Powderfinger’s Splendour reunion: you had to be there…
Something genuinely special happened at 5.38pm yesterday afternoon at Splendour In The Grass. After playing a solo version of his old band’s 2009’s song ‘Sail The Widest Stretch’, Bernard Fanning invited Ian Haug, John Collins and Darren Middleton onstage for the first Powderfinger reunion since their split in 2010. Read more about it here.
They played with as much energy as ever. They weren’t nervous, they weren’t phoning it in. This was something they clearly wanted to do.
Their brief, two-song reformation felt like an electric shock, sending the crowd into a state of sheer euphoria. But why did it feel so special?
It was only two songs, played by a band I’d seen a dozen times before, including at the first ever Splendour in the Grass 17 years previous. And while seven years between shows is a long time, it’s not exactly an incredible gulf.
But there was something completely electric about this moment.
Maybe it was the shock. The news of the band’s appearance had spread like wildfire, but it clearly didn’t get to everyone.
The bulk of the crowd lazing around to Fanning’s set were astounded when he called his old bandmates on stage.
Hundreds of revellers started running down the amphitheatre’s enormous hill to get closer to the action. There was genuine disbelief that this was unfolding right in front of us.
Perhaps it was the fact that the band actually looked as excited as the audience. Each member grinned from ear to ear throughout their short time on stage. They played with as much energy as ever.
They weren’t nervous, they weren’t phoning it in. This was something they clearly wanted to do. That’s not to say we’re expecting them to do it again anytime soon, but they didn’t come across as guys who’d had their arms twisted to be here.
Or maybe it’s because the band’s music endures. People of all ages were screaming along to every single word of '(Baby, I've Got You) On My Mind' and 'These Days’; at this point in time the songs feel ageless. Much of the crowd would never have had the chance to see the band play before, but these songs were a part of their upbringing.
These are songs that have almost always been there for much of the young Splendour audience. Big, legitimate hit songs from a band that got as big as you can get in this country before putting a definitive close to their career. Material that felt larger than life in that band’s now absence. Powderfinger's music still matters to the youth.
Whatever it was, Powderfinger’s short set felt significant. It felt like the moment everyone would be talking about long after the tents are packed away and the glitter is washed off our faces.
Could it have been better? Sure. Drummer Jon Coghill could have been there. Besides that, you couldn’t ask for a more fitting way for these old friends, who have played a bigger part in Splendour In The Grass’ existence than most people realise, to regather for a bit of fun on a Saturday night.