The rain pelted down. It ran in streams and sheets down the gentle slope. It had started as a few warning drops around 5.45 pm, but turned into a steady rain by 6pm. Of course, we knew it was coming. We’d driven through 3 hours of rain on the way there, only out-driving the rain in the last 30 minutes.
So we knew our Midnight Oil concert was going to be wet. We came prepared. We had rain pants and rain jackets. Nigel had waterproof snow boots. I had brought a spare pair of shoes to leave at the motel to wear the next day.
But there was no way to be prepared for the deluge that was to come. Stage 88 in Canberra is an outdoor venue with an open area in the centre and open stands of poplar trees along the edges. It is all gently sloping to the stage, so a good view can be had by all. We are standing sorta toward the back under the poplar trees.
Our group (we’ve met 3 of Nigel’s friends here) hunkers down as the rain gets harder. And harder. The first act comes on at 6.30pm. Midway through the first act, there is a lightning flash immediately followed by thunder. Shit. The first act continues as the rain gets harder still. It’s windscreen wiper-on-super high-but-still-can’t-see-anything sort of rain.
The second act comes on at 7.30pm. We’re pretty wet by now. It’s been raining steady to hard since 6pm. We’re out of daylight savings now, so it’s dark by 6pm, so you can’t really see what weather is coming or not. Unless you look at radar on your phone. The people standing near us say it looks like the rain is backfilling and it’s going to rain most of the concert. Oh well, once you are wet, you’re wet. We’re dedicated and riding it out.
And then the storm really hits. Sheets of rain pass in front of the stage lights like curtains. Still the band plays on. It is a total tempest and everyone is dripping wet. The water is halfway up the rubber on my shoe and every step is a splash. My feet are completely soaked. And the lightning is now every five minutes. It’s disconcerting when you are standing under trees near an open field. But still the band plays on, and the crowd gets wetter and wetter. And colder and colder. It’s only 11C.
The second act finishes. The entire crowd is now one united, soggy mess enduring two hours of a storm to see Midnight Oil on their farewell tour. We figure that at least once they come on to play, the crowd is going to be electric and feed that energy into the band. We’re all united now, one soggy, cold crowd gritting it out to see their band.
At 8.15 pm a guy comes on stage and says Midnight Oil will come on a half hour late. He advises us to go shelter in our cars and get out of the storm, and the Oils will start at 9pm. Yet hardly anyone has cars to go back to because most everyone arrived by public transport, uber or taxi. So we all stay put. And endure. And endure. It does not matter how prepared you were, everyone is soaking wet and cold now.
More lightning and thunder. More pelting rain. Nigel can no longer feel his legs or hands. He’s having trouble holding his beer. Many of us are jumping around to the background music just to stay warm.
9pm. No Oils. 9.05pm. A man comes on stage and says due to the severe weather that the concert will not proceed. We are to leave and seek shelter immediately. We’ll get full refunds.
What the fuck!!! We’ve now been standing in pelting rain and lightning for 3 hours. The woman next to us is looking at the radar on her phone and says, “No way, it’s clearing!! It won’t be raining in 30 minutes!”
There is audible and palpable shock in the crowd. We just stood through 3 hours of rain and lightning and now you call it? If you were going to call it, it should have been after the first act back two hours ago about 7pm.
We all proceed to the exits in disbelief. We slip and slide our way out. There is mud everywhere and lots of people are falling over because it’s so slippery. Apparently, the people standing down the front were standing in ankle deep water. 33mms of rain in 3 hours will do that.
So it was the Midnight Oil concert that wasn’t. The real kicker is that after enduring a 3-hour storm, with Nigel starting into hypothermia, and getting so wet we were completely pruned, the rain and lightning completely finished 30 minutes later. It had stopped raining by the time we got back to the motel. I cannot tell you how disappointed we were, especially after spending $300 on fuel and accommodation to attend the show.
But all is not lost. We have tickets to see Midnight Oil again on Sunday, just five days later. This was the concert we were supposed to go to on my birthday. But the drummer got covid then, so the concert was postponed to Nigel’s birthday instead.
Sunday comes. It’s warm and clear, but it cools right off to 14C as the sun sets. We go pretty early to stake out our spot near the front. (When you pay $200 for a ticket, you want to make it worth it.)
The support acts are both good. The crowd squeezes in as Midnight Oil is about to start. Nigel and I are both nearly in tears when the show starts with We Resist.
And we then jump and bounce for the next 2 hours.
We spend the first half of the show up the very front and then move back to a more open area in the Premium Standing section for the second half where there is more room to jump around.
My shirt ends up wetter than it did at the Canberra show. It’s all sweat this time. My entire head is wet. There is sweat dripping off my hair. I’ve just done the equivalent of frenzied jumping jacks for 2 hours straight without a rest. I’m airborne as much as I am on the ground. I prove that you can be asthmatic and do strenuous activity with an N95 mask taped to your face. And I love every second of it. I cannot get enough. They play both of the songs, “Read About It” and “Short Memory”, that are my favourites to hear at a concert.
Awesome. It almost makes up for the loss of the Canberra concert. Nigel and I are both very, very happy with the night. We have no idea what it was like in the seated or general admission sections, but it was tremendous fun in Premium Standing. And the set list was fantastic – better than any of the other concert set lists on this tour that I’ve seen online except, maybe, the concert at Orange.
And the biggest victory for me: I drove there and back (45 mins each way), including the night drive back that requires full concentration looking for kangaroo hazards. We stood for 2.5-3 hours before Midnight Oil came on. And then I did high intensity exercise for 2 hours straight.
There were times in the past 4.5 years when I could not stand for more than 15 minutes without exhausting myself. There were times I could not do that same 45-minute drive because the brain fog was so bad I could not drive very far at all.
And so the 24th of April, 2022, saw me jumping more than most everyone else at the concert. And there was no post-exertional malaise the next day. The fatigue never hit. I just had the tiredness a normal person would have the next day. It’s the biggest tick on the recovery scorecard yet!
In bike news, procurement of bike bits continues. I have most of the mountain bike repair kit together now. My parents have sourced a Salsa cradle and bag for me in America. I’m working my way through tyre research. I’ve decided that I will take the mountain bike for a shakedown run for the first part of the tour later this year if I can get the handlebars in time. I’m still getting over the thought of not taking The Wizard, but I think it will be wise to really test out the mountain bike before we get to the high country.
Here is the latest thought on the first part of the tour. Of course, this is just an idea and will change on the road. I have no specific roads or routes planned. And I never will. But this kind of shows how I think I’ll link up all the state forests, parks and national parks that I want to visit.
And Part 2 of the tour into the high country might look something like this. Head down towards Mansfield and then work my way east, popping out of the forest for resupply before heading back in several times. This is very, very rough, but I think I’ve settled on starting in the west and heading east instead of the opposite.
But who knows? I’m really loving the idea of a “take it as it comes” approach. I’ve certainly got the time and headspace for that on this tour. And it’s coming quickly. I only have 9 weeks of work left! I’ve got to put together a to-do list because the next two months will be a bit crazy wrapping things up and getting the America trip all sorted out, too. Plus, I’m starting four days of work per week this week, so there’s less free time to play with for the next nine weeks, also. I cannot tell you how excited I am, that as things ramp up, I’ve got the energy to match.
Now just cross your fingers I did not get covid at the Midnight Oil concert on Sunday (I guess I should know by Friday if I’m in the clear). Because that could certainly un-do a lot of things.