Review: the sweet sound of live music

8,500 people at Sunset Sounds at Roche Estate. Picture: Liam Gilleland

Put thirteen artists in a Hunter Valley vineyard, add thousands of Aussie rock music lovers, sprinkle it with bars and food trucks and you have got what was a magnificent return to live music in New South Wales.

It was an absolute almighty day at Roche Estate in the Hunter Valley for Sunset Sounds, which saw more than 8500 rock music lovers listening to legends of the Australian music industry, including Daryl, Mossy, Nollsie, Dragon, Thirsty Merc, Choirboys and more; performing at one of the first major concerts the country has seen in over a year.

(Graphic: Liam Gilleland)

The concert was turned into a seated event just one week out from showtime.

It was quite frustrating to think we would not be able to get up and dance but the music Gods pulled through to make the day even better. NSW Health gave the event an early mark on dancing, less than 24 hours before the event began.

While flagging that “the site is looking great”; it turned into a mud bath by the third act, leaving people in thongs going home with dirty, muddy feet and white shoe-wearers wondering whether to throw out their kicks or try to clean them up. But those who came prepared – the gumboot wearers – were feeling pleased.

(Photo: Liam Gilleland)

The day kicked off at 3pm with Matt Finish opening the legendary line-up.

Event organisers refused to publish a set list, to make the day a “surprise”.

Shannon Noll was next up and got the early party-starters going, singing his biggest hits including; Drive, Lift and What About Me.

Shannon Noll (Photo: Liam Gilleland)

Mark Williams of Dragon belted out April Sun in Cuba, Rain and Are You Old Enough.

Dragon (Photo: Liam Gilleland)

Daddy Cool’s very own Ross Wilson had the crowd doing the Eagle Rock, and was one of the best on the day.

Wilson paid tribute to the late Michael Gudinski, saying he once declared the song “not just the greatest song in Australia, but the greatest song in the world.”

Ross Wilson (Photo: Liam Gilleland)

At one stage, organisers had to put the event on hold for around 20 minutes, due to the number of people who had left their seats to stand on the grass hill; perhaps to get out of the mud or to have a drink with mates.

This was deemed not COVID-safe, and they were urged back to their seats.

(Photo: Liam Gilleland)

With the recent wet weather experienced across the country’s east coast, everyone wanted to be taken back to “the summertime”.

The sun shone even brighter as it started to set and Thirsty Merc belted out their classics; In the Summertime, 20 Good Reasons and Someday, Someday.

(Gallery: Liam Gilleland)

The day’s MC and lead singer of Choirboys, Mark Gable, was teasing the crowd before finally delivering one of the anthems of the day, Run to Paradise. And, in a great performance, Glenn Shorrock sang under the stars and had the crowd up on its feet, dancing and singing to the hit Help Is On Its Way.

Ian Moss sang Cold Chisel favourites Bow River and Choirgirl, before his own tune Tucker’s Daughter to round out his gig.

Kate Cebrano was brilliant on stage, taking to Instagram afterwards to say “About last night!!!!!!! This is unbelievable! Live music!!!!! Woke up this morning thinking it must have been a dream.”

Critics quickly pointed out she was the only female performer on the night.

There were earlier concerns that a couple of the acts would be no-shows. In the end, The Black Sorrows and 1927 were the only ones who didn’t make it, with the crowd only told mid-concert. Steve Kilbey of The Church was the one to get the call-up to replace them.

The last to perform was crowd-favourite and headliner Daryl Braithwaite.

Daryl Braithwaite (Photo: Liam Gilleland)

Braithwaite gave us a taste of Sherbet, singing Howzat before his own songs – including One Summer, Love Songs, As The Days Go By and of course Horses, which turned 30 in January.

Braithwaite had been hospitalised in January with a sudden illness that forced him to pull out of a concert in Victoria. But he was certainly back to his best form.

It was too good to be listening to live music again – especially for the music industry.

And even better that we’ve now welcomed back dancing and singing in all public places across New South Wales.

— Liam Gilleland