April 30th 2022 – Sandstone Point Hotel
After battling the wave of bodies filing into the Sandstone Point Hotel, Bribie Island at around one o’clock Saturday afternoon, we made it to one of the two indoor bars I could see. Myself, my husband, Ben, and our neighbours, Megan and Dave, had booked to see the show back in November and it had finally snuck up on us. I had not been to Sandstone Point before but I had heard from several people how good the venue was for gigs like this. So far, it hadn’t disappointed, the place had an upper class but rustic feel about it and I was already considering returning when it wasn’t as busy to see what a normal day at Sandstone was like.
At the top of the grassy hill, just outside the doors of the hotel, a sea of picnic rugs and half height folding chairs spilled out in front of us. It was chaos, of course, with up to 10,000 people expected to arrive but it was organised. You could see that the staff here had done this before. They had defined walkways through the crowd so that people could travel to the bar, the toilets and the food trucks without accidently standing on fingers or tripping over legs.
We weaved through the walkways, eventually settling ourselves in a corner to the right of the huge black stage with massive screens either side. It turned out to be a great spot. Not only were we seated near a very comical nurse from Ipswich but we were just a couple of meters from the walkway that led to the dance area… the pit… the stage front… whatever you would like to call it, which meant we had some of the best seats in the house for ‘people watching’. I have been to enough gigs to know that the other attendees can be just as entertaining as the entertainers themselves.
The Red Hot Summer Tour – Unfinished Business, it had been called. It turns out that the reason for the name was that this group had been trying to get this tour done since 2020. It had been delayed several times in the wake of COVID. Now that life is a little more normal, they were determined to finish what they had started. First up, in place of Boom Crash Opera, we were treated to a few popular covers from Chocolate Starfish, who formed back in 1992, disbanded in 1998 and now somehow seemed to be back together again. They started the rock rolling, while more people filled this magnificent venue.
Killing Heidi then came on, a dated version of their former selves, they helped people to remember that they had hits. The lyrics for “Weir” and “Mascara” suddenly coming from listeners lips again. They lacked some of the energy that my group of onlookers remembered but were something to listen to while we ate and refreshed our beverages.
As the sun lowered, the crowd thickened. The lights at the hotel, which now seemed quite a walk away, glowed gold against a royal blue sky. The magnitude of this scene unfolded before, my eyes scanned the hill from the stage back up to the hotel. There were so many happy heads bobbing around. It really was a unique experience. The venue was absolutely grand, meshing so well with the balmy Queensland weather and laid back attitudes. The food trucks were good. The pizza, in particular, was great for this sort of gig. The bar tent was busy but set up in the best way possible.
Next up, the Baby Animals graced us with their stage presence. Now this… this is a band that still has what we all remembered them for. Great songs, great riffs and a lead singer (Suze DeMarchi), who still held the glory and darkness of real rock close to her heart. The Angels, lead by Dave Gleeson, were after them and did just as well, leading us into the darker hours with hits that we all loved hearing once again.
It seemed there was a bit of a break, which gave me time again to look to the crowd. In general, it was an older crowd, there were a few millennials scattered among us but Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y seemed to have the majority here.
The break gave us time to prepare and sink ourselves into the pit for the first time that evening. We had seen the next act before. We knew what they would bring. They already held a place in hearts, never before had they let us down. We waved our arms and chanted their names. We grinned widely at the tell-tale two double bases set up to the far left of the stage and the roady testing all of Chris Cheney’s guitars. The crowd rumbled into cheer when they finally ran out onto the stage. They started with ‘Second Solution’ then followed it up with mad guitar solos, incredible double bass acrobats and drum beats that went through your chest and came out your ears. The Living End are a 28 year old band that have not lost any of their former glory. The boys rocked as hard as they did in their twenty and thirties and we loved them for it.
The headliners were to come, James Reyne, who bought a list of loved songs a mile long. His voice still as superb as it had always been. Their songs still as nostalgic. There were many who stayed in the pit or joined it for them but due to the nature of their music, there wasn’t as much jumping around as The Living End had created before them.
Hunters and Collectors, they were the headliners and what many had come to Sandstone Point to see. From what I could see, little had changed with these guys. I had never seen them live before but I had heard they liked to tell stories in between songs. Sure enough, they were happy to spend some of their allotted hour and fifteen minutes chatting about past experiences and environmental issues. Their fans pleaded for their best songs, like ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ and ‘Holy Grail’, they did not oblige until close to the end of the set.
For us, after all was said and done, The Living End were the stand out act of the night and the Sandstone Point Hotel were the winners. Not only would they have made a pretty penny or two, they delivered the perfect place for these bands to come and for their fans to see them again. We can only hope that live music will always have a home at Sandstone.