Hunters and Collectors lead singer Mark Seymour said the band had never intended to play again since splitting in 1998, but they had all been touched by scale of the tragedy.

”What’s happened to them could have happened to any of us,” he said.

”That’s pretty much the nature of the conversation that occurred between the former members of the band.”

Singer Kasey Chambers was proud to be part of the event and she was keen to do what she could to help.

”I can’t put out fires, I can’t rebuild houses for people, but I can use my position as a musician to raise some money and hopefully inspire people to find their thing that they can do,” she said. ”It’s a pretty proud day to be Australian to see all of us come together.”

Mr Brumby said the concerts should prove a chance to have fun while also supporting a recovery effort that would take years.

”These horrific fires have taken family, friends, neighbours and workmates and this concert will give people a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a great day out knowing that they are directly helping in the vital task of rebuilding,” Mr Brumby said. ”I congratulate music promoters who have so generously donated their services to organise this benefit and the artists who have so kindly donated their time to perform. It is acts like this that reaffirm that in these, the very worst of times, we are also seeing the very best of human nature.” The Sound Relief concerts will be held at the MCG in Melbourne and the SCG in Sydney and are expected to be among the largest rock concerts in Australian history.

The funds raised from the Sydney show will be split between the Victorian bushfire appeal and the relief effort for Queensland’s floods.

The Sheffield Shield final, which was to be held at the MCG will be moved.

Tickets will be $75 and go on sale from Ticketek on March 4.