Mar 21

After a number of rescheduled dates, it was finally time to attend Under The Southern Stars; a rock concert series with multiple international headliners. With previous concert dates in March at Hastings and Yarrawonga, we checked out the third Victorian show in Melbourne, at Margaret Court Arena.

The UTSS lineup included international headliners and rock royalty Cheap Trick, fellow American rockers Stone Temple Pilots, and British rock band BUSH. Pulling out all the stops on their return to Australia, the incredible and talented lineup brought in punters young and old to enjoy some old fashion stadium rock. Joining these bands on their Melbourne date were Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and homegrown talent Rose Tattoo.

First up was Rose Tattoo, fronted by the one and only Angry Anderson. Self-declared as Australia's finest Rock 'n' Roll Outlaws, the band's line up consisted of Angry on lead vocals, Paul DeMarco on drums, Bob Spencer on guitar, Mark Evans on bass and Mick Arnold on slide guitar. From their humble days releasing a debut album in late 1978, the bad boys of rock 'n' roll have set out destroying eardrums and venues across Australia ever since. As the crowd packed into the stadium, the band opened with Out Of This Place, followed closely by Rock 'n' Roll is King, and Who's Got The Cash. The set started to take off with Juice on the Loose, well-known hit We Can't Be Beaten, and Scarred For Life - which Angry told the audience was about growing up in Pascoe Vale in the 50's and 60's. The band closed out the set with more hits from their debut album, finishing up strong with Bad Boy For Love, Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw and Nice Boys.

Garage-rockers Black Rebel Motorcycle Club followed up, kicking off with Red Eyes and Tears and fan fave track Beat the Devil's Tattoo. The San Fransisco trio consisting of Peter Hayes, Robert Levon Been and Leah Shapiro have been around for a while now, and have finessed their live show, along with their impressive back catalogue of hits. Single Berlin had everyone up and dancing along, while the moody In Like the Rose mellowed out the show, and showcased the perfectly paired vocals of the two vocalists. Drummer Leah Shapiro was in fine form, drumming up a storm throughout the band's hits. American X and the classic Spread Your Love drew BRMC's set to a close, and had us riled up for the next act.

British band Bush took to the stage, in as fine form as ever. Tearing into classic hit Machinehead and the newer Blood River, the alt-rockers wasted no time putting on a rager of a set. With a discography spanning three decades, Bush found the perfect balance between the hits that made them, and their newer album The Kingdom, which made for a jam-packed setlist. Vocalist Gavin Rossdale addressed finding the perfect balance of new song and old songs, acknowledging, "it's the balance of life". The grungy Everything Zen and Ghosts in the Machine go off without a hitch, and had the audience swaying along with every note. Rossdale was a flurry onstage; showing endless energy as he lead into hit after hit. Special mention to the amazing guitar work by Chris Traynor on Bullet Holes. The all time favourites Glycerine (played solo by Rossdale) and Comedown were the closers for the set, and led the audience into a mass-singalong; leaving us wanting more.

Stone Temple Pilots were up next, on their first Australian tour with new frontman Jeff Gütt. The American rock band from San Diego, consisting of original band members Eric Kretz and brothers Dean and Robert DeLeo took to the stage, alongside Gütt on lead vocals. Jeff's live stage presence elevated STP to new heights, bringing an incredible take to some old classics with the highest energy set of the night. The band performed tracks from their extensive catalogue, including many from their 1992 debut album Core, which was released to major commercial success. Performing tracks including Wicked Garden, Plush, Dead & Bloated, Sex Type Thing and Crackerman - in which they invited Daxx Nielsen from Cheap Trick out to perform live with the band. We were also fortunate enough to hear tracks from album Purple, including some of their biggest hits with Vasoline, Interstate Love Song and Big Empty. It was clear to see throughout the set that the bands chemistry remains strong and it became easy to see why so many people had come to see them perform.

Headlining the concert series was rock legends Cheap Trick. With original band members Robin Zander on lead vocals, Rick Neilsen on lead guitar and Tom Petersson on bass the band were accompanied by touring musicians and children Daxx Nielsen on drums and Robin Taylor Zander on guitar. While Cheap Trick are no strangers to Australia, having first toured here in 1978, we had personally waited years to see them headline this concert series and knew that we would be in for a magical night when the band arrived to close out the night.

The band opened with Hello There, You Got It Going On, Lookout, and Tonight It's You to get the crowd warmed up, looking around to a sea of patrons clinging onto every word of each of their famous tracks. Performing a cover of California Man by The Move, the band proceeded to launch into hits including If You Want My Love, Baby Loves To Rock, and Stop This Game. The band found a way to hit some absolute classics into the set, keeping the crowd entertained from start to finish. The conclusion of the set was as strong a setlist as any band could hope to have performing greatest hits such as The Flame, I Want You to Want Me, Dream Police and Surrender. Closing out the set with Goodnight, it was bittersweet that the evening had come to an end.

Under The Southern Stars has been a welcomed return to international live music in Australia and to stadium shows with an unparalleled lineup of talented performers looking to bring back good old fashion rock 'n' roll with a series of greatest hits.