& King Rodney Parks Adelaide
Presented by Secret Sounds
19-20 November 2022
Living End Photo – Tony Polese
All other Photo’s – Robert McArthur
Harvest Rock – Through the eyes of James Murphy
A week after Handpicked Festival at Langhorne Creek was cancelled by unseasonal buckets of rain and five months after Splendour in the Grass was flooded, Harvest Rock Festival organisers must have been anxiously eyeing the weather forecasts and preparing for doom. Yes, the rains came, intermittently but heavily, all weekend but fans and organisers were ready for it and the music prevailed, despite it all. If a music fest, with its cocktail bars, cellar doors, champagne island, gourmet dining experiences and line-up of rock bands of an enormity not seen in this town since the Big Day Out, can be this fun in the least pleasant weather conditions, then bring on next year.
Following a welcome to country from the traditional owners on a deceptively sunny Saturday morning, New Zealand troubadour Marlon Williams took to the Harvest Stage in a white turtle-neck for an acapella Maori welcome. With his Roy Orbison voice, Williams played a water themed set designed to ward off the ominous clouds; songs like River Rival from his latest album, My Boy. Allusions to the inclement weather in set lists was a recurring theme of the weekend: The Lumineers played Creedence’s ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain’, whereas earlier Tones and I sang ‘Never Seen the Rain’. To close off the festival, Crowded House summarised the past two days with their iconic ‘Four Seasons In One Day’.
There were periods of glorious sunshine where the jackets came off, the ponchos were folded back into pockets, the weather forecasts were mocked. Genesis Owusu, returning to his home shores after touring the world, took the stage in a red suit with black fishnet vest and a scarlet line painted down the middle of scalp, and held the crowd in his hands as he conducted them like Freddie Mercury and strutted like Prince or Michael Jackson. Like Tones and I the day earlier, Genesis was flanked by backing vocalists and dancers for his stadium ready show. Part-way through his set, he asked “Adelaide, are you alive?” before responding “drop the f#@king track”. When the audience didn’t give the energy, he was expecting, he stopped the music and asked again, “Adelaide, are you alive?” With such prompting, the crowd shook off their soggy clothes and got down. Saturday nights’ Groove Armada, similarly, was the talk of the festival the next day, as their bevvy of vocalists burnt through their back catalogue of bangers like ‘Superstylin’ and brought out the horns for ‘At the River’. Their Australian contemporaries, The Avalanches, meanwhile, went with a lower key two DJs with their laptop’s presentation of their hits; their big songs, though, don’t need a spectacle to excite the crowd.
Some bands, though, were tasked with entertaining the crowd during peak downpours, periods where those with VIP tickets huddled under the tarpaulins on the Harvest Stage viewing platform (there was no such protection on the Vine Stage), in the merch tent, or maybe the toilets, as a last resort……”sorry, I’m going to be in here a while; bad curry”. Sibling Triple J superstars Angas & Julia Stone sang of Hollywood bungalows and smelling daisies on ‘Chateau’ and ‘Big Jet Plane’ as the heavens opened; admittedly Angas does call his lover his “lady river”, which was appropriate. Festivals like Glastonbury are notorious for their gum boot weather, for the sloshing in the mud. After years of being deprived of live music, it was going to take more than La Nina to dampen spirits, although some of the children brought along by their child-of-the-90s parents were less convinced at times.
As with any festival, cover versions were a popular ploy to win over new fans. Tones and I, aware of her divisive, love-her-or-hate her reputation, returned to her busking days for her cover of Alphaville’s ‘Forever Young’. Ruby Fields, on Sunday morning, gave a passionate rendition of The Church’s ‘Unguarded Moment’, local boys Towns mashed up TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’, Angas and Julia paid tribute to The Go-Betweens on ‘Streets of Your Town’ and Cat Power, of course, delivered many covers from her three covers albums, including ‘New York’, ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and Frank Ocean’s ‘Bad Religion’. Power, who wielded two microphones, cracking them like whips as she tried to maneuver them around foldback speakers, didn’t deliver greatest hits set list, but did close with ‘The Greatest’, from the album of the same name.
Harvest Rock, with its 30,000 plus ticketholders, has a market in Adelaide, even in the worst of circumstances. Event organisers controlled all that could be controlled, rolling out fake turf atop the mud between Saturday and Sunday, designing places to shelter, within reason, and keeping lines short and food and drink options plentiful. Next year, we pray for sunshine and a line-up as packed and carefully curated as this one.
Harvest Rock – Through the eyes of Geoff Jenke
A massive big thank you to the organisers of Harvest Rock for putting this event on in South Australia. While other states have their “own” festivals like Falls, Splendour in the grass and Blues Festival, Adelaide has always missed out. An even bigger thank you to the people who turned up and supported this festival. Despite the weather gods doing their best to ruin the show with wind, rain and even a promise of storms, the people flocked to the park to see the bands.
A lot of work had gone into this event and the layout and organisation could not be faulted. It was easy to get a drink or some food and to get between the stages. There was also even a children’s area and yes, there were a lot of children in attendance. Information was fed on the big screens behind the stages between songs and even a “Thank you to Willy the groundsman”.
What better way to start the Harvest Festival than with the Australian Rock Collective (ARC) featuring Kram (Spiderbait), Mark Wilson (Jet), Darren Middleton (Powderfinger) and Davey Lane (You Am I) playing Neil Young’s 1972 Harvest album from start to finish. Kram stepped out from the drums to sing Old Man with just an acoustic guitar and the closing song Words was a power house performance. If Harvest Rock does continue, maybe the organisers could lay the challenge to different artists each year to play the album at the start of the event.
Allen Stone hails from the U.S.A and began his career singing in his father church before discovering soul music. Opening with Miscommunicate, Allen’s music may well have been the calm before the impending thunder storms forecast. Taste of You had a smooth vide to it and with the new song 5 Minutes Allen had the crowd joining in with the chorus. The closer Unaware, again a smooth sound, gently led the audience into relax mode.
Allen Stone may have relaxed the audience, but You Am I got them up again. The crowd swelled on the Vine Stage for the band and they disappoint. Tim Rogers, looking every bit the rock star in a red velvet suit and doing Pete Townshend windmill moves on his guitar, led the band through a mixture older classic song and a few newer ones. The rain came, ponchos became the fashion item of the day and Cathy’s Clown, Who Put the Devil in You and Mr Milk kept the crowd warm. Who needs to drink wine from a glass, when wine comes in a glass bottle. Well done Mr Rogers
An announcement that “this maybe the last ever performance for Goanna” made this performance a little bit more special. Opening with Cheating Heart and Razors Edge the band gave us a run through of all their classic hits and albums tracks. Stand Yr’ Ground, Factory Man and of course Solid Rock echoed out around the park. Even the return of the rain didn’t dampen any one’s spirit.
The fog machine was struggling to fill the stage with smoke, as the wind carried it away, but Courtney Barnett didn’t struggle to keep the crowd on side during her set. Courtney let the music do the talking with only a few “thanks” to the crowd later in the set. Rae Street and Avant Gardner started the set and as Kurt Vile turned up on stage towards the end of the set, Courtney asked “is anyone surprised Kurt is here?”. The two did a duet on Over Everything before Courtney closed the set with Write a List of Things to Look Forward To.
Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine played out over the sound system and the girls in front of me got up and danced. They said they didn’t know The Black Crowes, but they sure knew James Brown. The Black Crowes are Rock N Roll in its purest form. Led by brothers Chris (vocals) and Rich Robinson (guitar) the band formed in the late eighties and while have had several hiatuses, they are back louder and prouder than ever. Twice as Hard rocked, well hard, and their version of Poppa Was a Rolling Stone was pure soul. Sometimes Salvation came near the end and Sting Me followed, being the highlight of the set. Remedy closed out a perfect set of Rock N Roll as it should be played. A bit of trivia, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones once said “The Black Crowes? Are those the cats that want to be me?” No Keith, they are their own band and they are good.
Jack White arrived on stage, dressed elegantly in black naturally, and presented a furious guitar salvo to the audience before leading the band into an epic 20 song set starting with Taking Me Back from his latest album. Fear of the Dawn followed before the first of The White Stripes songs Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground. White covered a lot of territory in the set, including a couple of Raconteurs songs in You Don’t Understand Me and Steady, as She Goes as well as a cover of Son House’s Death Letter. Jack was like the energiser bunny all evening, covering all parts of the stage and never stopping moving. The closing salvo of Sixteen Saltines, What’s the Trick? And of course, Seven Nation Army made sure Jack left the stage with the crowd on his side. This was Jack White’s only Australian performance and we were extremely thankful it was in Adelaide.
Sunday’s weather was more of the same as Saturday. Sitting at home with the rain pouring down, I did consider not going in, but in the end, I am glad I did.
I arrived in time to catch Holy Holy, who praised the crowd “for staying around in the rain”. Yes, ponchos were the fashion item of the day again. The band were joined by sisters Lily & Grace Richardson (who perform under the name Clews) for most of the set, adding an extra dimension to the vocals. Maybe You Know, You Cannot Call for Love Like a Dog resounded around the field before the standard hit a new high in The Aftergone and Teach Me About Dying. Holy Holy, a band I will be doing a lot of listening to after this performance.
The Living End only know one way to play. Fast and frantic. Second Solution opened the show and from things only got crazier. Introducing End of the World, Chris Cheney told everyone “You can’t do anything about taxes or the weather. We are going to embrace the crazy”. The rain came but the crowd stayed. Second Solution had everyone singing along and a tribute to the late Jerry Lee Lewis was well received, even though it was obvious the band hadn’t practice Great Ball of Fire to much. White Noise bought everything crashing down.
The Teskey Brothers are Australian and proud of it. They were the perfect band to follow the frantic Living End. Opening with Man of the Universe and Carry You, they could do no wrong in the eyes of the audience. Their version of John Lennon’s Jealous Guy was a genuinely warm gesture to the great man. Rain seemed so appropriate to the day and when they said they were “going to take it to the dark side” with Paint my Heart they meant every word.
As Hot Chip adorned the stage, the party really began. Everyone’s dancing shoes were covered or filled with mud, but that didn’t stop the crowd getting behind the band, jumping up and down for the entire set. Down, Flutes, Hungry Child all echoed around the now soggy field.
The surprise act of the weekend for me was Sam Fender. I had plans of heading over to Crowded House half way through but his (and the bands) songs and playing held me mesmerised. A lot of people did head off, their loss. From opening number Will We Talk? He captivated the audience. Dead Boys was full of energy, while Mantra bought things down a little. The video screen and light show was the best of the festival and the final song Seventeen Going Under bought the house down. My only complaint, the show was way too short.
And so ended Harvest Rock. Well done to the organisers. It must have been total chaos behind the scene but out in the fields it ran beautifully, despite the weather.
Here’s to next year’s festival.