Project Description


@ Thebarton Theatre


(Live Review)

Reviewer: Ashleigh Law


Jimmy Barnes showcased his “Working Class Man Tour” in his hometown Adelaide Sunday night. Barnes created his own evening of stories and songs to a sold out Thebarton Theatre, based on his new memoir Working Class Man. This show had him telling his life story and singing songs that defined his career. His supporting band consisted of his son Jackie on drums, son-in-law on bass and piano and guitar players. 

Jimmy Barnes

Jimmy Barnes // Peter Mundy Photography

The night started with a video of Australia’s prodigy rock’n’roller Jimmy Barnes’ intro to his second book. He talked about how he warms up for each show, loudly yelling HEY, which is much better than just lalalala. He then took us on a journey of his life, starting when he was 17 years old – the start of Cold Chisel. 

Jimmy was pacing the stage as he told us about Cold Chisel starting travelling in the back of a milk truck around Australia and playing covers at various pubs and nightclubs. They decided to change and wrote all originals for a night, it was a fairly packed out gig on Hindley Street. Barnes explained how the nearly full venue was practically empty by the time they played their original songs. So they scrapped those songs and started writing new ones again. 

He also told us how fellow band mate mentioned ‘is anyone stupid enough to spray paint our band on walls to get our name out there?’ Young Jimmy Barnes obviously jumped at this and went around spray painting their name throughout walls of Adelaide, including the side of a police station. 

It was interesting to learn that after getting a new manager and writing new songs, Cold Chisel began to get a few hit songs. Although, Khe Sanh wouldn’t be featured on Countdown unless they changed the lyrics ‘their legs were often open but their minds were always closed’. So the band told them to get f’ed because they weren’t changing their lyrics just to be on a TV show. 

Barnes mentioned messing up the film clip to Khe Sanh because he kept drinking the whisky bottle that was meant to be a prop, so they had to keep filling it back up. If you watch it closely, you can see different shots that the level changes. We got to sit there and watch some of the music video with Jimmy Barnes himself, while he was explaining this. 

Jimmy Barnes // Peter Mundy Photography

Jimmy would often mention how he wanted to play hard rock and would always try to speed up their songs. The rest of the band wanted to play more reggae rock so they’d try to change their songs while Barnes wasn’t paying attention. The band on Sunday night did this to Wild Thing by The Troggs. Barnes sang it hard and heavier and he’d turn around then the band would slow it down to a reggae feel. The crowd loved this. 

The Cold Chisel theory is no matter if theres only one person in the audience or a million people, they’d play the same. Put it all in and leave nothing out, showing off their best musical abilities in all live shows. It’s great how Jimmy lived up to this on the night. 

The Cry Girl music video has Barnes with his hands in his pockets. He mentioned that he wasn’t trying to be cool, he just didn’t know how to dance. So the packed out Thebarton Theatre watched with him part of this music video on the large screen onstage, while Barnes would commentate throughout parts of the song. 

Barnes then sang Rising Sun which is a Cold Chisel song written about his now wife Jane. Watching the Cheap Wine music video together in the large theatre was a unique experience. The crowd was singing along. 

After the intermission, Barnes started talking more about his solo career. He had to learn guitar better because he was now writing his own songs. He made jokes to his new manager about being a country singer, but he couldn’t keep a straight face. They started working on his new solo album; Body Swerve. Jimmy Barnes played the first single from this album – Second Prize. 

Jimmy Barnes // Peter Mundy Photography

Working Class Man caused a standing ovation from the audience so Barnes came back onstage to talk about addiction and the importance to talk to people. He promoted places like Lifeline and Beyondblue after mentioning he went to a therapist once a week and sometimes more. ‘The most courageous thing I did was ask for help’. Although a lot of his life story had him constantly drunk and on drugs, he outlined the importance of talking to people when you need help. Barnes mentioned all the friends he had lost along the way and how they all said they were fine. He specifically mentioned calling Michael Hutchence and asking if he was fine. He of course said he was and that they’d go out for a meal in the next week, but Hutchence never made it. He said you can’t run from your problems, asking for help and talking to people about it is so important. 

After this, Barnes got his wife Jane on stage for the last song. This was his new song about looking back. He wrote it for his family, including the audience as part of his family. It was a unique night with the mellow audience spanning two or three generations. He continues his tour in Victoria on Thursday night and I recommend buying his book to find out more!

Check out the rest of the gallery by Peter Mundy here!


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