Blondie + Cyndi Lauper + The Clouds + Montaigne + Alex Lahey | A Day On The Green, Sirromet Winery | Sunday 2 April 2017: Live review and gallery

A Day on the Green must realise that they’re onto a winning formula, with each subsequent festival getting bigger and bigger.

Sirromet Wineries was bursting at the seams for co-headliners Cyndi Lauper and Blondie, sold out weeks prior to the event. There were a few more grey hairs than you’d normally catch at a festival (with my own included) but the exuberant, friendly vibe was exactly the same as every other ADOTG event I’m ever attended. And the ubiquitous wood-fired pizzas made their standard number of appearances.

On Sunday night’s alternating headline, Blondie were up as final act. It seemed fitting that a group which broke ground for women in music over 40 years ago was  playing at the very top of a cleverly chosen lineup of kick-ass chicks.

Alex Lahey kicked things off. This young, hungry singer / songwriter from Melbourne, who has just broken into national attention with her single You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me, perfectly represented the base of this totem pole of awesome women; someone on the verge of making it. She performed a quick, high energy set which was capped off with her aforementioned banger.

Montaigne was the next rung up. A slightly more established artist, this young triple j fave has had a few hits now with I Am Not An End, I’m A Fantastic Wreck, and In The Dark all making an appearance during her set. Dressed in an over-sized man’s suit and dashing from one end of the stage to the other, this quirky Sydney songstress made the most of the crowd handed to her by the festival gods.

The Clouds, although they reformed in 2011, completely represented the nineties to me. Jodi and Patricia’s angelic harmonies have lost none of their appeal over the years, and the twang of their steel strings took me back to younger, if not happier, times. (Weren’t all nineties teenagers depressed and disenfranchised, or at least aspiring to be? I hang my head.) A solid if sedate performance by these Aussie indie rockers.

Cyndi Lauper has always been a character. Chatting to the crowds in a set peppered with covers, she told a story about her grandmother’s favourite show from when she was little, a game show where woman who were doing things tough got given the chance to be queen for a day. The grand prize was a vacuum. Even at four years old she knew that was “fucked up”. Now she uses her voice where possible to talk about other messed up things happening to women today and how we can change it. The talking was – almost – as compelling as the singing. By the time she’d finished up with three mega-tunes in a row, Girls Just Wanna have Fun, Time After Time and a stripped-back True Colours, her uniquely plaintive tone had filled the hearts of everyone present.

It needn’t be said that Debbie Harry is a feminist. An icon. A pioneer, in many ways, for women in music. Imagine breaking into a music scene where a solo female artist had only just had a number one hit in the British charts for the first time two years earlier (Kate Bush, with Wuthering Heights). Starting off in the punk scene and morphing into the pop-disco-reggae fusion sound that characterises their greatest hits, Blondie, with their sultry lead and gender-bending videos, would cement their place in music’s lexicon as one of the most enduring and loved bands. With 40 million record sales under their belt, it’s a wonder they need to keep touring. Alas, shoddy early record deals saw the band receiving a pittance from their record sales. The good news for fans is this means that we can attend a festival where the funky sextet are still wooing us with their hits.

Dressed in a smock-style black dress with “Stop Fucking The Planet” emblazoned on it, massive sunglasses and an attitude to match, 71-year-old Harry took the stage like she owned the damn thing (which, let’s face it, she does). The crowd leapt to its feet upon hearing the opening salvo of One Way Or Another, before dancing their way through the remainder of the set which included Maria, Call Me, and Rapture. A Rose By Any Name, My Monster and Gravity represented some of the group’s newest recordings. However it was Heart of Glass that had what felt like the world singing along.

Finishing up with Fragments and Dreaming, Blondie left the stage to rapturous (sorry) love from their fans, so excited to be able to jump and sing and applaud along to them again. With more new tracks apparently in the works, hopefully it won’t be the last time we see them on our shores. An extraordinary lineup of women that demonstrated perfectly just how far we’ve come since Blondie first hit the airwaves.

IMAGES (c) Dan Maynard

 

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